Friday, June 7, 2013

Message for Teach For India 2011 Fellows

Greetings fellow 11ers, and congrats on your fellowship completion!
More than what numbers your kids achieved, I'd be more interested in what you learned from them. These results, numbers.. I've found they're unfair measurements that dehumanize them. My "worst" students were actually the best positioned to deal with the storms of life and make independent decisions. My greatest worries are for the top-scoring ones who've been conditioned into thinking they're better than others, that they must always obey authority, and that some arbitrary numbers prove their worth. They're all wonderful of course, but I regret the trap they're stuck in. I've met and lived with some unschooling families since then. Humungous differences in the kids - you'd think they're from another planet. (A kinder, more intelligent and knowledgeable, independently motivated, nonviolent planet)

I feel that TFI, in their training, did the equivalent of teaching world history without making a single mention of any non-violent freedom struggles, of any Gandhi or Luther or Mandela. The trainees of such a program would emerge from their training resolutely believing that the only way to win independence is through violent means. This assumption would go on to colour any kind of help they gave to oppressed people, and could end up harming those people instead.

There is a huge, global movement of people proving that scores-driven testing and exams-oriented, factory schooling is doing the opposite of educating people. In Pune itself there are unschooling families leading a national movement of homeschoolers / unschoolers. They don't have corporate funding so don't get published so much. We're organizing a self-sponsored event next week that's bringing together people like this from all over the country. Check out : and consider dropping by on the Sunday to meet them.

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