I don’t want to talk about children who go to regular schools. For most who do not know the history of school, let me tell you it was a place designed to take care of the children of the state so that adults where free to be absorbed into the growing industrial work force. It was also a place that was designed to fashion a huge working force needed to fuel the growing economies of the world.
Well just over hundred years and people of the world forgot the real purpose and started to feel, living without schools was unthinkable. That is unfortunately how easy it is to alter the minds of world citizens, by mass propaganda.
But anyway, I do not want to talk about virtues or evils of mainstream schools. I want to talk about the question. Do parents and families love being around their children and why it is important to create more free-flowing learning spaces?
The Alternative Learning Spaces that are trying to bring about some real changes in the way learning happens in children, will become sustainable only when parents who want alternative education for their children become co-creators of such learning centers. I find that many alternative schools are being yet again used by parents to offload the primary task of being around their children on alternative teachers.
Especially in my country, India, with Right to Education Act coming down heavily on such centers and lack of sustained funds to pay unconventional teachers and stop children from leaving for more mainstream schools, parents need to drop their other pursuits, at least by turns, to become active partners in these kind of learning spaces. Otherwise I see no difference between parents who send their kids to conventional schools and alternative schools. The second option being just another attractive looking fad, hard to sustain for both parents and the school. Till parents and extended family enjoy being around their children, no real transformation in education is possible.
So the question for reflection for parents or to be parents is “DO I LOVE BEING AROUND CHILDREN?”
Homeschooling and unschooling are options but clearly not a valid one for many who find it hard to be always with their children till the children are old enough to find other avenues outside the parents’ circle. I am an unschooling mother to two children, and yet would not recommend this to all parents. Simply because it is not everybody’s cup of tea. Am I being arrogant here? Well yes I am. It takes all of oneself and much more to be fully dedicated to your kids for a long a time.
But the other holistic options that can help our children to find their inner calling and creativity are co-op spaces managed and run by parents themselves. Dropping the kids off to yet another center managed and run by some passionate alternative educationist is not sustainable in the long run unless parents join as co-creators in these centers. That is how community takes responsibility for its children lovingly and compassionately.
Of course there are issues of single parenthood, single income families, ambitions of both parents etc that need to be addressed, but simplification of life and the joy of being around our kids, must drive this whole path, and not passing the buck!
The issues are different and in different intensities with economically disadvantaged families. But I am concerned more for the urban families living in cities who speak or understand English and read wise books from all over the world, as I am part of this kind of community right now!