More parents take to home-schooling their kids, term school studies as rote-learning

Children have always learned naturally from grandparents, parents and elder siblings by accompanying them to the market, to the jungle, to the river, or to the fields. Helping with daily tasks of sowing, harvesting, hunting, food gathering, wood cutting, thatching, attending cattle and so on… children acquire valuable knowledge about biodiversity, medicinal plants, animal husbandry, agriculture, water conservation, house construction, fishing, pottery, weaving, painting … That is EDUCATION!! http://ancientroots.in/children-tomorrows-custodians-of-traditional-knowledge-part-1/

Now it looks like city dwellers have caught on to this and are taking on to homeschooling in a big way. Here is an article in the Times of India by Freny Fernandes….

Seven-year-old Aditi Choudhary is intensely poring over a copy of an atlas and correctly spells out the capital of all nations on the globe when asked. After a pat of appreciation, she resorts to learning math. Nothing out of the ordinary, except that Aditi is getting her lessons at home and not in school for the past three years.

She is being home-schooled, just like the growing number of other children whose parents have taken responsibility as teachers, instead of sending their wards to school for what they call rote learning.

“The schools are preparing them for a rat-race. It is not about gaining knowledge these days. It is all about rote-learning and preparing them for a job market. I do not subscribe to this concept,” says Maya Choudhary , Aditi’s mother.

Shubhangi Bagul, an artist and resident of Louis Wadi, is determined to pull out her fouryear-old son from a school in Thane after a year of observing the way he was being taught.

“We enrolled our son in the junior KG of a popular school with lots of hope. The first thing that disappointed us was that it was overcrowded with 68 children and one teacher to handle them. The school’s approach was a very standard, one-size fits-them all pattern where a child’s natural instinct takes a beating,” she says.

Shubhangi’s husband, Chetanraj, also an artist, says that he wanted his son’s ability at creativity, imagination and understanding to be nurtured and sharpened. “Home-schooling is an alternative education system that can allow holistic growth, “ he says.

Most of the 500-group of parents from Thane and Mumbai who are home-schooling their children say that taking on the role of a teacher requires 100 per cent commitment.

Shruti Patil, who took an infinite sabbatical from her career in architecture to homeschool her three daughters, says, “I have not gone to work ever since I took the responsibility of teaching my children. Every night I have to think of ways to teach basic concepts to them in an interesting way. I even took a course on phonetics from Deborah Rodrigues to understand it better before teaching them. I am constantly reading up on child psychology, etc. to help me teach them better. “

Adapted from May 17 2015 issue of The Times of India (Thane) by Freny Fernandes.

Driving safety in India

Those who have driven in developed countries and then driven in India will realize the stress that this activity brings about when you drive on the roads in India.

Figure 1 A common sight on Indian roads in 2014

 

Often this stress is not recognised by the majority of Indians because they have not simply experienced anything different.

Figure 2 How road safety works

There are rules and simple measures which can bring down the stress associated with driving by over 90%. Take for instance the universal respect or the STOP sign at intersections, which does not even require any electricity or high technology.

After the demise of a Minister recently in a car accident in Delhi, the Government has woken up to the need for improving driving safety, as this report in today’s Hindustan Times Newspaper says:

 

6 Jun 2014, Hindustan Times (Mumbai)Moushumi Das Gupta letters@hindustantimes.com

‘Motor Vehicle Act will be upgraded to int’l standards’

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NEW DELHI: India’s Motor Vehicle Act will be re-drafted within a month in line with advanced international practices to enhance road safety, said road transport, highways and shipping minister Nitin Gadkari on Thursday. The new bill may include measures such as installing CCTV cameras at traffic signals, redesigning heavy vehicles and centralising data to check misuse of driving licences.

 


 

NEW DELHI: Two days after Union minister Gopinath Munde died in a road accident, the NDA government on Thursday pledged to overhaul the 26-year-old motor vehicle law that it said wasn’t saving lives but spawning corruption instead.

