Homeschooling Stories

Does schooling make you ready for the world?

A Perspective

A lot of people dismiss home-schooling for one reason – that it keeps your children away from socialising and the child is not ready for the big bad world.

What is social    ising? The definition of socialising is “participating in social activities”. What are these social activities? Social activities are events where people of a community come together to solve a problem or to celebrate or any other common purpose. Examples of social activities are family get togethers, parties, picnics, weddings, festivals like Raksha Bandhan, Diwali and Holi, tours, society gatherings or even train travels (or travails 😊) in India. All of these events include people of all ages. Now think of someone you think is particularly good at socialising. Isn’t it someone who engages in conversations with others from across all age groups, genders, professions and income groups with ease and confidence? Their presence generates a similar kind of response from most community members. Does going to school help one achieve this kind of a persona? Having ease and confidence in oneself could either be a result of what you were born with (your physical traits, talents) or it could be a learned behaviour, thanks to encouragement from nurturing adults.

Now also think of a regular day at school. Most schools that are trying to finish their curriculum are not really worrying about your child’s socialisation skills. The school is like a laboratory. And most pedagogical systems are not fashioned on real life but on the convenience of teaching a large number of students in a way that they respond to standardized testing efficiently. There is a teacher who is the authority and the agreement between the school and parents is that the children and their parents will obey the authority. At least in India the kind of schools, where the community takes complete ownership of the school and its workings is rare. The only time children have, to socialise is the recess (all of 20 mins in a 5.5 hour working school). This is not to say that schools and teachers have zero impact on one’s confidence. I have known of children who have blossomed in a particular school, because they found a teacher who believed in them and gave them voice. (ala Taare zameen par… but how often does that happen?)

There is also enough research out there that shows that children who did really well academically in school may not be the ones to do well in real life. What does that say about what the schools are focusing on? And if we are to assume that non-cognitive skills are important qualifiers for success, then these high EQ children are the ones building grit despite the schooling systems and succeeding in real life. It seems to me to be a very round about way of helping students succeed. And what about those who are actually towing the line, being good students, doing as the teacher and parent tells them to, following every instruction, getting constantly praised and made an example of – but is not able to deal with the reality of the world once they are out of the system? What about children who are inherently intense or gifted but don’t know how to get along? They may get lost because the rules of the game have changed and they don’t know how to play.

And is there really a big bad world out there? Why condition our children into believing that? Why should life be a struggle? There are enough examples of people who have all the riches and conveniences of the world, dying of suicide and people with very limited means leading happy, fulfilling lives. So, what is the struggle? What is a successful life?

I don’t have the answers. Do leave your comments to let me know what you think.


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