Parenting 101

Educational Pathways in India: Traditional, Homeschooling, and Unschooling

Educational Pathways in India: Traditional, Homeschooling, and Unschooling

India’s education has long been rooted in traditional ways, but the scene is changing. Indian parents are looking at alternative approaches to educational experience for their children as homeschooling and unschooling become more popular. This blog post provides a detailed comparison of these educational paths focusing on examples from the Indian context. 

Historical Context

Gurukul system existed in India around 5000 BC. It had a residential system where students (shishya) lived with their teachers (guru) in close proximity usually in guru’s ashram. This approach laid emphasis on holistic development including mental, cognitive, physical and spiritual well-being.

Traditional Schooling
Structure and Evolution

British established education system in India used to be state-run, but after the 42nd Amendment of the Constitution of India (1976), it fell under the concurrent list thereby enabling policies upon recommendations by central government as well. New Education Policy (NEP), 2020 replaced earlier 10+2+3 system with 5+3+3+4.

Traditional schooling in India, like anywhere else, is based on a structured approach and standardized curriculum. Schools such as those under Delhi Public School or DAV offer robust frameworks for education to follow a prescribed curricula following the CBSE or ICSE boards.

Example: Each day in DPS starts with the morning assembly followed by classes on subjects like math, science and languages. They also have co-curricular activities such as sports, arts and music that are important in wholesome development that is emphasized by Indian education philosophy. 

Pros of traditional schooling:

Structured Learning: The curriculum provides comprehensive education that prepares students for such competitive exams as JEE or NEET.

Qualified Educators: Teachers bring their expertise and methodical approach to learning. 

Social Interaction: Students acquire social skills through regular interaction with friends.

Extracurricular Activities: Schools organize numerous activities, thus promoting holistic development.

Recognized Qualifications: Formal education results in certifications that are necessary for higher education and employment

Cons of traditional schooling:

Rote Learning: A concentration on memorization may narrow down critical thinking and creativity.

Standardized Testing: Exams that are high-stake can cause anxiety and take away the fun of studying.

Limited Flexibility: The rigid program leaves little space for personal hobbies.

Costs: Some families cannot afford private schools due to their high costliness. 

Examples of Traditional Schooling:

Public Schools: Public schools follow government-mandated curricula, and are funded by taxpayers. They serve a diverse student population and are governed by local or state educational authorities.

Private Schools: Private schools operate independently of government oversight, and may offer alternative educational philosophies or specialized programs. They typically charge tuition fees, and may have smaller class sizes compared to public schools.

International Schools: International schools cater to expatriate families or students seeking an international education. They often follow curricula from multiple countries, such as the International Baccalaureate (IB) or Cambridge Assessment International Education (CAIE).

Read more: CBSE vs ICSE vs IB - What are the differences and which is the best choice for your child

Homeschooling: The Emerging Trend

In India, homeschooling is picking up as parents seek personalized learning for their children. For instance, Swashikshan – Indian Association of Homeschoolers. 

Example: The Mehta family from Bangalore has elected to teach their daughter Ananya at home. They have integrated traditional subjects, and her interest in Bharatanatyam into a curriculum to enable her to explore the dance form further with an eye on continuing her academics.

Pros of home-schooling:

Personalized Curriculum: Parents are able to personalize the curriculum based on the child’s learning style.

Flexible Scheduling: This enables learning at any time and makes it possible for travel and other activities.

One-on-One Attention: Parents can pay attention on specific educational requirements of their children.

Safe Learning Environment: Children study at home where they are safe and more comfortable.

Strong Family Bonds: Families that homeschool together are closer to each other than others.

Cons of home-schooling:

Time Consuming for Parents: Parents must set aside much time in order to teach their children.

Socializing Problems: Finding opportunities for kids to mingle is quite hard.

Recognition of Accreditation: Home-schooled children may face obstacles in gaining credit for their education.

Materials and Resource Intensive: Educational materials and resources might have to be purchased by the parent.

Legal Gray Area: This can be worrisome because homeschooling is not clearly stipulated within the Indian law system

Boards and Curriculum

National Institute of Open Schooling (NIOS): Offers distance learning program for home-schoolers to register and sit examinations.

International General Certificate of Secondary Education (IGCSE): Another Indian board that homeschooled children can choose.

Popularity in India

Homeschooling, growing slowly but steadily, especially after COVID-19 pandemic that forced many parents to explore. It’s becoming more formalized and competitive, with agencies providing resources for successful homeschooling.

Unschooling: The Alternative Philosophy

Unschooling is a type of education that depends on child-led learning where the child can freely follow their interests and learn at their own speed. It holds that children are inquisitive by nature, and will learn without any formal school if given space to explore and discover. 

Legal Framework

In India, unschooling does not have a specific legal framework, but it falls within the broader homeschooling concept which is legally recognized. The Right to Education Act does not stipulate compulsory attendance of formal schools, allowing room for educational alternatives such as unschooling.

Unschooling is a rather new idea in Indian context; however, families are slowly starting to accept its principles as an alternative educational approach.

For example: Dhruv, a teenager being unschooled from MP spends his time learning dance and Digital marketing, He sketches in his free time, and also takes interest in his father’s BPO business. His parents allow for this by availing materials, and introducing him to experts who may be relevant in such areas for further learning purposes.

Pros:

Child-Led Learning: Children’s interests are followed resulting into enthusiastic learning.

Real-World Skills: Learning through real life experiences that develop practical skills.

Creativity and Innovation: Creative problem solving and thinking out of the box is often the result of unschooling.

Emotional Well-being: The absence of grading systems in unschooling reduces anxiety levels for students.

Cons:

Lack of Structure: Some children may require more guidance than unschooling provides.

Social Perception: Unschooling is mostly not understood and accepted in India, leading to social pressure.

Transition to Formal Education: Acclimatizing to formal education system; this will be difficult for unschooled children who later on decide to join a normal school.

Documentation for Higher Education: Providing evidence of learning for college applications can be challenging.

Choosing the Right Educational Path

The choice between traditional education, homeschooling, and unschooling is based on the values of the family, resources available and learning style of a child. Each way has its own advantages and disadvantages, but the most effective one is that which inculcates passion for learning, and enhances the learner’s talents to the maximum.

This blog would serve as a useful tool for parents and teachers around India by exploring different methods of teaching from various angles with examples and some pros and cons regarding each method. The decision about education is very personal; hence, please carefully weigh all options before settling on a path of education.

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Article Author

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Kanishka Chawla

Kanishka Chawla is a Award-winning Educator ⭐️ Inspirational Speaker ✨ Holistic Well-being Advocate. With over a decade of experience in personal development and empowerment, Kanishka Chawla is a highly respected figure in the field. As an accomplished Author, Life Coach, and Internationally Certified NLP Trainer, she has dedicated her career to helping individuals unlock their full potential and lead fulfilling lives. She has inspired individuals to overcome obstacles, tap into their true potential, and lead more fulfilling lives through her teachings and inspirational talks.

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