Mar 10, 2024

Perspectives on Homeschooling


Perspectives are a person's point of view that one has gathered based on their limited understanding of the world through their beliefs, perceptions, knowledge, and experiences. What works for one person MAY NOT work for another. Whenever you gather perspectives (be it from me or any person), take them as inputs but critically evaluate them for yourself.

Pre-requisites for homeschooling:

(1) Homeschooling a child is an important decision to be made by both the father and mother together. It is NOT a decision made by one spouse because of the perspectives that he/she received from Instagram influencers.

(2) It is a long-term decision (not for the next few weeks or the next few months, but for the next 12-14 years) which involves multiple changes and uncertainties.

(3) It is a decision being made on behalf of the child, who is not yet mature enough to understand the pros and cons of it.

(4) It requires one of the parents (typically, the mother) to take full responsibility for homeschooling. This would mean that she will either have to postpone or put aside her personal career goals/ambitions.

(5) It requires the family to be financially well-established for the present as well as the future so that the mother can completely dedicate her focus to the child(or children)'s homeschooling needs without the need to share the financial responsibilities of the family.

One can say things like "homeschooling stems from LOVE for oneself, mother nature, family, etc etc". 

LOVE is available in abundance for a child irrespective of the mode of school.

One can love and care for Mother Earth even if the child goes to a regular school and learns history/geography. 

Issues to think through:

(1) Having a clear understanding of WHY you believe that traditional schools are not the best option for your child. Not because 5 people whom you follow on Instagram say so, but do a deeper dive and understand why you want to make this decision and what factors push you towards this decision.

(2) Any family emergencies (elderly care, business loss, layoffs, health issues, etc) in the future can potentially affect the child's homeschooling schedules. Such scenarios cannot be ignored completely.

(3) If this decision needs to be reverted due to unforeseeable circumstances in the future, what's your backup option?

  • Regular schools will require one to keep a copy of the curriculum followed at home, worksheets done, and concepts learned by the child.
  • Certain schools MIGHT give your child a seat IF you have the financial muscle or power strings to pull.

(4) The school environment is not just about books, exams, and marks. It gives the child varied social and emotional experiences:

  • how to wait for your turn to speak
  • how to learn from other kids
  • how to ask questions
  • how to participate in group discussions
  • how to contribute to group projects
  • how to share your tiffin box
  • how to face disappointment when you get low marks
  • how to plan your studies well ahead to avoid last-minute stress
  • how to handle pressure during exams 

and so much more.

(5) One of the common reasons being given is that the child is being overloaded with too much information in the school curriculum. But through the alternative - pull him out of regular school and enroll him in 100 different classes/workshops - aren't we doing the same thing?

People who preach homeschooling and diss regular schooling => consider their backgrounds - family business, a large inheritance, passive income for just being on the board of Directors, and on top of that, conducting workshops and earning easy/quick money (Rs.600 per person. Let's say, 400 people join. Rs.2,40,000 per month for just spending 30 min. This is just one of the many workshops and recordings. Consider the various courses they offer and compute the total earnings! Not sure how the tax gets reported in such cases).

If for some reason, they had to secure a seat for their kids in regular school in the future, they can easily grab one with their financial power.

Is this a viable option for a middle-class family? Even if the family chooses a simple lifestyle, backup options and risk mitigation plans need to be discussed.

The child is NOT going to be in school 24*7 (unless he/she goes to a boarding school). If as parents, we would like them to imbibe certain values and learn certain skills (that are not part of the traditional school curriculum), we can dedicate time for the same in the evening hours, weekends, and the numerous holidays they get throughout the academic year. As parents, we are their role models and if we demonstrate these values and lead by example, their subconscious minds automatically pick them up.

If pressure towards marks and exams is your concern, I personally believe that it is the parents who put more pressure on the kids than the school or teachers. It is up to us as parents to avoid pressurizing the child to be the top-rank holders. If the child gets enough free space and time, he/she will explore their hobbies and interests at their own pace.

In summary,

Be very clear about WHY you are making this decision.

Evaluate the feasibility of a middle path that brings the best of both worlds.

Discuss with your spouse and plan for the LONG TERM - financial sustenance, risk mitigation, and plan for extended family responsibilities if you do go ahead with homeschooling as the right choice.

Mar 8, 2024

Four aspects to introspect on Women's Day

Women between 25-45 years old, this one is for you.

4 aspects to introspect, not just on this day, but any day.

(1) Self-Perception

How do we perceive ourselves? 

What is our self-concept - our idea about who we are?

How do we talk to ourselves? 

