Sunday, September 2, 2012


The thought of homeschooling crossed my mind many times in the course of my son's growing up years... thankfully he's out of the system and survived. And it has revisited itself again lately... In a way, I am thankful for the recent incident where I'm reminded again that I need to buck up. When things are more or less smooth, we are more inclined to remain immobile. Status quo is very appealing; one does not want rock one's boat and instead hope that whatever shortcomings will eventually right itself....

With Son, I kept an eye by getting directly involved with his schooling, coaching him in his school lessons. But it was rather tiring, working and trying to learn so many things at the same time, though being a teacher and having a gung-ho attitude helped. But it was super tiring. But am thankful that I found strength to do that. Tuition was at bare minimum and he survived up till Form 6!

What is the purpose of education really? Is it to ensure that our kids score strings of A(s) only? They are important but are there other things which lie beyond this goal? Obviously yes but they way we go around thing seems not to imply that. Kids attend so many tuitions these days that they have no time to read, explore on their own. Spoon feeding has become the norm and many prefer to just sit and wait for the teacher to move them.

In the past few years, I've realised how important reading is. I mean I've always known that but I've come to appreciate how reading trains the mind and attitude in making us better learners. Without good reading habits and ability, lifelong learning becomes more difficult. And generally kids read less these days. They have less time and more pressing needs.

This is an age of tremendous changes... the late Sir John Templeton in his Financial Chaos memo, written in 2005 envisioned that in as quickly as 50 years, as much as 90% of education will be done electronically. And I think we will need a great degree of individual independence to get maximum benefit. Our schools don't prepare our kids to learn independently, nor seems able to inculcate creative and critical thinking. In my school I am seeing more bored kids... perhaps it's only unique in my school. I don't know. Our views tend to be shaped by our environment. But perhaps my environment is not the norm and everywhere kids are thriving in our education system.

And if anything too, the latest open essay episode my gal went through seem to have highlighted to me how one track our Chinese vernacular schools are. And how there is a lack of questioning among the teachers for themselves. But perhaps it's uniformity they seek. And perhaps too, that reflects the Chinese mindset. Even in Science, the kids are expected to churn out answers in prescribed ways. We have always felt that Chinese school was a better option compared to national schools because of the discipline and diligence. Most national schools pale in comparison to Chinese schools in these areas. The rigours one goes through are undisputed.

But Chinese schools are without problems.

Could it be the language of instruction? We are often told, Bahasa Mencerminkan Budaya... Language is a reflection of one's culture. Chinese are authoritarian, Malays too if you look at the konsep daulat... the culture here does not encourage questioning. Perhaps it's too simplistic of way of looking at things but sometimes I wonder. Where do we see the most creative and meaningful outputs?

I have been reading up again on homeschooling in greater frequency these last few days. And I've also made a few friends online who have shared their experiences. Many of my friends are already homeschooling their kids. And some already have college going kids. Theirs is the road less taken. I wonder whether I'll be brave enough to walk it.


Thomas C B Chua said...

AJ7, they need to socialise. You see, my younger daughter stayed at our condo on her own when she was attending U. She commuted daily. I discovered that she has fewer friends compared to her elder sister who went through house renting and campus life. We can institutionalize them but then keep a close watch and supplement their input from school. For that reason I observe that many Form 6 students cling on to this and that teacher in tuition classes to get the best which they do not get in school. The poor souls could have been given a mediocre teacher in school who cannot help them. No all teachers are expert in their field. Many "cari makan" ones are still lurking around.

AJ7 said...

Yup! You are right. They need to socialize. But these days, the socializing in school also don't seem to having the desired effects very often. Too busy of a life they lead, just like us adults. From school tuition, mostly superficial interactions. Good friends, as has always been, remain far and few. 8(