“The law has become antiquated and lost its relevance. We will scrap it and bring in a fresh law. The broad contours of the new law will be ready in a month’s time,” Union transport minister Nitin Gadkari said after a review of road safety regulations. Gadkari told officials at the review that the old law was mostly being used by cops to harass the public and make money.

 


 

As part of the overhaul process, Gadkari has directed ministry officials to study how countries such as United Kingdom and Singapore – which have fewer road fatalities compared to India — tackle traffic violations. “We will study best practices in ten countries before drafting our law,” he said.

India has one of the worst road- safety records in the world, with a road accident every minute and a fatality on the road every three-to-four minutes. Approximately 137,000 people died in road accidents in the country last year alone.

 


 

The 1988 Motor Vehicles Act was last amended in 2001. Several committees have been set up since then to recommend changes to the law. In March 2012, the UPA cabinet, for the third time after coming to power in 2004, approved the draft Motor Vehicle Amendment Bill that proposed hefty fines for traffic violations. However, low priority accorded to road safety issues ensured that the bill didn’t get cleared by Parliament.

Gadkari said that the proposed law would provide for greater technology-based interventions to minimize road accidents and check violations. “We want to cut down on human intervention. The reliance would be on sophisticated IT-based systems,” he said.


Road ministry officials said they want the new bill to be ready for introduction in Parliament during the budget session. “We are working on a war footing to draft the new law,” Gadkari said.

What about exams or tests?

One of the most common questions we encounter as parents of three homeschooled kids is: What about exams?

Let us start with the basics: An examination, commonly known as exam, is a test to see how good somebody is at something.

If that ‘somebody’ is your child and he or she happens to attend school, the only way the teacher and you as a parent can find out how much your child has understood is by giving him a formal test.

A test or examination is an assessment intended to measure a test-taker’s knowledge or rarely skill.

A test may be administered orally, on paper, on a computer, or in a confined area that requires a test taker to physically perform a set of skills. Tests vary in style, rigor and requirements. For example, in a closed book test, a test taker is often required to rely upon memory to respond to specific items whereas in an open book test, a test taker may use one or more supplementary tools such as a reference book or calculator when responding to an item. A test may be administered formally or informally.

An example of an informal test would be a reading test administered by a parent to a child.

An example of a formal test would be a final examination administered by a teacher in a classroom.


Figure 1 A formal test in process

So what people really want to know is what about formal tests for homeschooled children?

The beauty of homeschooling is that the parents, being the teachers of the child, know exactly what their children are learning and have understood at any point in time, by giving them informal tests all the time. So for them there is really no need to do any formal testing at all! Who else needs to know how much their child has understood? Who cares for their child more than they themselves, the parents? We as parents often go beyond testing too, to find out the heart of the child, something that cannot be measured by any test.

So my simple answer to people who ask me this question is: ofcourse we as parents test them regularly and informally. There is absolutely no need to do formal testing, with all its associated tensions for the child, parent and teacher as the case may be. As the homeschooled child grows older, he or she can take formal tests as deemed fit by the parents, if they wish to prepare him or her for entry into colleges.

There are different options for homeschooled children to take formal exams at different levels, like the Macmillan International Assessment for Indian Students, The NIOS and the IGCSE etc. You will find out more details of these on my other blogs. Relax and have a nice relaxed exam-free day J

 

 

 

Schools, Obesity, Activism and Education

Obesity on the rise in developing world: Report


The number of obese and overweight people in the developing world nearly quadrupled to almost a billion between 1980 and 2008, a thinktank report said on Friday. There are now far more obese or overweight adults in the developing world than in richer countries, the Overseas Development Institute (ODI) said.
The London-based institute said more than a third of all adults around the world — 1.46 billion people — were obese or overweight. Between 1980 and 2008, the numbers of people affected in the developing world rose from 250 million to 904 million. In the developed world, the figure rose from 321 million to 557 million.
“The growing rates of overweight and obesity in developing countries are alarming,” said ODI research fellow Steve Wiggins, who co-authored the Future Diets report. [Times of India 4th January 2014]

In a recent survey cum intervention program conducted by Dr. Mathew, he was surprised to find that one third of sixth grade students were obese in a well-known school in Borivali that had an attached playground! One can only imagine the plight of schools without playgrounds.

