WE DON’T NEED NO EDUCATION…
Many many years ago while at college I had read a book by M. Scott Peck called the “Road Less Travelled”. It had significant impact on me, yet the life I chose was pretty conventional with few deviations.
So it comes as a breath of fresh air when you see people live extraordinary lives, throwing caution to wind and actually walking the road less travelled. It makes you sit up and ponder could I have possibly lived another way, could there have been a better way of doing things, are multiple routes possible? And nothing better than having someone at close quarters walking that unconventional path.
Meet my cousin Sayali Patwardhan who has chosen a different path for not only herself but that of her daughter Nia too. For society it was a gamble when she first chose to home-school her little one. As she gained more access to people in this space she made acquaintance with “unschooling”. A term coined by American educator John Holt in 1970. With “unschooling” learning is through natural life experiences, play, household responsibilities, personal interests and curiosity, internships and work experience, travel, books, family, mentors and social interaction.
While it may sound really simple, having a kid at home 24/7 definitely is no easy task. Until a certain age most parents heave a sigh of relief on Monday morning when kids are ready to go to school. Besides the sacrifice of not being able to pursue one’s own goal or career with a kid at home full time.
At 4 and a half today, Nia speaks Hindi, English, Marathi and Spanish, a concerted effort made by the extended family where each member picked up one language and spoke to her specifically only in that language.
All the walls in the house are full of her doodling and artwork. She loves to make up impromptu songs and they are really well thought out pieces.
Since the last two months Sayali has been house sitting for a couple who run a bed and breakfast at a hill station, while they are away on vacation. This has given her even greater opportunity to spend time exclusively with Nia. They go for long nature walks, dabble in a lot of art and craft, visit animal shelters, sing, read, cook etc….
We’re on the cusp of massive change, a 7.4 billion population, ecology hanging on by a thread, fossil fuels depleted, water scarcity and hunger. In these circumstances the need of the day is for unconventional, out of the box thinkers who will be able to find solutions to modern day problems. Would conventional education offer solutions to our problems or just add to them? Is there a dire need to allow people to think unrestrained, be free to explore “Thought without boundaries”. As I sit thinking of Sayali, Nia, unschooling and the future I am reminded of a song written 40 years ago –
We don’t need no education
We don’t need no thought control
No dark sarcasm in the classroom
Teachers leave them kids alone
Hey! Teachers! Leave them kids alone
All in all it’s just another brick in the wall
All in all you’re just another brick in the wall
~ Pink Floyd
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