Starting A New School #3. Its Happening!
So, it is final. We are withdrawing our kids from their regular school. Over the last few months, we have been on a journey of discovery about what education really is, we have dug deep into alternative education, attended events, met homeschoolers, unschoolers and seen innovative learning centers. The journey has led us to think deeply about culture, society and what it means to live a good life.
And here is the best thing, we are not alone. All over the country and world, people are waking up to the pointlessness of going to school and sitting in classrooms all day. People are questioning what is taught, how it is taught, why is it taught, and how the system completely ignores the needs of the learner. People have taken bold steps, and are raising their children in ways that makes sense to them, and so are we.
We are calling ourselves “Learners’ Collective Foundation” which is registered as a Section 25 not-for-profit corporation under the Companies Act. We have also found an amazing host school in Sadhana Vidyalaya, Sion run by a bunch of intellectuals who are also as keen as us to experiment new systems of education.
The center starts June of 2019!
The Two Kinds of Schools
Alternative schooling comes in many flavours, each giving a different degree of freedom and nudges to the learner, but ultimately they agree on more things, than they disagree. Broadly there are only two types of schools or learning systems:
- Same age groups taught a fixed curriculum, all at the same time, working towards a matriculation certificate (national or international).
- Mixed age groups, learning and discovering things connected to their life, that make them curious, and not affiliated to any board.
We belong to the second system. So how is this going to work?
Most Common Questions
In the past few months, we have met many parents, conducted trial runs, invited speakers and attended events. Here are the most common questions that are in people’s mind, and their answers:
1. If there is no board affiliation, how can kids pursue higher education?
2. How will children socialize with other kids of their age, and engage with society?
It is an assumption that home schooled children are less social, or aloof. Apart from schools, our families, neighbourhoods, cities are all communities where they have to co-operate and live. In fact it is in schools they are told to be disengaged and submissive, and they have very little say in what they do. The learning center will be a space they will run cooperatively with others so we hope they will learn to engage, cooperate, persuade others around them in their journey.
3. How will you evaluate progress? What if the children end up being slackers?
One of the core principles of our system is non-coercion. So if a child wishes not to engage in any kind of activity or exploration or skill building, what shall we do? As of now we are not clear. Here are some thoughts:
- Children are curious by nature, left by themselves, they will develop interest in some activity, skill or another.
- We will expose them to excellence and encourage them to critically evaluate and compare their work to the best in the field.
- We will try and map their growth in their area of interest so that they develop a system of evaluation and growth.
4. How will a typical day look like?
It depends on the child! There will be some structure, for example:
- Circle time in the morning.
- Planned sessions by visiting experts.
- Group activities like cooking, cleaning and growing plants.
- Access to books, computers, toys, puzzles, worksheets.
- Field trips, city excursions!
- One-on-one discussions about goals and progress.
5. How many kids will join in the first year?
For the first year, the goal is just to get started. The target age group is 5–15 and in the first year, we expect anywhere between 7–10 children. It is natural that in the first year, people will see if we are really serious, and then observe how we operate. In the given space, we can fit about 20–25 children.
6. How will you take decisions?
While we are not against the term democratic schooling, it will be more driven by dialog and consensus. We believe that taking everyone along takes longer but ultimately is the right model for us going forward. And rules will be made as we go along. There will be situations, diverging opinions, conflicts that we have not anticipated and as long as we define a way to have a dialog and resolve such issues, we will be fine.
7. How much will this cost?
Like we mentioned, this is a non profit, so all the costs will be transparent. For the space and minimum staff, we expect a cost of Rs 1 lakh per child for the first year. If you are joining us, as long as you agree in alternate schooling, you are part of the core community and we don’t see ourselves as service providers.
Are You Interested?
We are actively looking for fellow travelers on this journey! We don’t guarantee anything, but the deep dive into what is really life and living about. Explore what is the best way to make our future generations prepared for the world they will be living in, and make new friends on the way!
Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;
Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,
And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.
I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I —
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.