Most schools do not have their own playgrounds

As you must have read in the newspapers recently, this is a shocking statistic. Please read https://drspmathew.wordpress.com/2014/01/04/75-schools-dont-have-playgrounds/ to know more.

One possible solution is Homeschooling. In Homeschooling parents are the role models and teachers of their children, for values as well as learning. Parents teach children how to learn, so that together they can go on this journey of learning and discovering. Education has moved out of the classroom into the real world, are you prepared for the future?


Most open spaces in Mumbai have been encroached illegally robbing citizens of playgrounds and recreational grounds

This is another problem that we citizens in cities have been facing. Citizen activism is seen as the key here. http://newlinkroad.wordpress.com/2012/03/10/open-spaces-in-mumbai/

City neighborhoods barely have open spaces for relaxation and enjoyment of the outdoors. The result has taken a toll on our quality of life. The recent success of the AAP has shown the power that ordinary people can exert if they focus and persevere to be a change in their God-given area.

So parents and friends, what are you waiting for? Take charge of your life, the education of your children, and the life of your neighborhood. There is never a better time than now.

75% schools don’t have playgrounds

‘75% schools in India don’t have playgrounds’ reports Hindustan Times in their 4th January 2014 paper.

WHILE PRIVATE UNAIDED SCHOOLS CAN AFFORD TO RENT OR BUY GROUNDS OR SPORTS CLUBS, STUDENTS IN AIDED SCHOOLS OFTEN HAVE TO PLAY ON POORLY MAINTAINED CIVIC GROUNDS. AND RTE RULES ARE APPLICABLE ONLY TO AIDED SCHOOLS!

This means that many aided schools, which have to comply with Right To Education Act conditions, are not providing any means of physical exercise for their students.


The resulting epidemic of obesity and other lifestyle diseases in the younger generation in urban India can only get worse, given the fact that the majority of children still attend traditional class room model schools.

Unless the Government actively promotes alternative education and homeschooling, such lifestyle diseases are bound to increase in the coming years.

MUMBAI: In space starved city such as Mumbai, few students have the opportunity to play on the school playgrounds. According to figures from the education department, nearly 75% of schools in the city do not have playgrounds, despite it being one of the mandatory infra-structure norms stipulated in the Right to Education Act.

Deprived of playgrounds on their premises, schools are forced to either rent or purchase playgrounds. However schools complained that there is no government support for schools trying to acquire playgrounds.

“We do not have a playground in the school but we have a big ground next to the school. But for the past few years, they have stopped students from using this ground,” said Chandrakanta Pathak, principal, Hindi Vidya Bhavan, Marine Lines.

Some private unaided schools such as the Podar Education Network group of schools in Santacruz have bought playgrounds close to the school.

“Since we do not have a ground inside the school premises, we had to buy another ground close to the school. Our school buses ferry the students to and from the ground,” said Avnita Bir, principal of RN Podar School.

While private unaided schools can afford to rent or purchase good quality grounds or sports clubs, students studying in aided schools often have to play on poorly maintained civic grounds, said academicians. “Aided schools always lose out on good quality sports as they do not have the funds to rent playgrounds. The government should provide them grants for this purpose,” said Arundhati Chavan, president of the Parents Teachers Association, United Forum.

