‘home schooling’ – some thoughts

This is part #6 of the ‘frequently avoided questions on education’ series; pointers to the previous posts are given at the bottom of this post.


… But, not all education systems are bad – it is pertinent here to note that, very many of the folks who have made a positive difference to our lives – literateurs, artists, entrepreneurs, scientists, leaders, philosophers and teachers seem to have been ‘educated’ in the factory kind of way – and they have contributed immensely for the ‘furtherence’ of our civilization.  On the contrary, there are these great many ‘illieterate’ and ‘uneducated’ farmers of the land (not to speak of the folks who ‘service’ us in various ways) are the ones to whom we owe our very existence!

We thrive in the intervening great gray area, of course!

And when I think of it, certainly ‘home schooling’ appears to be an option too.  We have been thinking about this for quite a while now – and we have resolved to continue to think about it!

Now, we personally know a few good folks who are actually (and quietly) doing this and know of some others who pretend to do this. In my opinion, for this ‘home schooling’ business to be good and useful, the following are the necessary (and mostly sufficient) conditions:

  1. Both parents have to be ‘centered’ and calm; the word imperturbablity floats up!
  2. The parents should have this attitude: Education is NOT a mere preparation for life. It is life.
  3. They should have had at least some prior experience of having dealt with children of various ages – from toddlers to adolescents – and a demonstrated capability to learn with and from them.
  4. Both parents have to stay at home and spend the time with children and doing ‘chopping wood, carrying water’ – if some ‘bread winning’ is a must, then it should be done from home.
  5. The parents should be driven by that maxim: Be the change, you wish to see. (for example, one cannot be in a high paying, highflying profession or a inveterate daytrader at the Stock Exchange, and say that it is okay if his children get home schooled and become potters. This cognitive dissonance will be eminently registered by the children – who have this innate ability to separate real men and women from phoneys – as a friend of my spouse says: children are the best bullshit meters!
  6. The parents should not merely be running away from schooling systems and if so, keeping children at home becomes a merely default option – as they are NOT running towards an objective; instead, they should have a significant number of sound & positive reasons for home schooling.
  7. The parents should be warm and affectionate folks, around whom ti should be possible for an active network of various kinds of people to operate – professing various faiths, professions and ideologies.
  8. They should have a significant library collection (or have access to) of books, music, films and people – and should be able to tap into similar resources of other like minded or kindred souls. While using any such media, they would exercise discretion and finer tastes.
  9. They should have healthy food practices, medical ideas and should be agile.
  10. They should not be mere talkers – but doers. And, most importantly, they should be very good and patient listeners. (Read at your peril: Paperback activists considered harmful)
  11. They should be DIY (do it yourself or do it myself) folks at various levels and should have curiosity and raging chutzpah.
  12. Metacognition levels need to he very high in the parents. ( I strongly recommend that all folks – whether or not they are homeschoolers or wannabe ones – read this article:  Unskilled and Unaware of It: How Difficulties in Recognizing One’s Own Incompetence Lead to Inflated Self-Assessments – Justin Kruger and David Dunning, Department of Psychology, Cornell University – Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 1999, Vol. 77, No. 6. ] 121-1134 – www.apa.org/journals/features/psp7761121.pdf ; let me say that I have benefitted enormously from this study, at a personal level and as a ‘leader’ of people in my previous avatars)
  13. The Signal-to-Noise ratio has to be significantly high in their lives.
  14. They should have a fundamental respect for the child or for that matter, any child.

There could be a few more such attributes, but I think, the professional knowledge and an ability to readily solve partial differential equations and flaunt their technology provess are definitely not among them.

And, luckily for me, I am not unduly burdened with any of the above virtues and illustrious parameters (0r kalyaana gunas, if you will), and so my children can heave sighs of mighty relief that they are not going to get home schooled. I realize that ‘home schooling’ is no monkey business, it requires a lot of commitment, grit, resourcefulness and level headedness.

