Written by Sloane Mak
June 24th saw Penang hosting KV and Wai Leng to give a talk on “Learning Beyond Schooling”. The dialogue started at 7pm with half a dozen people and more arrived over the hour. After attending the dialogue in KL last year, I felt there was a need for Family Place’s message to reach a wider audience, especially up north of the capital. KV and Wai Leng keep saying, “Give us an excuse to go, and we will!” – Apparently, the tourist attractions, the beaches and the hawker food in Penang were not good enough reasons – but offering to host the venue for the dialogue and the timely publication of Wai Leng’s book did it!
As discerning parents, we have discovered that there are no diplomas out there preparing for the actual experience of parenthood and educating our children. A lot of parents grapple with the fact that they have to send their children to school, despite the state the whole education system is in. Yet, parents don’t feel that there are other feasible, manageable and productive alternatives.
I would like to think of Wai Leng and KV as the spokespeople for the dozens of other homeschooling parents who have chosen the path less travelled and have already or started to reap the rewards of nurturing the sort of children schools are not very likely to help churn out. The dialogue in Penang was the first step in initiating a platform for parents to network and gain information and knowledge about this path less travelled. Parents shared their concerns, which echoes the concerns of thousands of others in Malaysia and millions around the world. Parents who came that night sought answers, or merely to start the journey of being informed on ‘an alternative schooling’ – there were questions about how to benchmark achievements and the development of children outside of school, curriculum, future prospects and socialisation of children outside of a school environment.
The journey towards homeschooling is a long one that begins with listening to our children, a message Wai Leng reiterates while quoting
the late John Holt. Parents were keenly interested when Wai Leng mentioned the work of Prof.Dr.Howard Gardner, who discovered the theory of Multiple Intellgences. In highlighting Howard Gardner, Wai Leng shares with parents that Prof. Gardner’s work acknowleges the natural intelligence in each person and an awareness of it can help parents nurture their child to discover what they are and what they can do to in order to lead a more fulfilling life.
The dialogue which lasted approximately 2 hours was adjourned with Amrita and Samantha presenting Marie Digby’s UMBRELLA to the thrilled parents. It is hoped that this and future dialogues and workshops would give more information and resources to parents who are seeking to also travel the path less trodden.