What is our level of acceptance of who we are currently?

What is the difference based on our perception between who we are and what we ought to be?

(2) Self-Expectations

As we grapple with multiple life challenges, and responsibilities, pursuing new ideas, opportunities, and initiatives, are we sometimes putting ourselves under too much pressure?

Are we being patient with ourselves? 

Are we giving ourselves enough time and space to pursue our goals and ambitions?

Are we ready to wait it out for the results that we want for ourselves, irrespective of the progress made by friends/peers?

(3) Critical Thinking

When we buy a new pair of shoes or a piece of jewelry, we take so much time to evaluate our options. We don't mind checking out 3-4 shops to pick what we like the most. We are very sure of what color, design, or material type we are looking for. We take time to try out different choices.

Why aren't we doing the same due diligence when it comes to seeking varied perspectives? 

Why do we jump onto a new fad if it surfaces in our social media feed?

Why do we accept new perspectives at face value? 

Is it because of fear, lack of confidence, or self-doubt?

Or do we believe that the idea of critical thinking is reserved only for men?

(4) Speaking up

When we are in a group, 

What stops us from being different? 

What stops us from raising our objections? 

Why aren't we asking more questions? 

Is it because of fear of public speaking or to avoid unnecessary attention?

Why do we tend to agree by default with what the larger group agrees with?

Why do we accept the viewpoint of the loudest in the room OR the person leading the discussion?

Why do we hesitate to "speak up" when we have an alternate point of view?

Is it due to the fear of not being accepted?

Is it due to the need to avoid confrontation?

Why do we put ourselves down, when we don't quite get the reason why everyone else in a group tends to agree on a certain view? 

Does your mind voice say - "If everyone else seems to resonate with this and I'm not getting it, then maybe there is something wrong with me only!" ?

Most of us don't pay much heed to these four aspects. If we trace back to the struggles, challenges, and mental distress we face - be it workplace, career, relationships, parenting, self-growth or social circle, we could trace the root to one or more of these four aspects.

Awareness is the key before action.

Facing pressures at the workplace? Introspect upon self-expectations or the lack of speaking up.

Facing confusion in parenting? Introspect upon self-perception or critical thinking

Facing stagnation in self-growth? Look at self-perception 

Mar 7, 2024

The childhood dream

 While working on my Anatomy assignment this afternoon, I just paused for a moment and looked at my desk. Books, papers, YouTube videos, and PDFs opened in multiple tabs as I was learning about the structure of muscle fibers and the function of muscle contraction. 

Anatomy & Physiology - the subjects I was hoping to study when I was 18 years old. It didn't happen at that time and is finally happening at the age of 42. 

Since 9th grade, I had set my eyes on doing MBBS. Studied really hard in my 12th grade, ran from one tuition center to another for the 4 core subjects, did so many revision tests (wish I could bring back the same rigor now!!), circumambulated the nearby temple almost every day, and said many prayers. The 12th board exam results came out very well but my marks slipped slightly in the entrance exam of Physics paper. 

I didn't get through the high cut-off that was set for the General category. If I didn't belong to the General category, I would have got through. I was devastated and cried so much. It was one of the huge disappointments, which took me almost a year to recover. 

I only wish in hindsight that I had the awareness that there are other forms of medicine (Ayurveda, Siddha) that I could have evaluated at that time. 

I took the next best option at that time - Computer Science Engineering. The first year of Engg went in silent mourning that I didn't get to pursue my dream. I wished for something magical to happen, that would fetch me a medical seat. Taking a break year and reappearing for the exams OR paying a huge capital fee to secure a seat in a private college were not viable options, given the financial situation at home. From the second year onwards, I started to work hard in Engg and put my best efforts, as I was way behind the students who had taken CS instead of Biology in their 11th/12th grades.

Though medicine wasn't meant to be as a career, learning about the human body has always been a keen interest. While researching nutrition in my early 30s, I learned about the gastrointestinal system in depth. In the past few years, I have become fascinated by the functioning of our brain and have been learning about the nervous system. Thanks to Yoga, I'm now understanding the musculoskeletal system in depth.

I just enjoy learning about the systems of the human body and the beautiful coordination and interconnectedness of the workings. 

As long as curiosity and interest are alive and kicking, one can learn any subject, irrespective of age.

I now have no regrets that I didn't get to pursue an MBBS. Supreme Divine has always the best plans for us if we give our sincere efforts.

Those of you who missed out on opportunities in your early years, don't worry. What is meant for you will come back to you - maybe, not in the same way as expected but way better. 

Mar 3, 2024

Two attitudes to adopt in Karma Yoga

 Until around a couple of years back, I had these nagging questions - 

Why is life unfair to certain people? 

Why are people with good intentions and those who work hard not getting the recognition they deserve?

Why are people who abide by ethics, moral values and social responsibility not getting the spotlight?

But after learning about the law of Karma, the emotions behind these questions subsided to a large extent.

I no longer get affected too much by people who "seem" to be winning through unethical or unfair practices.

I no longer get angry with people who fool the common man (or woman) with the glossy, attractive outer presentation and marketing but empty promises when it comes to the actual value being delivered.

I no longer feel triggered when people manipulate or play the corporate politics game to rise the ranks while pulling others down.

I now strongly believe in the concept of Karma and that we will pay a price for all our actions. This belief brings peace and stability to our daily interactions with the outside world. This way of thinking helps to reduce the external influence on our emotions to a considerable extent.

The next stage was to understand how one goes about their duties and responsibilities without getting impacted by the outcomes (or the struggle towards it). 

In times of social media, many of us might put in a lot of effort to convey our thoughts using articles/reels/videos but might not get the reach and engagement we expect. 

At the workplace, we might want to make a meaningful impact through our work but the ideas might get shot down due to various reasons (ego, politics, lack of business potential, priorities, lack of resources, etc).

At our homes, we might put in a lot of effort towards taking care of everyone's needs but we may not get the required appreciation or words of gratitude.

While pursuing an introductory course on Vedanta, I learned about two attitudes that one adopts in the context of Karma Yoga. 

(1) Ishvararprana bhava - every action we do becomes an offering to the Supreme Divine. With this attitude, our actions become more mindful and attentive. We take care of every little detail and not rush to wrap things up. We pursue the action with so much love and care and dedicate the result to the Divine.

(2) Ishvaraprasada bhava - the fruit of every action is considered sacred and received with contentment and without criticism. The fruit we receive may not be what we expect, but we receive it with a sense of gratitude. We also acknowledge that the Supreme has better plans for the future if something doesn't go as planned.

It is hard to explain in words how much of a perspective shift these two attitudes have brought in for me ever since I started practicing them. I'm sure it will take years of conscious practice to make these attitudes the default ones in any work that we do. But the first step is to get started with these attitudes in simple tasks - cooking, organizing a cupboard, writing an article, learning a new topic, preparing a work presentation, etc.

Immerse yourself fully in the task and dedicate the end output to the Supreme. Whatever be the fruit of the action, receive it with gratitude.

Feb 28, 2024

Polarized Views

 There is a tug-of-war happening big time on social media and all mass media platforms. This war is called "polarized views". If you aren't strong enough, any side can easily pull you and convince you to accept and follow their polarized viewpoints.

I see this happening virtually in all aspects of life. A few examples from the domains I keep track of:

Vegan OR Keto

Naturopathy OR modern medicine

V@ccine OR No V@ccine

Homeschooling OR International School + All possible extracurricular classes

Home-made foods from scratch OR Eat packaged foods

Traditional OR Modern Values

No Fridge OR Frozen meals for months

No Screen time for kids OR Full-on screen mode filled with educational apps and games

Completely organic food OR food from a factory/large-scale manufacturing unit

Is it because we spend too much time with devices and gadgets that there is now an alarming trend of viewing the world in binaries? Computers can understand only 1s and 0s, whereas we humans are smarter than that, aren't we? We can decipher the grey shades in between. 

We are blessed with Viveka, the discriminatory ability to analyze the options in front of us. In Kali Yuga, the good and bad are so strongly intertwined into one that it is hard to decipher the real nature.

Instead of viewing the world in binaries, let's look at it as a range or a spectrum.

Every option on either side has pros and cons. It also heavily depends on one's situation, environment, family beliefs, and availability of resources (time, money, effort, energy). 

Please note, that the fear and guilt of having chosen one side (in the past) OR the anxiety of choosing a side (without comprehending the repercussions in the future) creates more mental agony and distress than the actual choice itself.

Let's understand both ends of the spectrum and choose a point on it that works for us (as an individual and as a family). Accept the choice and trust in the Universe that things will work out well.

The unnecessary fear, panic, or lackadaisical attitude that are being perpetuated by these extreme influencers on both sides will only end up adding to the mental health-related issues that are already on the rise. These also contribute to relationship issues because of conflicting ideas within the family.

Blog Archive

All contents copyrighted by Anuradha Sridharan, 2023. Don't copy without giving credits. Powered by Blogger.