IGCSE and Homeschool

Some of us parents met with Ms. Tanya Valecha, Principal of Rustomjee School http://www.school.rustomjee.com/ on Tuesday 18th June 2013. We mentioned to her that we are part of an All India body of Homeschoolers called Swashikshan whose website is http://homeschoolers.in/

The main points discussed were:

  • Homeschooled students giving the IGCSE 10th grade exams
  • Handholding partnership with the school for homeschooled kids who are younger

The Principal was very open and supportive and patiently answered all our questions. She

Homeschooled students giving the IGCSE 10th grade exams

Homeschooled children are most welcome to give the IGCSE exam in Rustomjee. Homeschooled Students are free to choose any subject, only English is compulsory, and the minimum number of subjects is 6. Exams are held in November every year, except Hindi which is held in May. The school can administer exams for most of the subjects except those which need special examiners like for Spanish or German. For these subjects, if the Student arranges Cambridge-certified Examiners, the school can still hold exams.

Since the student will be giving the exam as a private candidate, the school only facilitates the exam and does not provide any training. The school will also not be providing any Leaving Certificate, which is one of the requirements for admission into Junior Colleges in Mumbai.

The IGCSE results come after three months, and they give actual percentages obtained now, previously they used to give grades. This helps the student to know exactly how well they have done. Also in IGCSE there is no artificial boosting of percentages with internal assessments.

She also suggested that a child should take a minimum of 6 subjects at 10th level for admission into colleges.

Handholding partnership with the school for homeschooled kids who are younger

Some parents expressed a desire to homeschool and yet at the same time wished their child to attend ‘exciting’ activities, some classes and exams conducted by the school. The Principal is most happy to accept such students.

Such students will be admitted to the age appropriate grade after an assessment is done, basically for English and Math in lower grades. They are free to attend the class or activity of their choice. They can give the exam as mutually decided, either the Final exam with the whole year’s portion, or divided in three parts. Passing percentage is 40% in all subjects.

If the student leaves the school for whatever reason, the school will give a Leaving certificate, and if the student rejoins, a fresh assessment will be done before the child is taken on the rolls of the school.

The fees applicable for such students will be 50% of the regular fees. I requested the Principal on behalf of Swashikshan to consider reduction in the fees and she promised to discuss this with the management.

She also mentioned that text books can be purchased from book stores first hand or second hand, and course worksheets are also available in case the child wants to do them.

We thank Ms. Tanya Valecha and look forward to further interactions with her and the school.

Hypertension in Children?

Hypertension on the rise among children in city

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MUMBAI: Recently Dr Ajit Menon, a cardiologist at Lilavati Hospital, Bandra, treated a 12-year-old boy for hypertension. The child, doctors suspected, was battling “school-related stress”.
“He complained of regular headaches. We put him on anti-hypertension pills, asked his parents to change his diet and taught him to manage the stress,” said Dr Menon.


The boy is among an increasing number of children and teenagers being treated for hypertension. A recent study by the National Institute of Health in the US shows a rise in the number of children between the ages of two and 18 being hospitalised for hypertension (see box). Though no data for India is available, city doctors say the statistics here could not be very different.

Doctors said while some children have high blood pressure because of physiological problems like kidney ailments, lifestyle – poor diet and high stress – is the main cause of hypertension.



“A majority of school and college-going children eat junk food, which has a high quantity of salt in it. Lack of exercise also makes them obese and puts them at a higher risk of hypertension,” said Dr Rohit Agarwal, member of the Indian Academy of Paediatrics. The anxiety to excel in school is also a major cause. “Parents who push children to get good grades are pushing them to a stage where they need medicines to control stress,” said Dr Menon.

The solution is not just early detection. “Many schools conduct health camps, so teenagers are being diagnosed sooner. They need to make lifestyle changes early to eliminate the risk of damage to the heart and kidneys,” said Dr Ganesh Kumar, head of cardiology, Dr LH Hiranandani Hospital.

A growing number of parents have taken their children’s education and health seriously and decided to homeschool them. Besides individualized teaching tailormade for their child, in homeschooling the whole family gets time to grow in relationships with one another and imbibe family values. Studies have shown that stress levels are considerably lower or absent in homeschooled children as well.