Focus on ‘alternative education’ for children

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Focus on ‘alternative education’ for children


CHENNAI: As a parent do you sometimes find yourself wondering if your child is getting a “real education?” If he/she is going to the right school or learning the right way? If those questions keep you awake at night, then stay assured that you are no longer in a minority.


A group of people were exercised enough the concept of real education to meet at a day-long conference last week to share notes and learn from others’ experiences. “We sometimes say alternative education, in the sense that we follow a pattern that is not followed by conventional pedagogy as we see in schools today,” Vidya Shankar of Relief Foundation, the conference organiser says.


While “alternative education” is often defined as “home education” for children that is not the line participants were advancing. “We are talking about facilitating home education and co-operative learning, with the involvement of parent networks. It is no longer a single child studying in isolation at home. 10-15 children learn together in a group in a conducive atmosphere created for them by their parents who will also participate in the process,” she adds.


Real education allows the child to learn experientially. The tendency is to dismiss this as something for children with learning disability. Ms. Shankar says it is not the case. “The cue should come from the child. If your child will be happy learning in a large school with all its attendant expectations, then that is where he/she should be. On the other hand, it is possible to tell if a child is uncomfortable with that kind of a situation, if only the parents listen to the child.”


Children with multiple talents, creative and with an expansive view of the world are perhaps bored with “low-calibre teachers” demanding rote learning from them.


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