Homeschooling Part 1: The Fish and the Tree

After centuries of wandering inside the box, we’ve forgotten to test waters outside of it. Over the years, the conventional classroom has proved to become one of these boxes that confine us.

We witness today’s modern world with high-end technological advances producing lazy, carefree, and passion-less teens who are oblivious to their purpose in life,whereas years ago, it was presumed to turn out to be the opposite. But why?

Why is it that though information is available at a single touch of a screen, our generation is facing an ever-deteriorating drive for knowledge?

Why is it that even with an array of professional fields and branches of science, our youth find it hard to choose any one in particular; whereas the young adults find it hard to become satisfied with their existing careers? Why have they run out of motivation?

One of the major reasons for so many of these “why’s” is the prevalent system of schooling. The restrictions of creativity within these institutions have a foundation somewhat rooted within conformity of the masses, and this culture of merely ‘manufacturing school graduates’ also has huge religious-political motives to it.

Another basis for the foundation of this widespread meaninglessness is the lack of attention/interaction that children get from their parents and how parents leave their children in the claws of environmental conditioning. It’s truly sad to witness how kids and teens are left to filter what comes through to their minds on their own.

Moving forward, let’s try and frame our minds to become a solution-oriented society, and ask the bigger questions. How do we bring the youth back on track? How do we rejuvenate their ideas and ideals? How can we bring back their sense of purpose, morality and accountability? Henceforth, we discuss one of the answers: Homeschooling.

Before we go into detail, let’s first categorize the different aspects of homeschooling to make it more approachable: Inter personal, Social, Economic, Spiritual and Physical. Here, we will relate the first aspect: Inter personal development.

In Psychology, we more than often come across the concept of how each of our traits and habits can be, one way or the other, traced back to our childhood experiences. This is more than enough reason to firmly grip the idea of how childhood is the most important stage in the developmental cycle of a child, and analyze how it is taken so lightly in our society. We rather prefer ‘behavioral learning’ (learning from experience) an easy way to instill values in our children, as the common phrase goes, “Jab bara hoga toh khud hi samajh jaye ga.” (When he grows up, he’ll understand it himself.”)

We realize, through research, that the self-learning has a completely different take on it. It is quite dangerous especially in the modern world where our perceptions have become so skewed and people tend go with the flow of the majority, like dead fish. Experimentation and close scrutiny reveals that the basic sense of right and wrong, the nourishment of the conscience, and the upbringing of a sound and stable mind needs to be focused on in the early years, and requires efforts from both major figures of authority present in the life of the child: the Mother and the Father.

With homeschooling, the parent to child connection and duration of interaction makes way for a greater probability of a strong and responsible moral character for the child. Educational psychologists often emphasize on how the school schedules are ruining the balance of the emotional and psychological attention required by the children and more possibly also draining the time they could be investing in other more interest centered activities which help support mental wellbeing.

They relate that (assuming children perform better in subjects they are interested in) “It has long been acknowledged that a variety of psychosocial and health problems affect learning and performance in profound ways. Such problems are exacerbated as youngsters internalize the debilitating effects of performing poorly at school and are punished for the misbehavior that is a common correlate of school failure.”

(School Mental Health Project, UCLA, Center for Mental Health in Schools)

We observe how the core (compulsory) subjects are gnawing away majority of the time and energy the child could put into particular subjects that spark their interest. This obviously does not aim to underestimate the need for having general knowledge about the basic subject lists. This is only to make us realize how schools are draining the ‘singularity’ of focus for an exceedingly long period of time, even after the child handpicks a particular field to study in. It’s more like trying to balance more than one ships at a time.

With this we come to the explanation of the title of this article, which is inspired by a quote of the famous scientist Albert Einstein who said,

“Everybody is a genius; but if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid.”

 Is this not true of today’s society? We judge future artists by their calculus grades, counsellors to be by their knowledge of science, and spiritual leaders in the making by their ability to describe quantum physics. We need to embed this idea in our minds that the fish may climb the tree, but it’s satisfaction will still float in water. The fish was created for that purpose, equipped with the essentials, just like every individual amongst us is.

Thus, bringing both the concepts together, we can conclude that it is our responsibility to invest our time, efforts, and energy into our children to help bring forward exemplary characters and personalities, who have the direction and guidance to fully discover their potentials and goals, and there is no one who could do it better than ourselves; for formal education stands on a considerably non-firm platform without ‘Tarbiyah’- “development of character and morality”.

Jazakumullahu Khayr – May Allah reward you for the time and effort of reading this post.

