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freedom in education

I am very uncomfortable with the term home schooling. I think, what we have been trying to do is to avoid any kind of ‘schooling’ for our children because ‘schooling’ sounds like ‘caging’ the free spirits. In fact this thought was the initiation of our efforts to find alternatives to help our child grow into a normal human being. Basically what we realized is that give the child what you would like to receive from him/her. 

John holt said in one of his books some thing to the effect of ‘One does not have to make the child smart. All one has to do is stop doing things that make the child feel small.’

At another point he said, ‘Freedom is never complete unless you give the child the freedom to say no.’ ( I am sorry if the quotes are not exact. These lines are always there with me and I am writing from my memory.)

I have found that what really nurtures our relationship with our children, or with anybody for that matter, is unconditional acceptance of the other persons position, total respect and freedom. Freedom to make decisions or not to make decisions and learning from ones own experiences the consequences of ones actions. All we need to do is be there for the child in empathy without making any judgement. 

This can be achieved only by giving the child full freedom. And this is a scary thing to say because everyone will interpret this according to ones own standards of freedom. Freedom does not mean a license to do anything. Intervention is required. But if the intervention is minimized to the extent possible, it shows its results. I have two markers to determine how much freedom to give: are they doing something that is detrimental to their safety and are they stepping on someone else’s physical or emotional space? Only in these situations would I intervene. Another thing that I always consider before responding to them when they want to do something is what are my reasons for saying no or yes? Whether it is based on my convenience or it is based on the merit of the situation. As long as my decisions are based on the merit of the situation, I don’t have to worry.

The next thing is how do we communicate with the child? As long as we consider him/her as equal human being and communicate on the basis of mutual respect and mutual understanding, as we would with another individual, without imposing our view point, and without making them feel lesser than us, the adults, all falls in place. The problem begins when we think we can distract and lure the child to do whatever we think is good for him. This is where the disrespect for the child’s intelligence begins. And then it spreads into different directions.

When the child grows in an atmosphere of understanding and respect, the child grows with full understanding of the situation and people including himself. So I would like to ask here, what behaviour of the child will make you feel that he/she is spoilt. In certain cases, we might have to examine our expectations from the child. In certain other situations, we might have to look at why these behaviours are manifested in the child and try to eliminate the root cause or convey to the child that we understand what is distressing him/her. Most of the times, the behavioural problems are an outcry to be heard. Once the root cause is taken care of, the child will not feel any need to behave in that manner.


by Vineeta