As part of the videos that I have been creating for the Asli Shiksha YouTube channel, I did an interview with two of my three children and something that I consider important emerged from that exercise. When people find out that our children are homeschooled, one type of question that comes up repeatedly is about the academic content of school education. People ask, how did the children study? Did we engage tutors for various subjects? Or, are we, the parents, qualified to teach all subjects till the 12th standard? And, do we understand how children learn without ourselves having gone through a B.Ed. program? My response to these questions has been that I have zero interest in the academic syllabus and I consider it excessive, useless and, in a large part, propaganda designed to create and maintain our subjugated mindset. This response usually puts a quick end to the conversation :-).
In the video I asked the boys what they remembered from their homeschooling journey. How did they prepare for their board exams? What was their normal ‘school’ day like? What came up was that both the boys found it very difficult to answer these questions. They found the academic part of homescholing so unremarkable, so easy, that they remembered very little of it. They were living a busy life and ‘schooling’ that is such a big burden for most parents and school-going children passed by without them noticing it too much. (Mahatma Gandhi and many educational reformers after him all talk about the distancing between home and school as a big problem with modern education)
I was talking to Manjunath and Shashank from Udhbhavaha school about this and they told me about an exercise they do in trying to link History (the school subject) with personal experience. They ask children to write their personal histories. What Manjunath and Shashank found was that, in every single case, of the children they have tried this with, school takes up a large part of personal history. (I was in X school but I was having some problems there and things became better when I shifted to Y school… etc.) Of course, children spend a large part of their childhood in school and their memories will naturally be affected by it. But, is nothing else, nothing more memorable, going on in their lives? Why are family, friends, holidays, festivals, melas, adventures etc. not the first things that come to their mind?
We cannot draw out any general rule from this Udhbhavaha anecdote but it points to the huge impact of schooling on the lives of children. It is as if some part of the brain is set aside permanently to deal with our schooling experience. Acknowledging that there is a problem could be a good first step in trying to see what we can do about it. After that, the Asli Shiksha byline ‘Learning is natural’ could give us some ideas on the next steps we will need to take to come out of the unnatural pressures exerted by modern schools.
The Asli Shiksha video I was referring to is: