INCLUSION OR HOME SCHOOLING?
This question to me is like;
'What do you need to survive - water or air?'
The answer would be a reaction;
'Don't be stupid we need both.'
We die immediately without air & it takes a bit longer to die without water.
Similarly we cannot think about the progress of our children without home schooling. But without inclusion the progress is going to stop or slow down to a great extent with the increasing age of the child.
We, the parents have very tight mental compartments about formal schooling & home schooling. We see them as different entity & treat them like different subjects in the school curriculum. We have fixed parameters to gauge our children. We have lost the ability to see the child as a whole. As a result we keep on evaluating the child through our set standards. We have distorted the true meaning of schooling. These days schooling is equal to report cards. If home schooling is all that is needed then why since ancient times we are having Aashram shalas, Gurukuls, Vidhyapithhs which has been replaced by schools, colleges & universities?
During ancient times the children of Royal families needed training to face the enemies. They were trained physically & mentally to fight the adversity. The children of families other than the Royal families were prepared to serve their country.
In modern times the basic purpose of schooling remains the same. The institute called school prepares the child to face the real world outside.
What is the need of facing the outer world?
The answer is, we are social animals. We cannot survive without the society. Even the hermits need Sangha. Formal schooling is actually training. Training to listen, training to follow instructions, training to get education, training to have own voice, training to be independent, training to trade, training to be disciplined, training to be a leader, training to be a contributor when working as a team, training to digest a loss & celebrate a win, training to communicate, training to let go & training not to let go, training to choose friends & sustain them for entire life and many more.
What is home schooling? Doing everything mentioned above at home?
Is that possible if you don't go for a formal schooling & continue entirely with home schooling?
I won't give the answer but I will try to explain few things. You decide on your own. Don't take decisions based on my or anyone else's experience.
Our life can be compared with a huge tree. The roots are the result of our home schooling/parenting/culture/immediate environment/people around/educational standards/life style etc. The stem, branches, leaves, fruits are the result of schooling in an institution & exposure to various social circles. A child cannot stand strong without deep rooted roots but cannot have a recognition in outer world without stem, branches, leaves & fruits.
I would like to share one story.
Two neighbours, one middle aged & another young, were staying in adjacent tenements. They had a small garden outside their house. Both planted a sapling on the same day. The middle aged used to water the plant twice a week & that to a minimal amount required to keep the plant alive. The young man used to water the plant daily. He was very regular in spraying the plant hormones & sprinkling fertilizer. The young man used to search for newer things & was applying for the better growth of the plant. The young man's plant grew faster. The middle aged man's plant was also growing but at a slower pace. One day in the midnight there was a heavy rain fall with wind. In the morning when both came out they saw the young man's plant got uprooted & destroyed but the middle aged man's plant was as it was. The young man got surprised & asked the middle aged man the reason. The man replied,' I nurtured the plant fulfilling just half of its requirements & allowed its roots to go deeper in search for the remaining requirements. So my plant had deeper & stronger roots to fight the adverse. You kept on feeding even when not required. Your plant did not ever had to search for food. The roots never needed to travel deeper. The strength of a plant lies in its roots. The roots of your plant remained superficial so got disconnected easily. You did not prepare your plant for the adversity.'
I hope it is clear to all that the debate is not about choosing between inclusive schooling & home schooling. Both are required.The home schooling is an inevitable part of parent's life regardless of the child being special or not. Home schooling need to be simultaneous happening & not the only happening in child's life. We need to follow the principles of the middle aged man. Nurture in a way that our role remains as a supporter & not entirely the doer. Let our children take the responsibilities of house-hold work according to age. Involve & include the child in every decisions we make. Help him to cope with the formal education in a way that the child understands better. Use their strengths to optimum & we are done with the root part.
Now comes the stem,branches,leaves & fruits.
I know parents are facing lots of problem for their children getting admission in regular schools. We humans have a tendency, either we fight or we flea. Most of the time we choose the second, the easier one. That gives us immediate relief but increases the future troubles to multi-fold. We want that our children should have all the rights. Right to education, right to be employed, right to have life time companionship etc. Each one of us is demanding that to happen from outside. Someone, somewhere will fight for our rights and then we all will be happy forever! Just like happy ending Bollywood films! That will never happen. If you don't want to be the in-charge of your needs & are not ready to fight for your rights, who else is going to do that for you?
It is very easy to leave aside all the struggles for getting admission in regular school & think about exclusive home schooling. But then, what about facing the outer world? Ultimately we need to prepare our children to be independent & lead an effective daily life. And that would not be possible without inclusion. We need to throw away the fear of rejection. We need to stop surrendering ourselves to the decisions taken by others for our children. No one is obliging us, we are just asking for our rights. In western world people are very much aware about their rights & they fight for it. This is their main plus point on us. We can always weigh the advantages over disadvantages when the child enters the higher standards. The criteria are different for each child.
I have seen parents very much obsessed about the reputed & big schools.
Why some particular school?
Why not the one that may be average but nearer to your house? Where you can easily talk to the teachers. Where you can easily get the feedback. Where you can explain your child's needs, limitations & strengths. In our town new schools are very much open to give admission to special need children. If tried genuinely & fearlessly you can definitely find one suitable for your child. You can design your child's schedule according to his school syllabus & can keep a back up plan ready. I would quote an example;
A mother of 9 year old came for personal session. She was happy with the school but was worried about the upcoming syllabus. After talking in detail we came to a conclusion that the mother would ask for a permission from school authorities to allow a separate box of ALM(Active Learning Material) with the child. The mother made the ALM, child started using that in school & at home. At present the problem has been solved.
We can always find a solution as & when required
Withdrawing without fighting is not allowed. Not trying in anticipation of rejection is not allowed. Waiting for someone else to fight for our children is not allowed. Thinking that 'Inclusion is a struggle & I can't take it any more' is not allowed.
Trust your inner power
To belong is a basic human right
Fight for your rights