I’ve talked about the my problems with traditional schooling and some alternate methods in previous posts. In this final part, I’ll talk about my implementation plans. My daughter is not yet four and I’m factoring that into my plans here. Be warned though that these are my plans and might not be suitable for everyone. Also, this is more of a statement rather than an opening point for discussions and this will reflect in my replies to comments in any.
No education system is “unbiassed”. As far as I can tell, everyone has an agenda and this makes sense. Every teacher has a world view, opinions, facts and other things which they try to pass on to a child.
I bemoan the lack of emphasis these days on the humanities, on language and on the arts. Skills like writing, talking etc. are being pushed back in schools with increasing emphasis on technology and the need to get into a “good college”. So, this is something I want to pay some attention to. I want to emphasise things like poetry, history, literature and languages. I foresee some trouble but there are some groups in Bangalore that might be able to help. I’ll talk about these later.
Dorothy Sayers’ essay “The lost tools of learning” is a must read for anyone interested in education these days. It’s my starting point. In it, she talks about the trivium which consists of the three “subjects” of grammar, logic and rhetoric. Primary education consists of teaching kids these skills and that’s my plan as well. This is medieval and there is a modern version of the system in the book The Well trained mind which is my handbook for this trip. It’s very detailed and goes into the ages at which different subjects are to be taught and how. It recommends books and other resources which can be used etc. I’ve not year read the whole thing but I’ve browsed through a copy and am quite satisfied with the overall content.
The second thing which I want to emphasise is religion. My own world view is religious and conservative (although I don’t like pigeonholing ideas in this fashion) and I don’t want to compromise religious education. This is not a fashionable thing to say in “modern” liberal circles but it’s my plan anyway. I’m not going to “justify” this here. That’s not a path I want to go down. Operational religious virtues are best taught by example so the household is the first thing here. Children learn by imitation so that covers most of this. Your kids are going to be as religious as you are. More formal religious theology, requires a specialist to teach so I plan to get a home tutor who will teach these subjects a few times a week when my daughter gets older. This is the way I was taught. There are also a few http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Madrasahs near my house so maybe that’s an option too. I’m undecided about the details but there’s still time for this.
It’s too early to have a clear view of the entire path but these are my overall aims.
I don’t really plan to do any “formal” schooling till about 5 years of age. I’m not a big fan of the preschool, nursery, kindergarten and then first grade trend in cities these days. I do spend time playing around with my daughter though. She can count a little and recite the alphabet. She can handle a pair of scissors to cut out stuff and can generally keep herself busy with a few pieces of paper, a stick of glue, some colours and such things.
I also spend quite a bit of time reading stories to her and discussing them. She picks up vocabulary quite quickly and any stories which have a sort of rhyme (e.g. some of the Dr. Seuss books), she memorises automatically.
One thing I’m deadly against is the television (and by extension the computer). It has a way of eclipsing everything else that the world can throw at you. This is perhaps a tad controversial but I’m generally satisfied with not having a TV in the house and not putting my daughter in front of youtube to watch standard Disney cartoons. We tried this earlier (when she was around 2.5) and that’s all she wanted. The books, the toys, the outside, the pretend games all stopped. Not worth and it The Well Trained Mind is in agreement with me about this.
At 4.5 or so, I plan to start the work with the book mentioned above and to go on with that. It will probably not be possible to do it entirely according to their prescriptions but it is going to be my guidebook.
At about 6, I plan to start formal religious education too.
I expect the subjects to get more and more complex as my children grow older and so after a period of time, I’ll probably take the help of private tutors for specialised subjects and to prepare them for examinations (which are sadly compulsory these days if you want to do anything).
It’s too early to have a crystal clear plan right now but I’ll probably blog about this as time goes by.
This is often the first question that people ask when it comes to home schooling. How will she learn to socialise? How will she get friends? The question is not really a question. These are two separate issues.
The first has been answered repeatedly before.
The basic point is that have a child sit without any real guidance in a class of 35 to 40 children of like age is not going to help them socialise at all. They going to imitate their peers and one rotten kid is enough to spoil the rest. The “free for all” jungle atmosphere of the school teaches a certain kind of socialisation that might not always be the best kind.
Real socialisation comes from letting kids interact with a diverse group of people. As a simple example, my own daughter had a “conversation” with a random lady she met in a local lending library about which books were bad and which were good. It’s not that hard and she definitely didn’t need school to teach her this.
It’s important to get them into such groups on a regular basis. To let them speak to different kids and older people. It’s also good to curate their company a little. While it’s important to experience “the real world”, no one wants their kids to learn behaviour from some ill mannered ruffian. You expose them to people with good personalities, their natural ability to imitate will do the rest. This of course, puts a lot of responsibility on the parent but no one said that raising kids was easy.
The second question about friends is more serious. The parents need to find places where the children can play with peers. Local parks, meetups with other homeschoolers, gated communities, neighbours, evening classes for things like art, martial arts, music etc. There are lots of avenues. I myself plan to spend one or two weeks every two months in my native place where my children can actuall spend time with their grandparents and their cousins.
Another point which can rub people the wrong way is that I think it’s good idea to have more than one child. It’s unfashionable these days but I’ve met homeschooling families with a large number of kids and they were delightful to talk to. The younger ones were mature in a certain nice way and not spoilt brats. The older ones too. This is decision that requires some consideration by parents but I think it’s something worth thinking about.
Bangalore seems to be, atleast in my research, the ideal place in India to homeschool kids. The Alternative Education in India website contains a lot of information on groups and answers a lot of FAQs. It also covers the question of certifications which I’m not going to repeat here. There is an community of home schoolers on http://indiahomeschoolers.ning.com/ which is a social networking site. Announcements are usually made over there regarding events and meetups. A mailing list called alt-ed-india is also quite active with a large number of homeschoolers on it. Great place to ask questions.
Most home schooling families I’ve lean towards the liberal and secular. However, there are conservative and more religious groups out there too. The muslimhsers group has been very helpful to me. The Kinza Academy too is a useful resource although a tad expensive if you’re in India.
There are also tons of other resources on the web. Like most things on the net, this is a “drinking from a firehose” problem. The above are the sites and lists which I found useful personally. The book I’ve mentioned is an excellent buy too if you’re planning this.
Why not to homeschool?
Finally, if you are planning to do this, here are some reasons not to just to get a proper perspective.
- Competition. The dog eat dog kind of competitiveness you need to get far in some areas comes I think better from the conventional system.
- Time. Doing this requires a massive time investment. One parent pretty much needs to do it full time and the other part time. If you don’t have that kind of time and energy available, it might not be wise.
- Risk. Doing anything outside the mainstream is risky. Quitting your job and starting your own company is an example that many of the people reading this blog will be more familiar with. This is one such activity and has risks.
That’s my plan. My daughter is a little under four years old now and I’m spending time in the evenings making plans for when she’s older. I also take the time to visit people who I meet on the mailing lists and go to the meetups. Let’s see where this goes.blog comments powered by Disqus