My experiences as a student have largely defined the way I view my children’s education. Having done well academically all my life it was only when I attended my MBA classes at NMIMS that I started questioning what education was all about.
When the time came for my son to join a pre-school, the journey was marked with many emotions, lots of talks and discussions with a lot of like-minded people. Somewhere I oscillated between Waldorf, Montessori and homeschooling.
Finally I decided on a new Montessori started by two wonderful teachers. What moved me towards the school was an environment where he felt safe, where he was happy and most importantly where there was no “pressure to perform”.
While I think homeschooling is wonderful, it didn’t really suit us. I had been exposed to homeschooling about 11 years ago when I was in the US and simply fell in love with the concept. But once you become a mother you start to realize what your own strengths are. For kruthath (my son), because of his allergies, I had to homeschool him for five months and I did not enjoy it. So I guess to each his own. But I think if I were to go back and see what I had loved about the homeschooling family, it was the fact that the children did diverse things; explorations were 360 degrees and much beyond their age. This is something that I also do with krutarth on a particular topic even though he goes to school.
I don’t know enough about homeschooling but based on the little I do know, I don’t think homeschooling is an option for Imran. Both Kunal and I need to work full time and my understanding of homeschooling is that it requires a fair amount of time from the parents. In another kind of situation and perhaps, if we were not living in a big city, I would have considered this. But the pressures of living in a big city do not leave us with a lot of time in our everyday life, and so I would like the time that we do get to spend with Imran to be as free of structure as possible – to read, play, watch and just be together without any agendas. And I think homeschooling – as opposed to unschooling – would require some kind of structure, some engagement with what he’s learning. I do understand that learning takes place in everyday life, in unstructured ways but I would be worried about whether I was doing enough or not with him, especially since eventually he would need to take an exam – at some stage. Also, homeschooling would mean that we spend time figuring out how he can meet other kids and different kinds of kids, not just kids’ of friends and others like us. School can be a space for that kind of interaction with diversity. It is another matter that many schools today are enacting the class system in new ways but with homeschooling, that would be one more thing that I would worry about. So, while I might share the ideals of homeschooling in terms of pedagogy, as a structural choice I see it is an elite choice.