The acceptance of 17-year-old Malvika Joshi in Massachusetts Institite of Technology (MIT) - the leading science and technology institute in the United States, even though she did not clear Class 10 examination, has put the spotlight on the little known and practised concept of homeschooling.
The city teenager who was pulled out of her school four years ago by her parents has been homeschooled since she passed Class 7. She is now pursuing BSc at MIT.
But it was not admission into MIT but the happiness and “real learning” that Supriya Joshi, Malvika’s mother, had in mind when she persuaded her and her younger sister to drop out of school. “Whenever my daughters complained about things from school, I would ask them why they do not leave the school. They thought that I was threatening them, when in fact I was being serious,” Supriya said.
She has been working with a NGO that helps cancer students study outside of school. This gave her the idea of homeschooling her daughters.
For Supriya, homeschooling is all about allowing students to decide what they want to learn. While initially she tried replacing the school with a simulated home school complete with a uniform and a time table, it did not work out. Within a year, she developed a more flexible approach and allowed her daughters to learn whatever they wanted, be it photography or computer programming.
“I wanted the school model to fail. It does not match with the natural cycle of children” she said.
Soon enough, Malvika developed a liking for coding and started appearing for international olympiads. As a non-student she was not qualified for the exam but the organisers made an exception for her. According to her mother, Malvika’s prowess with coding was noted by many in olympiad circuit and she received many offers from colleges as well as IT companies. She finally applied at MIT and was selected.
According to Supriya, with their formal examinations and marking system, proper learning does not happen in schools anymore. “In schools everything depends on the students’ marks. I wanted my daughters to learn from life,” she said.