Alice Lele is a mother to two beautiful daughter’s (15 and 14 years) who never went to school. She speaks about her decision to homeschool being grounded in her deep faith in the Bible and what the Bible says about parents’ responsibility towards the nurturing of the uniqueness of each child. Her faith has been her and her family’s biggest strength and inspiration. Presented below is the transcript of her talk at Swashikshan launch. Her husband Rajesh Lele also joined in and shared his views on Homeschooling.
At the very outset I have to make it clear that it is our Christian worldview that is responsible for everything in our lives including our decision to homeschool our daughters. As with other things in our life our decision to homeschool is based upon what we learned progressively from the Bible and found to be true in life. We have had God guide us at every stage of our lives, homeschooling and otherwise. At the right time doors have miraculously opened for us whether it was for curriculum or for extracurricular activities for our daughter’s right up to this May/June when we met Shailaja Karnam through whom our older daughter has appeared for the IGCSE exams (class X) in Hyderabad.
The following points explain what we have learned and believe to be true. The reason I have listed this is because it is the bedrock upon which our homeschool experience is based. It may seem like I am digressing from the point, but as you read further you will find that all we have done and how our homeschooling experience has panned out will find its roots in our biblical worldview. Our convictions were:
- God has a plan for our lives.
- That plan is unique to each life and there is no one else that can accomplish that plan.
- All that we will need to accomplish that purpose has been built into us by God; much like the potential for a plant has been built into a seed.
- Each person’s success and fulfilment lies in realising this truth and then cooperating with God by allowing Him to bring that plan to fruition.
- This then implies that there is only one of us in all of creation. And if this is the case then we can be compared to no other as the basis of comparison is similarity. For example, two apples can be compared and one can be declared better or worse than the other. But apples and oranges cannot be compared in the same way.
- Children are a gift from God.
- God equips every set of parents with everything from temperament to skills to bring up that particular child, to prepare and equip that child to discover and enter into the purpose for which he/she has been created. For example, mothers are the ones who are able to instinctively differentiate between the different cries of the child (hungry, sleepy, wet etc.).
- All that is created belongs to God including our children. And parents are stewards / care takers of them for the time that He chooses to leave them with them. Parents will be called to give account to God for the way in which they have raised their children. This implies that parents are fully responsible for all aspects of their children’s growth and development and delegation of this to anyone else is equal to abdication of a God given responsibility.
We learned all of the above progressively as we read and studied the Bible. Today as we look back we can state it as we have above. While the learning was in progress, we had nothing but a strong inner sense that we should homeschool that kept us going. It was as vague (to others) as a strong feeling within us that this was what we should be doing and nothing else.
We did face challenges in this journey. Some of the challenges were:
- Convincing family.
- Answering neighbours, friends and all and sundry that asked us or our girls “Which school do they go to?”
- No structure (curriculum, guidelines, rules etc.) in place for homeschooling.
- No way of evaluating whether we were on the right track in what we were doing.
- No formal qualifications in teaching children.
- Facing the disapproval of all and sundry in pulling our older daughter out from school.
Apart from the challenges there were also some myths that needed to be busted in our minds first. The key myths were as follows:
- Academic performance alone is sufficient to evaluate the potential and value and worth of a child.
- Learning can happen only in a school environment.
- The socialisation that takes place in school is very essential to the child’s overall development.
- Homeschooling is equal to isolation from other children and society at large.
We faced challenges and broke myths but there were still some challenges that we were expecting. Surprisingly they did not come our way. This included
disciplining our children, moderating television, managing sibling relationships, loneliness and boredom, lack of friends to play with and isolation.