Monday, April 23, 2012

EDUCATION - Heading towards Learning or Information Overload ?

EDUCATION seems to be losing its sheen. The word no longer connotes Learning but only Information. Though there has been a paradigm shift in Education in terms of trends, technologies, teaching methods, teaching models, learning approcahes but the outcome still remains the same - bombardment of information to the learners. Simplification of a single topic or theme seems to be getting lost in complexity of information and data. We have not moved away from our reliance on text books, etc. We may talk big about technology in education but we seem to be far away from applying it in our teaching-learning. There is a dire need to look at the situation from new perspective(s), some of which are - 1. evloved mindset of educators in understanding the dynamics of education in the current times, 2. educators' comfort level with the latest in education, 3. delievering tools to comprehend, analyse, intrepret, etc. to learners instead of just information. The whole idea of bombarding child with as much infomation and data about a subject/ topic may not be useful as learners need time to digest and understand. The outome is a child losing interest in the subject and then in studies altogether. A change needed in determining what would constitute our education and a though need to be put on 1. what gets taught, 2. how much gets taught, 3. how it gets taught, 4. why it needs to be taught. 

Lets teach and raise our children in a way that they become self-capable learner of life and not only academics !! 

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Homeschooling as an Alternative Education option in India - What is the Future ?

Homeschooling as an "alternative education" option is not familiar to a large percentage of educators/ parents in India and the reasons for the same are plenty. The context in which the Indian Education System exists/ prevails doesn't encouarge "homeschooling". Though unconsciously parents do "homeschool" their children during the early years but when it comes to adopting it as an "alternative education" method, parents/ educators have their reservations. I have come across various individual and community driven groups/ forums on Homeschooling but still a lot needs to be done to make it more popular. Some of the obvious reasons for "Homeschooling" not being so popular in India are as follows:

  • The Education system is very "degree/ certification" driven with lot of focus on earning them than actually "learning". A person's worth is gauged by the number of degrees he/ she possess and not by the knowledge/ learning acquired.
  • The non-flexibility in the education system is a big hindrance even if parents decide to homeschool their kids. The parents can never be sure whether their child/ children would find a seat in a school if they opt to put the child/ children back in the traditional school system at a later stage. The parents still struggle a lot for gaining a seat in the regular school.
  • Content Driven Education - We still adhere to
  • Status Quotient of Parents - Our system is still run by way of "going for the brand" where the intelligence of a child or status of parents is gauged by the school the child/ children studies in. So, it is the effort of every parent to put the child/ children in the most popular brand (by hook or crook)
  • The options for "alternative schooling" in India are very limited and for "homeschooling" there's hardly anything that exists except for NIOS (Open School). But generally NIOS is considered/ perceived as an option for dropouts and academically low performing students.
  • Obession with the entity "School" - The Indian society hasn't really opened up to the "homeschooling" concept and schooling is considered synonymous with literacy and learning. If a child has not been to a regular school he/ she has not learnt anything. The obsession with school is such that as parents we start sending our kids to "pre-primary" schools the moment they turn 2.
  • The guidance and support system for homeschoolers does not exist and it is/ would be a real struggle for parents to find resources to school their children. Not many parents are aware of the advantages and efforts needed for homeschooling. The parents do need to know the basics of child psychology and about how learning occurs.
  • Many a times, the cost of homeschooling turns out to be more that the traditional schooling.
  • With the trend of "both parents working" having caught up in India, the "time" poses the biggest challenge for parents if they plan to "homeschool". Sending the child/ children to a regular school is much more convenient for the parents.
  • Another harsh reality is that there is a lot of  "business" that thrives on a parent not adopting "Homeschooling", so there is no real encouragement for parents for the same. 
The list can go on but this post aims to provide some food for thought on the future of Homeschooling in India.