I increasingly believe that children are veritable sponges and soak in the environment that they grow up – whether it is a school or a home or a road – and it is up to us parents to provide them with meaningful choices that they can choose to  pursue resourcefully with their self-esteem intact.

(continued in the next installment #7)

Earlier installments:

part 1: https://nammashaale.wordpress.com/2009/03/26/education-some-questions-and-answers/

part 2: https://nammashaale.wordpress.com/2009/04/04/education-questions-and-answers-part-2/

part 3: https://nammashaale.wordpress.com/2009/04/08/education-questions-and-answers-part-3/

part 4: Education: A taxonomy towards understanding this beast better https://nammashaale.wordpress.com/2009/04/17/education-education-questions-and-answers-part-4/

part 5: Time ‘spent’ on education https://nammashaale.wordpress.com/2009/04/28/education-questions-and-answers-part-5/

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  • a  On May 4, 2009 at 1:01 am

    James 3 The Tongue Is a Fire

    1 Let not many of you become teachers, my brethren, knowing that as such we will incur a stricter judgment. 2 For we all stumble in many ways. If anyone does not stumble in what he says, he is a perfect man, able to bridle the whole body as well. 3 Now if we put the bits into the horses’ mouths so that they will obey us, we direct their entire body as well. 4 Look at the ships also, though they are so great and are driven by strong winds, are still directed by a very small rudder wherever the inclination of the pilot desires. 5 So also the tongue is a small part of the body, and yet it boasts of great things.
    See how great a forest is set aflame by such a small fire! 6 And the tongue is a fire, the very world of iniquity; the tongue is set among our members as that which defiles the entire body, and sets on fire the course of our life, and is set on fire by hell. 7 For every species of beasts and birds, of reptiles and creatures of the sea, is tamed and has been tamed by the human race. 8 But no one can tame the tongue; it is a restless evil and full of deadly poison. 9 With it we bless our Lord and Father, and with it we curse men, who have been made in the likeness of God; 10 from the same mouth come both blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not to be this way. 11 Does a fountain send out from the same opening both fresh and bitter water? 12 Can a fig tree, my brethren, produce olives, or a vine produce figs? Nor can salt water produce fresh.

    1 Corinthiana 1:21 For after that in the wisdom of God the world by wisdom knew not God, it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe.

    1 Corinthians 1:27 but God has chosen the foolish things of the world to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to shame the things which are strong,

  • Jayashree Janardhan  On May 7, 2009 at 8:12 am

    Dear Ramjee,
    As always thanks for your checklists. I have some different experiences with the home schooling parents I know (majority I’ve met in the US).
    First of all – one needs to be fully aware of why one is homeschooling. As you are probably aware – homeschooling overall has been a movement that has gained ground due to religious or spiritual reasons – more than simple life style choices. Most were opposed the fact that western notions of science were not holistic enough and clashed with home values. In fact several million children are currently being homeschooled in the US. And studies are beginning to show that home schooled children are surprisingly better adapted socially than their peers and have fewer peer pressur related self esteem issues. Several universities in the US have special quotas for home schooled children.

    Usually if one is not clear on why one is homeschooling – it is hard since every system has its set of challenges including home schooling.
    I personally feel that one has to be careful that homeschooling is not done with the intention of keeping the child away from “bad” influences. Children sense our insecurities and certainly test limits with them.

    Contrary to what you say – in most cases one parent is dedicated to the homeschool. I’ve rarely seen both home school together. I myself have tried it for a good 9 months while in the US…not here. And out there it was a wonderful experience. We did utilize a lot of community resources like public facilities offering various enrichment classes. I’ve very little experience on how it will be here in India.
    With home schooling a parent should certainly utilize all available community resources. It need not be an isolating process at all.
    Possibly among the biggest factors in homeschooling is the discipline a parent needs to have to work on themselves and stay nourished. Otherwise it can be overload. And our ch9ildren will download our stresses.
    And have sufficient outlets for the children to grow without parental interference so they can learn to face challenges and take right decisions for themselves.

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