Wednesday, October 20, 2010




It began with a simple wish to give an extended childhood to their children. Meet Ruchi and Tapeshwar Kumar Kaushik who decided to break the mould and start home schooling their children, Saras and Sahal. Last month,14-year-old Sahal Kaushik, gave all his parents' critics a fitting reply by becoming the youngest ever Delhi region topper in the IIT JEE exams and also bagging 33rd rank in the country!
Vishesh Prakash

It all started with a fairly innocuous conversation on their honeymoon, when they were talking about the kind of life they wanted to give their children. And, both Ruchi and Tapeshwar Kumar Kaushik, decided that one thing they wanted for their kids was an extended childhood! When it was actually time to send their children to school, they decided against it, choosing to go in for home schooling instead. Now, in a country like ours, that was akin to challenging the whole social structure. 'How can a child not go to school; 'What will she/he do at home the whole day'; 'How will she learn to interact with the kids' etc They heard no end of these questions from their friends and family. But they stuck to their beliefs and continued with what they believed in. For years they heard all kind of comments and questions thrown at them about how they had robbed their children of their childhood and how they were 'cruel' parents Last month, their 14-year-old son Sahal silenced all his parents' critics by becoming the youngest ever Delhi topper of the tough IIT-JEE. Not just that, he bagged the 33rd rank in the country!
Now, what caught the nation's fancy was that Sahal had defied the conventional logic by not attending school (in any form) pretty much till 2006,when he enrolled with a relatively unknown Sangwan Model School, Rohini,to enable him to sit for his 10th standard boards. Then in 2008, he enrolled with Vandana International School, Dwarka, which helped him take his 12 board exams. At the same time he was enrolled at the Narayana Institute to prepare for his IIT-JEE exams. Then, last month he became the toast of the whole nation! Now, that was as big an innovation as it could be in the field of education! Is it possible for a child to study at home and still come out on top in the education 'system' Throw these questions at 49-year-old Col Tapeshwar Kumar Kaushik, who is presently posted in Assam, and he says, "I have always been a firm believer in the doctrine that anything can be learnt at any time. All you need is the right environment and an interest in the subject."Adds, 45-year-old Dr Ruchi Kaushik,who gave up practicing medicine around a decade ago to enable her to home school her two children, "If you decide to do home schooling, then one parent has to be a home maker. You have to give them full time."
Not just Sahal, his 12-year-old sister Saras too doesn't go to school and is presently being home schooled by her mother. Ask the mother about the methodology she adopts while teaching her children, she says, "I don't really follow a structure or a curriculum. If you want to do that, you might as well send them to school. We basically go by what we want to read about. Sometimes we might study history for days on end, and at other times just decide to read a novel till we finish it. I don't try and impose on my children as to what they should study. The whole idea is to give them the freedom to choose what they want to study. "And, if that ends up with the child performing a rare feat as Sahal's, well, no one's complaining!
Does the achievement of Kaushiks mean that the schooling system is actually an overrated phenomenon? The Kaushiks themselves are quick to deny it. Says Col Kaushik, "No, we don't want to run down the institution of schools. They are a very important part of education systems, especially in a country like ours where the number of students is so huge. "They go on to add that they would just like parents to consider that there is an alternative way of educating your kids. Says Ruchi, "It's a lot of hard work, but very rewarding too. We feel that this is an appropriate way for a child to learn, without having to face pressure of any kind. "Well, that's certainly worth thinking about!

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