Tuesday, February 12, 2008

School Admissions Redux - Homeschooling an answer?

There has been a spate of articles in the international media in recent days about the sorry state of admissions to private schools in India and the attendant stress for the Indian parent due to an extremely warped demand-supply equation. Sample these 2 from the New York Times and the International Herald Tribune.

About a year ago, really early in the life of educatorslog.in, Beena Babu wrote an elog that generated a lot of discussion among the members of this forum. It was titled Grey areas of school admission policy- A search for new assessment ideas and it took an educated look at the what/why/how schools should assess young children during the admissions process - if they should be "evaluated" at all!

A massive movement in the US and the West, homeschooling in India is still in a very nascent stage with numbers probably only in a few hundreds or thousands (not counting children with disabilities who are home schooled due to lack of educational institutions that cater to their needs). If issues with school admissions continue to grow at the current rate, I personally feel that a lot of educated parents may look to home schooling their children as a viable, even sensible alternative. Given the increasing violence in schools and the pressures of regular schooling today (I could list out several - just commuting to/from school in the metros has become a source of stress, fatigue and ill-health for many urban kids), homeschooling and alternative education may make sense for a variety of reasons for many urban families.



Suchi said...

Hi Shuchi,
Was your junior in BITS. Don't know if you remember but we shared the same first name (I'm Suchi Smitha, tho'). Coincidentally, I'm also associated with training - technical training for IT Professionals.
I have this to ask about homeschooling-
What about the interaction with other kids - one of life's most valuable lessons?
What about team sports?
Or the opportunity to take part in activities like the school newsletter, cultural competitions, the school band or elocution contests? We may not value these as we should - but it might be a good idea to take a good look at how these activities foster leadership, negotiation, problem-solving, client-handling and time management.My two cents:-)


Shuchi Grover said...

Hi Suchi Smitha! Yes, I do remember you, and sorry for not responding earlier.

Yes, it is an issue worth debating, and I am glad you have responded to it. Clearly both approaches have their pros and cons, and the answer also depends on the child and family in question, what kind of school options are available for the child, etc etc.

Interactions with other kids is an obvious issue, the first question raised by most people re. homeschooling. That children who are homeschooled don't interact with other kids, is a common misconception. Most parents who homeschool their children obviously recognize this need, and work to include this important aspect of socialization, either with other homeschooled kids, or through after-school sports or whatever. Obviously, there is a better eco-system for this in the US and other countries, where homeschooling is a much more mature idea and practice.

All the other opportunities you mentioned, and the skills they foster, can be worked on through several avenues outside of school. And I should mention that such opportunities are not always present in every school, and not every child in the school gets to participate - even if they want to. Whereas, in an education tailored to and for your child, an intelligent parent could do a whole lot more!

I personally feel that a blended approach would probably help leverage the best of both, if such an option is available (as it is in the US, where some home-schooled kids split their time between home and school).

Take a look at this interesting comic I came across - Schools are for Fish. :-)

Suchi said...

Hi Shuchi,
The comic was a good one. As was the writeup below. I'm speaking from a personal standpoint of course, but my daughter and I both are only children (no siblings!). So school was a great experience for both of us - it meant company, it meant friends and like minds etc. School can teach you valuable stuff which you would have to learn anyway once you come out into the world and see the big picture. But I guess, it boils down to individual experiences and the school.
I agree that a blended approach would be great. I have often felt that I could do a better job with some subjects than my daughter's teachers.
I can also see that homeschooling would be a boon for children who are shy, are easily bullied or intimidated or simply like their own company. Love the work you're doing - I'll keep visiting this blog often.


Shuchi Grover said...

Thanks, Suchi, for your comments.

Incidentally there was a program aired on Times Now recently that looked at homeschooling in the context of alternative education and schooling, in India. It was pretty interesting to hear first hand views of kids who had been home schooled.