Why a parent rejected the schooling system, exams and degrees
I, was one of those children who got a stomach ache before going to school, every morning. I was also one of those children who used to get suddenly anxious before an exam. And I just don't know how I managed to pass them. I went to over twelve of the best institutions all over the country. And, till date, I ask myself, what those 15 years of education, actually helped me in?
Did they help me to live a good and a meaningful life? Did they make me a creative human being? The same thing happened when I went to college. I walked out of college, actually I didn't finish my college. And when I was out of the college, I asked myself this question. And I realised, that the college had just made me an urban parasite.
And I was actually clueless of the three basics of life, which are, "Roti, kapda and makaan." (Food, clothing and shelter). And totally ignorant of my highly consumeristic wasteful lifestyle. After that I decided, not to waste time getting degrees and I started to travel and spend time learning with children. That's when I realised that my real learning and exploration had begun. I would like to share how I think, schools kill creativity.
I was doing a workshop with kids in Udaipur. And, I came across about thirty children I was doing this workshop with. It was a painting and art workshop. And, out of that thirty, those thirty children, twenty six children went to school. And there were four children, from the local 'kachi bastis'(slums), who never had gone to school. When the workshop ended, it was very sad. I was very sad to actually see what had happened.
Twenty-six of the thirty kids who had gone to school, drew exactly the same, 'ped, pahad, nadi' (tree, mountain, river). This was the creativity of school going children. The four other children who had never gone to school drew amazing things, straight out of their neighbourhood. An auto-wala. What goes on in their kitchen? And, I suddenly realised that, we were actually killing the creativity of all these children at the age of five.
Leave aside, no space to make mistakes. You make a mistake, you get punished. You get punished, you get labelled. And, those dehumanizing labels stay with you, life-long. Believe me. We carry them and start accepting them. So, for me, I realised, that this education system was actually doing much more harm than good to the planet.
That led me to a further exploration. And I started understanding, I said let's find out what's going on in education in other parts of the world. And, it was the same story. Believe me, it was the same story. Today's global system of education which I also call 'Factory Schooling', is creating, millions of unemployed, visionless, wisdomless, youth.
It's been about seventeen years, eighteen years, both me and my husband decided that we would unschool our family. And, we live in Udaipur and, I have a fourteen year old daughter, Pankhu. She has never been to school. We've never sent her to school. And we've been trying to grow and learn with her. We believe, that actually, we are learning much more beautifully, and growing as better human beings, when our children are with us. My daughter, learns freely, spends a lot of time with people of different age groups. Chooses who she wants to learn with. And is a much more creative person when she is in nature.
So, we created a space and a counter movement. We gathered the courage to create a counter movement. We call it "Sikshant". And, it's a space, for people who don't want to go to school and college, who don't want degrees, and, people who want to create thier own path of learning. So, we call it "Sikshantra", -- a centre for unschoolers, home schoolers, people, walk-outs, walk-outs, people who walk out of school and college, or people who also want to take a gap year. We think that's also very important. You take a gap year, you learn a lot more than you learn in twelve years of school or college. And, it's been a beautiful journey so far. We've worked with people of all ages. We encourage people of all ages to come and learn with us and create something beautiful.
5:09Let me share, some of my heroes with you. I'll start with these two, Kudrat and Ajanmya. Kudrat is now sixteen. He's a great filmmaker, an animator, a healer. He does a lot of stuff with natural materials. He's a great chef. And, one of the most sensitive and independent kids I have come across in my life. Ajanmya, is now twelve. And, he is a great theatre person, sports person, and also, does a lot of stuff with animals. Both these kids, never went to school. Their parents, decided that they did not want to send them [to] school, because they believe that learning, is a life long process and, you cannot limit it only to getting jobs, degrees, exams.
6:06It's a much, much larger project, which we all have to take into our own hands as parents. This is Kudrat and Ajanmya, at the ages that I told you that they are, have also started their own YouTube channel. It's called 'Ahabandhu'. Please visit it if you guys get a chance. And, on this channel, you will see more than 50 films that they have both made in the past two years. These are films that thought about,everything that revolves around their life. And, I think that if children can get that confidence to those kinds of things, we need to let our children be a little more freer, in doing what they want to do.
6:50Meet Sunny and Manoj. These are two boys, from one of our 'kacchi bastis' in Udaipur. And they both walked out of school in class 10. They had a dream to become chefs. And they, prior, and now they are, the founders of one of the most healthy and organic cafes, of Udaipur called, 'Millets of Mewar'. Just recently, they were published, their names and they were published as leading chefs of India.
7:25I'd like to share another very interesting experiment. It's called Swaraj University, and it's also based out of Udaipur. It's India's first self designed university. I don't know if you have heard of that term. But, it's a two year program. And, the people who join it are called 'khojis'. And, the two years, are in their hands. They design the two years of their life. Actually, Swaraj University was started with this belief that, true democracy happens when we can choose our own gurus and teachers, not only our leaders. We can choose our teachers. We are being able to appreciate the wealth that exists around us.
8:07So, Swaraj University was started with that belief, and in Swaraj University, we do not ask for a degree and we do not give a degree. We do not believe in that piece of paper, actually means nothing today. Actually, if you ask me today, I feel that degrees and diplomas, are, actually, the biggest disease and threat to human dignity and the human soul. We can do much better without those things.
8:35So, I would like to invite everyone to think about their lives. I mean, I'm sure we all have a lot of people with a lot of degrees, But, close your eyes and think of your life, without those also, Try to imagine what you would be doing if you were not following or running after those things. So, I'd just like to end by saying, that, I think that, we do not need schools and colleges for jobs.
9:04We do not need schools and colleges. Oh! And, one more thing, that's a question that may arise, but I would, I was just going to say that, that a lot of you will ask me actually, "If people don't go to school and college, how do you evaluate their knowledge? How will you know, how much they have learnt?"
9:22So, we, actually help. We did a campaign six years ago. It's called, 'Healing ourselves from the Diploma Disease'. It's a worldwide campaign we did in which, we actually created a directory of more than 500 organisations who said that, we will give employment to passionate creative youth. We do not care if they have don't have degrees or diplomas. They should have a will to learn and create, amazing communities because, schools are actually not creating job creators. They are only creating job beggars.
10:00So, we want to create a class of people, who want to create employment for more people. So, I'd just like to end, by saying that, schools, actually, we don't need schools and degrees,for jobs. We do not need schools and degrees for universities. We do not need schools and universities for marriage. And, we do not need schools and universities and degrees, for real learning.
Why a parent rejected the schooling system, exams and degrees
Vidhi Jain does not send her daughter to school, or force her into the rat race of exams and degrees. Disillusioned by the ‘factory schooling’ system, she became an educationist and created a radical alternative. Her students are given the room to make choices and the freedom to be creative. She shares the results this has achieved. shikshantar.org