Why TLC

The Learning Centre is open to anyone looking for a non-formal learning space centred on a person’s sense of wonder, creativity and love of life. Even if you are homeschooling your child, there are things we can do as a collective that may be difficult to do on your own.

  

Inspired by Russell, Tagore, Gandhi, Freire, Krishnamurti and a host of other thinkers, we want to create an environment in which your child is free to ask fundamental questions, to develop respect for all life, and to “learn to read reality so that they can write their own history”. (Paulo Freire)

TLC provides a safe, cosy, friendly space for children explore their interests and play an active role in their own learning. Our centre provides a happy balance between experiential and academic learning, where your child can reflect on what we have learned both indoors and outdoors.

We have a vast network of resource people in unique fields who will come in to lead special sessions. Their interests range from carpentry to bicycle maintenance, mathematics and logic to caricature drawing.

We don’t want our children to grow up without basic concepts and skills, but neither do we want them to be alienated from each other and the natural world to which we all belong. 

We have intentionally moved away from accreditation with any examining board as we feel, examinations create unhealthy stress generated by comparison and competition for the highest marks.  Accreditation from an examining board may be required when your child is considering higher education and this we have factored into our TLC Plus programme.

We believe that education must not stress personal achievement at the cost of emotional connections, intuition and sensitivity. The unequal distribution of power in our societies excludes the values and interests of many groups and individuals. At TLC, we make every effort to be inclusive to the best of our understandings and resources. Your child and you will meet new people, engage with differences, and reflect on why and what she is learning.

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Why non-formal education

In every age, in every part of the world, people have found ways to teach children the things that mattered to them. From music to carpentry to farming, children have always lived and learned alongside their families and communities. Today, we see formal education as a given. We say that children have to go to school – but we forget that they didn’t always do so.

It is only in the past 200 years, or since the beginning of industrialised societies, that this age-old system of learning began to shift. Factories needed to be run, trade led to colonisation, financial operations became wider and more complex. As greater numbers of people began to move to industrial cities, the need for a standardised, pre-determined training for everyone began to take root. And so, formal education was born. Interestingly in some countries, a desire to protect children from exploitative working environments in factories meant that there had to be an alternative space in which their childhood could be protected and that they could grow to their fullest potential. And so, schools were born. And so were truancy laws and now compulsory education. In colonised countries (like India), education in schools focussed on training non-intellectual, obedient babus to serve the British Empire. In response, nationalist schools were determined to produce self reliant patriots in service of the new nation. Today, international schools concentrate on creating global citizens who often serve themselves.

There have always been powerful groups in society, and wherever power exists, it seeks to preserve itself. In many ways, formal education is an extension of that process. No matter what it promises, formal education only reinforces the status quo. It pits children against each other and provides rewards to reach certain goals which are defined in terms of ‘success’. Dancing, cycling and gardening are no longer central to our lives: they are hobbies or extra-curricular activities. The process of formal education belittles natural interests, creates new desires (such as Ivy League schools or lucrative jobs) and then creates a single-track path to fulfil those desires. In this way, formal education has become a business venture. In this system, children are not autonomous individuals; they are products for schools to churn out and fit into necessary niches in both industrial and post-industrial worlds, often with scant respect and love for the earth with its trees and animals which are regarded as natural resources.

Here are a handful of the many reasons you may choose not to send your child to a formal school:
  • Most formal education does little to inspire children. When most of us look back on our school days, we tend to remember the things we did outside the classroom – not inside it.

  • The school day is often long, wasteful, and constructed so that your child is constantly shifting gears from one mode of thinking to another. There is rarely free time for children to explore what they are interested in.

  • Grouping children age-wise is unnatural. From families to gurukuls to apprenticeships, learning – and living – has historically taken place vertically.

  • Learning in large groups of students is impractical, because students have different interests and capacities. Smaller groups allow for meaningful interactions.

  • The use of marks and examinations means that only a certain type of child can shine, and in a very singular way. The system negates all the intangible, un-measurable aspects of learning.

  • Because there is only one system, children try to subvert it in various ways: from cutting classes to copying homework; formal education teaches children to lie and manipulate.

 

In the last 20 years in India, people have been freeing their children from schools. If you are already on this journey, or would like to be a part of it, TLC could be the place for your child.

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