By: Ayesha Majid

3 thoughts on “Homeschooling Part 1: The Fish and the Tree

  • Assalamo Alikum. Me being an electrical engineering Graduate feels like my 16 years of education has been a total waste when My career as a professional is security analyst and I achieved that by self learning from youtube and doing certifications. and I believe in an educational system higher than the schooling. the thing is I am not against knowledge I am against brain washig that is done in the schools like what good does it do to me if i only gonna know that shah wali ullah was born in 1703 and his greatest work ever is hajjatul baligah . if i only gonna know his dob and his book title its not gonna make me any good human nor does it helps me in earning. if I only gonna know Allama iqbal wrote a book bange dara for kids but never gonna be taught what it was all about I am being brain washed in the school. I believe in home scholing but question is by going to school I made some friends that helped me in life those friends are far better than my teachers at school. so the thing is if I to give my future kids homeschooling education how they gonna make friends with people other than me?
    and I get your point in the last paragraph but this is the issue in the modern world that we think religion has nothing to do with science and if Some one has to become a religious scholar science is not required to them. wrong. and that is already being done in madrasas. and we dont want it either.we want a balance world of both science and religion.

  • Assalam O Alikum wa rehmat ullahe wa barakatuhu Brother!

    First of all, it delights me that you’ve shared your thoughts and concerns on this!

    Also, I want to apologise for this late reply, since there were some technical issues on the website and I could not view your comment.

    Now coming to the points that you’ve raised, yes, indeed our schooling systems have made education all about learning facts whereas these extremely inspirational and pious people that you’ve mentioned have led very practical lives themselves, and focused more on concepts over rote learning/ ratta systems. Specially in Pakistan, only a handful of students actually develop analytical skills to weigh and measure the facts that they’re exposed to; others are conditioned to take it as it is.

    Although with homeschooling, the case is different. It allows the parent to create their own environment for the child, customized according to what they want them to learn and prioritize. These very concepts and writings, from Iqbal (rahimaullah) and shah wali ullah (rahimaullah), could benefit loads if approached analytically, dissecting it properly to know it’s true meanings. Ofcourse it’s not necessary that the child is made to remember all of their work, just putting their focus on implementing it and embracing it’s truth. This is the whole point of homeshooling, taking out the uneccassary, and framing the necassary concepts.

    Next, you’ve raised the concern regarding the social aspect of a ‘friends circle’. Part 2 of this series which will be posted soon in shaa Allah will discuss this aspect in detail, but to answer your question:

    1) Homeschooling is generally given till the point when a child has developed his own set of morals derived from upbringing or religion, so as to face the world with their own beliefs and not to just follow anything that might come their way. Their thinking skills, problem solving, and purpose is usually strong and clear by this time. So normally homeschooled children start attending institutes when they reach college or university level. It really depends on the choices of both parent and child. In short, I mean to say that they do get the college/ university experience, to taste practicality and skills to face the real world.

    2) Homeshooling does not mean that the child be made to stay at home. Contrary to that, in the US, parents actually make a lot of effort to give their children active experiences. For example, when learning about animals, they take them to zoos, museums for history, and lots of other trips! There they are made to interact with people of different ages/backgrounds since the parents plan activities like distributng goodies to random people, interviews with random people, and make the child carry a journal to note all different stories. The child may eventually also meet age fellows, who could later be friends. Homeschooled children actual have a higher probability to carry themselves in a more genuine and mannered way than others, because they have been chaperoned by their parents in their interactions, and all negative habits that might be learned from the interactions are blocked out.

    Then, there are neighbourhood friends, and other children receiving homeshooling. Gatherings can be planned, and tea party style events, or trips with the group, all these make the child develop confidence and tolerance.

    Also, since we are taking religion to be a major chunk of this, there are also weekly Quran classes, Seerah lessons, and stories of the prophets etc, for children in different areas, it depends on where you reside.

    All of this and more will be discussed in detail in shaa Allah.

    To conclude, this decision of homeshooling our children requires a very well thought out plan, and needs a lot of attention, consideration and research. Parents need to invest a lot of time in their children’s lives, so that they may real 100% benefits from being homeshooled.

    Hope this helped, JazakAllah khayr!

  • some queries if kids are homeschooled for first few years can they mainstream education or are they accepted in any good school, how is it decided to which grade or class he has to be admitted in and who decides it? as in conventional system after passing exams of 1 you are promoted to 2 then from 2 to 3 and so on how does the transition take place if kid is homeschooled? what challenges are to be faced in beginning and how will I measure its effectiveness in my case so as if ineffective or failed I should immediately get him to school if he is lagging behind but how will i know about it. last question for how many years of a kid is this a suitable option and after that we should definitely transfer him to proper school pls guide.

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