Tuesday, September 9, 2008

To Homeschool or not to homeschool?

I have had issues with the education system in this country and the sheer pace at which it forces children through a fixed curriculum. You put in your child into playschool in this country when he or she is still in diapers, still unable to speak, still to develop their gross motor skills to perfection, forget the fine motor skills. And then, the syllabus. And the speed at which it is rushed through before the child is even able to grasp or comprehend what is being taught to him or her.
But yes, the children cope. Or rather, we force them to cope. My son, as you might know from my blog, is struggling. He has issues with attention, with hyperactivity, and I am fully aware of his issues and working with him.
The entire rush at which we start morphing our children into pressurised little studious robots has always had me wondering if there was an option. If there was a method by which I could take his unique interests and integrate them into his studies, considering he was lagging behind awfully in class, despite the fact that he does, blasphemy, go for tuitions after school, and I sit with him and do his school and tuition homework with him every single day.
My search for options lead me to google baba and to Homeschooling. The premise is interesting. I could draw up age appropriate syllabus according to the class my son is in and work on it with him at home. And I discovered on Wikipedia that it is legal in India.
But do I have the courage to withdraw him from organised school and go through the homeschooling experiment, especially in this competitive world where a piece of paper from an educational institution can make all the difference between a career and stagnation? I dont. Honestly, I dont. So I will opt for the happy compromise of having him go to regular school. And working with him at home with a syllabus more suited to his level of comprehension and understanding and willingness to grasp. Without pressurising him as much as I can manage it.
Research conducted by Raymond S Moore in the 1970s revealed that putting children into the education system too early was detrimental to their self esteem. The resultant book, Better Late than Early has a self explanatory title.
What are the advantages of homeschooling? The child gets one on one attention from the parent or the primary care give who is involved as much emotionally as is mentally in the process of educating the child. The syllabus can be tailored to the individual interest of the child and the parent will move up the syllabus is consonance with the speed with which the child assimilates what is being taught.
A group of parents can get together to form a core homeschooling team with each parent taking on a single subject and preparing lessons accordingly, if parents are able to find likeminded parents who share the desire to homeschool their children.
As to the syllabus, it can be developed through interenet downloaded resources, through books and educational DVDs, and text books meant for the level of class the child would be in should the child be in regular school. The flexibility of homeschooling is that, you can take lessons at your convenience. You can speed up or slow down according to the child's mastery of the subject, and you can devote one on one attention to the child.
There are plenty of parents out here who are homeschooling their children as an option to the standardised Brick in the Wall education system we follow. Their children are as intelligent, informed and capable or even better than those who go to regular school.
But homeschooling is not the rosy picture it seems. For one, the parent must have the ability to teach. And that is a natural ability that makes imparting knowledge interesting and fun for the child. The Good Lord knows I have to work really hard on that part. For another, the parent has to be disciplined enough to ensure that they have their study sessions every day regardless of distractions. For another, there is always the fear that the child is not upto snuff when compared with other children their age. The assumption is that school learning is the norm and is therefore better for the child.
The debate includes whether the child will be deprived of peer socialisation, and fail to develop adequate social skills in such a homeschooling setting. And also, when is the child ready and able to join institutionalised education and will the child then feel a misfit. All these questions still are under debate. But the bottom line is that homeschooling is an idea whose time has come, especially with all the parents out here, dismayed with the sheer insensitivity and overload the education system is putting on our precious little children.
I am going to try it out, in my own form, while staying put in the school. Any resources that would help, would be welcome. And any opinions too!
Would you homeschool your child, if you could?
Notable homeschooled individuals?
Numerous historical and current public figures were home-educated[2][56][57]. Some examples include:
Abraham Lincoln (1809-1865) the 16th President of the United States, received very little schooling, but was an avid reader and taught himself how to read, write, and do arithmetic.[56][58]
Andrew Wyeth (1917), an American realist painter, was taken out of school at young age because of illness, he then received education on art and other subjects from his parents.[59][56]
Bode Miller (1977), an American alpine skier, was homeschooled by his parents until he was ten. [60]
Che Guevara (1928), left-wing guerrilla leader in Cuba, Africa, and Bolivia, and prison commandant and national bank president in Cuba, born in Argentina, was educated at home, mainly by his mother, until the age of 13.[61]
Ernst Mach, Austria, Physicist. Homeschooled until highschool by his parents.[62]
Erwin Schrödinger, Austria, Nobel Prize-winning physicist. Homeschooled until age 10[63]
Elizabeth II (1926), the queen of the United Kingdom, received early education at home, later she attended lessons in constitutional history at Eton College.[64]
George Washington, United States, First United States President[56]
Rosa Parks, United States, civil rights activist, homeschooled until age 11[65]
Sho Yano, United States, child prodigy
Susan La Flesche Picotte, United States, first American Indian woman physician
Thomas Edison (1847-1931) an American inventor and businessman, was taught reading, writing and arithmetic by his mother. Before that he left school after only three months, as he had trouble following the lessons. Most of his other education he received from reading books on his own.[66]
Woodrow Wilson (1856-1924) the 28th President of the United States, was home educated by his father because of the Civil War. When he was nineteen he entered the Princeton University.[56]

Resources: http://www.alternativeeducationindia.net/