International Homeschooling News
These stories illustrate some interesting ways that homeschooling is working in other countries.
First, in heavily industrialized societies like the United States, school is incredibly difficult to change from within. Any survey of efforts to make schooling more personalized, local-community-based, and convivial over the past century will show that these efforts get subsumed or ignored by the push to make schooling more standardized, national, and competitive by educators and politicians. However, in countries that do not yet have such an inflexible, industrialized schooling infrastructure in place there are opportunities for remaking schooling into something different for families. Here is one such story, from the Philippines, where homeschooling is promoted by the Department of Education as a means to reduce overcrowding in its schools. Of note here is that this program is focused on high school students and the number of students being asked to home school: 10,000! You can read the full article here: Philippine DOE supports homeschooling to ease overcrowding. Read the comments of school officials regarding how well the homeschooled students have done in this program since 2002:
Quezon City is the only school division implementing the program so far, according to Education Assistant Secretary Jesus Mateo. DepEd started the program in 2002 but there were years when it was not implemented on such a large scale.
“We’ve explained it to the parents and they understand the system. We’ve been doing it for three years (in Quezon City) and our students do well. They graduate, go to college and even go abroad,” Cacanindin said on the sidelines of a school inspection in Cubao, Quezon City, on Thursday.
Betty Cavo, also an assistant schools superintendent in Quezon City, said home-schooled students had fared well in the National Achievement Test over the past years.
Home study is one of the alternatives recommended by DepEd for schools whose enrollments far exceed their classroom space and resources, particularly those in urban centers.
Under the program, students can take their lessons at home following modules patterned after the regular curriculum and meet with their teachers only on Saturdays. They graduate with a high school diploma just like any regular student.
I am interested in hearing from anyone with experience in the Philippine homeschooling program; I’d like to know if it is just a school-at-home program, where the parents just do what the schools tell them to do, or if there is input from the families regarding how their children learn at home (the article is very unclear on details). In any case, this is another piece of evidence that being taught by professionals in school all day is not the only way that children can learn and become contributors to society.
The second story comes from India:
Satyam Kumar, all of 12 and with little formal schooling, has cracked the tough Indian Institute of Technology-Joint Entrance Examination (IIT-JEE). He is the youngest to do so . . . Kumar never saw the inside of a classroom in his childhood but always showed exceptional intelligence. “He used to impress everyone. But in the absence of a proper school in our village, he mostly studied at home,” his father Sidhnath Singh said.
There are many such stories in the literature of homeschooling and school reform: a poor young person, whose parents or others recognize talents to which the school is indifferent (or, as in this case, not even present), is nonetheless able to succeed in life, including getting into higher education. How many talented children are we neglecting by focusing only on learners who attend school from kindergarten to college? Sugata Mitra’s work (see Competent Children) suggests there are a great many children, in India alone, who are capable of learning many difficult things on their own (Mitra’s research shows how these children teach themselves and one another to use a computer, for instance, with no adult help).