Some years back when I read about the concept of homeschooling taking roots in the US, it did appeal to me. On reading a recent report in the Times of India on homeschooling in India, I wondered, can this be the answer/solution to check the unnecessary academic burden on kids?
Homeschooling means tutoring the children at home, instead of sending them to regular schools. The parents take the soul responsibility of teaching the child.
Benefits of home schooling-
The idea is appealing when we compare the burden a toddler feels, trying to recognize and write alphabets at the age of three, when he should actually be running and playing around, learning from nature. Not just alphabets, children as young as two are given books and made to recognize numbers, fruits, vegetables, colors etc. The pressure to make them know these things is higher when they have to appear for interviews for admission in the main school. In fact, play schools have cropped up in every nook and corner, simply to prepare the child for admission in main schools. Schools may have changed the term ‘interview’ to ‘interaction’, but actually it’s the same old process in most schools.
Interview or interaction, both are useless for a 3 year old. Children are naturally moody. They may know all the answers but if they don’t want to reply, they will not! Toddlers are most unpredictable. Take my own son- He began speaking full sentences and difficult words like discover, experiment etc. when he was merely one and a half. But once he was out of the house, he would not answer any question put by anyone other than his parents. But once, when he was two, during a Durga Puja celebration I just casually asked him – ‘Want to go on the stage and recite a poem?’ To my utter surprise he said yes. I said OK and suggested him a poem which I knew he knew well. Again he surprised me by confidently reciting another poem on the stage! So judging a child only on the basis of what he says or does not says at the interview is just not right.
- Secondly, what is the point of showing the child an apple or a picture of it and asking them daily, what is this? Won’t they know it naturally when they eat it or buy it with their parents? Common fruits like apple, orange are okay, but children are even asked to recognize uncommon things, which they then have to learn forcefully, in the most unnatural way.
- Third, at home children can learn at their own individual natural pace. They are not compared with other children. There is no competition for grades/marks.
- Fourth, children can study whenever they want. They can fix there own time and can spend as much time on each subject as they like. They can spend more time on the subject they like, thus mastering it with interest. This way the understanding of the subject will be greater. If they like plants, they can study more of botany and less of Math.
- Fifth, children get sufficient time to play, explore, and indulge in all the extra curricular activities they really enjoy.
- Sixth, home schooled children will be more innovative and enterprising, thus reducing the burden on the job market.
- Lastly, how a child fares in academics or any activity depends mostly on the parents. School provides an outline, a guide for the parents. Then why not teach the child at home?
Homeschooling can thus provide a happy childhood, with children growing up into happy satisfied individuals. BUT….. this concept of homeschooling raises many doubts too. Some are-
- How will the child socialize?- School is a great place for the children to mix with other children They learn to share, co-operate, make friends, recognize the good from the bad when they step out of the secure environs of the home.
- Not possible for everyone- The parents have to be highly intelligent themselves, to be able to teach the child everything, for their all round growth.
- Lots of time required- The parents have to spend a lot of time with the children. It reqiures tremendous involvement with the child.
- Getting jobs- The Indian job market imparts a lot of importance to marks, degrees and the place of education. Breaking this system will require lots of guts.
- Higher education- Education till the level of class eight is fine at home. But beyond this formal education will be better. It is not possible to provide facilities like Laboratories at home. Neither is it possible to teach specialized subjects which the parents do not know.
Homeschooling is a debatable issue. With the movie ‘3 idiots’ having aptly and strongly brought the issue of academic pressure to the limelight, we certainly need to discuss the alternatives to the current education system.