Thursday, February 11, 2010

Why we chose to educate our children at home

As-Salaam Alaikum Wa-rahmatullahi Wa-Barakatuhu,

The following is a defense for home education, which was written to a sister some months back. Alhumdulillah, we are now a full fledged home educating family. We'd like to share this for those wondering why we took the plunge:

Dear sister, I know this response comes rather late, but I’d like to share my 2 cents here (in my country - Pakistan even 2 cents is worth something! ) My kids are currently in what is considered one of the best schools in the city, it's not an religious school (no Hifiz) but tries its best to give tarbeeyah and importance of values. My husband and I have been reading up on unschooling and homeschooling lately, we work with tarbeeyah programs for teenagers too, and we’ve come to the conclusion: the very institution of school is flawed.

A school teacher cannot cater to the emotional and even academic needs of each individual child. Children learn to work because of their fear of looking bad in class and being humiliated by teachers or peers. “Good students” have the pressure of having to look “good” can’t afford to make too many mistakes or make their lack of understanding apparent – they have a reputation to maintain. Students are motivated to work for stickers and empty words of praise, rarely do they experience the sense of achievement and pleasure attained from getting knowledge because they wanted it: striving to learn because one is curious to know. Knowledge in itself is no longer a goal it’s a means to empty goals: an A grade or a star sticker. This knowledge doesn’t have any worth to the child and once the pressure of the examination is gone, the knowledge is gone too.

In the case of school forced Islamic knowledge, often a child will find it a burden and soon seeking Islamic knowledge for the sake of Allah’s pleasure will be replaced by learning because of the fear of attaining a teacher’s displeasure.

Teachers aren’t horrible people (schools feel the best teachers are those who can “control” their class best though), but they are pressured into “completing a syllabus and preparing the class for the next grade”, students needing more time to understand a topic must be left behind (with the constant fear of “failure” on their heads) and faster students must wait till the majority of the class is ready to move on to a new topic, no time to delve deeply into a topic that interests a particular person, the class must move like a crowd; ending their curiosity and leaving life skills to be taught at home.

At home? Schools here emphasize how important it is for parents to bond with their kids and give tarbeeyah, but after the best hours of the day (when both children and adults are alert and active) the remainder of the day goes into homework (extension of school and a pressure on both children and parents); many take tuitions because children need more time and practice to keep up with the teacher; and the wrapping up of the day – dinner, quick chat with Abbi, maybe a little time to wind down and play or read something the school hasn’t ordered them to and then rush to bed so that their fresh for school the next day.

Many are so used to this paradigm it seems impossible to “learn” anything unless dictated to by an authority (school) who changes its orders according to how previous students have reacted to their orders. The current latest methods of teaching in school will change after our kids pass out of school because the methods were flawed and there are better ways now…

Some parents like schools to babysit there kids and obviously if the child hasn’t achieved much we can blame the school who in turn blames the parents for not trying hard enough…

Teaching at home doesn't mean you must do it alone; workshops and tutors are a part of homeschooling, where a family can chose what they want to study and making a choice for one’s self makes the child learn what he wants to know, you don’t really have many choices at school.

Sorry for rambling on, I know I sound like a fresh homie, but as much as my kids enjoy school, I realize there is a better way, I want them to value knowledge and use it. Often my husband says that if families did their part, we wouldn’t need so many Tarbeeyah classes here, families can provide good roles models from amongst themselves and others in society if they had the time to get the children in contact with good adults. School really takes up most of our time here in Pakistan.

There are lots of articles online by John Holt and about unschooling, about homeschooling by teachers explaining the flaws of school (John Gatto – Dumbing us Down), maybe when your husband feels he has time to spare you can read them together and discuss them. Allah has made education a right our children have upon us, may He help us attain the means that with help us forfill their rights and attain Allah’s Pleasure, Aameen.

Well that’s my couple Rupees worth. May Allah grant you and your family success in this world and the hereafter, Aameen.

1 comment:

  1. Assalam o Alikum
    Jazak Allah for such a lovely article. I'm a mother of 11 month Old Child and I'm planning to Homeschool him. Do you live in Karachi? Because I'm searching for all the support and HE Groups.. so that I'll be prepared when we start this journey. My parents and my hubby's parents are against it but we know what is best for our child. Please reply soon