There is a growing tribe of kids and parents in the city for whom ‘home is where the school is’. Some parents are consciously moving away from the conventional school system and are creating their own roadmap for learning. For them, home is the place where the children find flexibility and freedom to explore without the pressure of time, age and marks.
“Education should create noble minds, wider and cultivated sense of perceptions, understanding and a love for learning,’’ says Masja and Raja, who are home-educating their children, Veda (14) and Aaryaman (16). Three visionaries are a constant inspiration to this city-based couple’s blueprint for home education — Scottish educator and author of Summerhill School, Alexander Sutherland Neill and his philosophies of freedom from adult coercion; naturalist and geologist Charles Darwin; and speaker and writer Jiddu Krishnamurti.
Masja and Raja’s home in Sector 9 is a place of free flow of ideas, debates, questions and is filled with books, documentary films, magazines and programmes on various subjects. Learning happens 24×7. “We haven’t recreated a school at home by prescribing a syllabus or affiliating to a board or online school. We have created an environment of learning, by giving them the freedom to learn at their own pace. And both of us constantly learn ourselves to keep pace with their needs,’’ says Masja.
Both Raja and Masja feel that schools are an artificial system. “We want an evolutionary process of learning. So we set no limits, you ask a question, and you will get the answer. Military history, math, environment, literature, sciences, languages, we both have the privilege time and energy to take them through it all,’’ says Masja, who adds that her children plan to pursue higher education abroad, in their chosen fields. As for interacting with children of their age, the kids are encouraged to attend workshops, take up sports, join clubs for outdoor activities and build close friendships.
In sharp contrast is the system that Remona Ghuman, a counsellor by profession, has chosen for her children Sehej (14), Sartaj (12) and Nehar (16). The children attend a ‘Virtual School’ at home and follow an Australian curriculum, attending classes, doing projects, presentations, meeting objectives, submitting assignments et al from their well-equipped study in their home in Sector 21. Remona and her husband moved to Chandigarh from Australia, and chose to home-school their children because they found the school system here ‘different’.
“We wanted them to have cultural connects with the country, and we made a choice to put in time and effort at home, instead of a school,’’ says Remona. The system makes the learning more interactive, as they connect with students from across the world and twice a year at school back in Australia.
“They build bonds and also work together. I have seen them achieve independent work skills, maturity, and discipline,’’ she says. Parents, she adds, have to be more involved with the work in a home-schooling system, for social skills are learnt primarily first at home.
Elsewhere, in Sector 36, Harkamal Sharma is lending an ear to her 16-year-old son Arnav’s online radio talk show, and the music he has selected for it. “As he was home-schooled, it gave him a lot of time to explore his passion in programming. He followed IGCSE syllabus and gave his Class X examination through an open examination,’’ explains Harkamal. Her 10-year-old daughter, Hariti, goes to CoVeda in Sector 18, a parent’s initiative to bring up children based on tenets of integral education.
“Classrooms where a teacher deals with 20-50 students at a time, are stressful spaces. I see these schools as business houses,” explains Harkamal, who says the system works more where parents have time and energy to dedicate towards their children.
Where Atul Khanna, Director, Strawberry Fields High School, Sector 26, feels that home-school system is a personal choice, and social bonding happens best in a peer group, Sarita says it’s a conscious decision and stress-free for all. “Children learn a lot from each other, and it’s a holistic development that a school can offer, for ultimately most children do attend school programmes,” says Khanna.