Thursday, 22 December 2011

Let’s “occupy” education in Ghana

I came across another interesting blog called “Motherlode” while reading the New York Times today. Of course I immediately read a few blogs. “Should we ‘occupy’ education?” caught my attention. I began thinking of all the ways we can “occupy” education in Ghana.
1. Refuse to send your children to any private or public school that is either too expensive and/or not able to help children compete on global level.
2. Let the rest of Ghana know of any school where you child has “graduated” from and yet cannot compete with his counterparts elsewhere.
3. Consider abuses against education as acts against humanity.
4. Trial all abusers as perpetrators of genocide; especially since most of the uneducated will probably become victims to violence and poverty.
5. Sue teachers. Similar to malpractice suites against doctors, the lethal tonic of a teacher takes a long time to uncover and heal.
6. Bring to justice all teachers and headmasters/headmistresses using students as their free labor pool. (Many use students as laborers on their farms as oppose to teaching them in classrooms).
7. Talk to other families in communities. Work to take back education.
8. Ban all school buildings without toilets for girls and boys.
9. Ban all “under tree” schools.
10. Refuse the idea that schools are “centers” of education.

Saturday, 17 December 2011

Change has come!

I was recently informed by my former professor of another alternative to traditional education. It is called the Unschooling Movement, similar to homeschooling, centers parents, but they are not married to textbooks, state curriculum and traditional ways of measuring a child’s development.
I am always eager to find alternatives because they are proof that a revolution is underway, and that I am part of it!
In today’s New York Times, I came across an exciting article on Co-op schooling. It’s basically parents, unable to find quality education for their children in the public sector, and unable to afford the private schools, come together to educate their children. Some of the classrooms are operated from people’s living rooms or other rooms in the house.
While some of the quality schools can cost $14,000/year, Co-op schooling cost some parents $1,200/year!
What do these alternative movements reveal? So much! First, the traditional educational system is not working. It is not providing quality education to the majority. Secondly, quality education has become (or has always been) reserve for the elite. Thirdly, parents are paying attention. People world over are demanding more, and instead of waiting, are designing creative alternatives for their children. They realize instead of constantly meeting to talk about how the “system” is failing us; that we should go ahead and do something about it for the sake of our children’s futures. La lutta!

Thursday, 1 December 2011

My Sun turns six years old today

I met a fantastic mom who refers to her male child as Sun. How great is that. Our children are the light that warms the world and keep us moving. I’m going to start using that from now on.
I had no idea that I would have ventured into home schooling when my Sun was born. Like many parents, I did not know which educational route I was going to undertake with my children. I knew I wanted the best, but not sure what my role was in obtaining that.
I started home school officially when he was about 2. We started quite simple. I provided him paper and many crayons for him to scribble and scribble some more. We then moved on to numbers, ABCs which he had learned earlier. Thanks to a Brainy Baby DVD, he learned shapes, colors, and many other things. We would watch an episode together and then read. He then started spelling words. My educator husband said that he showed letter word recognition and that this was a good sign, that he not only knew his letters, but recognized them in other words.
From then on, he started reading and writing letters. Hubby, or the education consultant, as I like to call him, began to contextualize what we were doing. I was horrified to find out that most children in Ghana are not taught to read at such an early age. I was also sad to learn that many schools did not have the trained teachers needed to provide the kind of learning needed at this age.
We were so proud of what we were accomplishing. But I need reassurance. I would call hubby at work with any and all questions. I wanted to make sure that I was actually teaching and that our Sun was learning. I called to let him know amazing things like when our Sun began adding and subtracting numbers on his own. I called for small things, wondering if the fact his arm was not on the desk when he wrote meant we needed another desk or that I had completely ruined his writing ability. Hubby is patient and kind. He explained everything as though he was speaking to a group of educators at UNICEF conference.
There was no topic too small for my hubby to research for us. I wanted to make sure that I was teaching him correctly and that I was linking topics that needed to be linked. For example, was it OK for me to teach nouns followed by verbs, or vice-a-versa. Did it even matter? Hubby said no. I continued more assured and confident. Then our Sun became a full fledge genius.
I am so proud of what I was able to provide for my Sun and other children. Hubby and I often analyze our success. We are so proud to have been able to do so much for him. That we have a 6 year old doing multiplication, writing short stories for publication “one day,” and designing trains with tenders made out of our curtain rails is surreal. I had never thought the path we followed would produce a genius.
And yet, all the experts, hubby included, claim that all children have the same capacity. The fact that most children are not at his level is a human rights issue. Teachers, administrators, policy makers, and parents are all guilty of this crime. I am glad we decided to educate him at home. His education will forever remind him of the love and sacrifice his parents made on his behalf.
I once heard that children should provide gifts to their parents on their birthdays. I agree. My Sun has already promise that I can borrow his bicycle anytime. That’s OK for now, but on his 20th birthday, I will have to be a Chinese mom and demand more. I look forward to receiving an all expense paid trip visiting the African continent, preaching the good word about home education.