Dear Mom, What If Not Going To School Can Make Your Kid Smarter?

Here are few questions to those who have been to schools in India:

  • How often did you feel lost in class?
  • Did you ever feel like a failure?
  • How many subjects did you not have enough time for?

We all know an aunt or uncle in our family whose primary job description includes “beta, what’s your score? Are you first in class? Is studying 31 hours a day enough to get you a government job?”

Let’s wave a familiar welcome to the deep anxiety around the injustices of the education systems we have in our country.

Students in a university lecture

Where did it start?

In British times, western industrialized education entered India. This was to make it easy for the British to control the people and use their trained manual power to serve their country’s wealth.

Breaking the chains

Now, many decades after independence the education system remains. The system’s high stress, competition, and lack of employment afterward are making people question its purpose. In response, many new means of alternative education are opening up. It started with a handful of families and is now growing into many thousands. These families are exploring and experimenting with different methods. These include:

  • Unschooling
  • Homeschooling
  • Montessori education
  • Waldorf education and more.

All these have a common underlying principle that drives them – respect the needs of the child and creating environments that allow them to explore their full range of human expression.

Students engaged in experiential learning at Shikshantar – an alternative school

Promising results

Overall, feedback from parents and children shows potential. Children in alternative education models can develop resilience and retain their love for learning. Isn’t that something to rejoice in?

Where is it heading

Groups like Shikshantar, Krishnamurty schools, Indian Multiversity Alliance, schools in Auroville, and other schools and communities in the fringes of cities and rural areas, are working in their unique ways.

Challenges

These initiatives respond to initial challenges faced. Knowledge of creating learning environments, community support, awareness amongst peers, job opportunities, etc., are more accessible.  First only educated upper-middle-class families had access to these options. Now, it has become more accessible.

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