When our kids were little, I dreamed of starting a school for them, after reading books on alternative education and rethinking schooling and rethinking the future! I learn that learning ought to be liberalized and personalized for the happiness of the learner. They inspired me to take my children’s educational path into my own hands so that we could have more room for freedom and creativity for learning opportunities as a family. I even wrote a piece called “My Dream School” to illustrate what I envisioned as the perfect school for my children. But I gradually realized that starting a school and running one was not really what I wanted. Because that would only have trapped us into another box with another name but essentially we’d still be doing school.
Going beyond schooling
I had wanted to transcend the whole concept of schooling so that our children can transcend the limitations that come with it. Homeschooling or unschooling are antithesis of schooling and they appeal to me enormously. But doing it alone can be lonely. And 10 years ago, homeschooling was a novelty and finding like-minded families was a challenge. So we formed play groups. Parents took turns to organize activities at our respective homes. It was perfect fun! And our girls had other kids to play with. But, we had to stop when the other kids reached school-going age (so sad) and one by one they went off to school, and we were back to Square One.
So we formed another group – a homeschoolers’ play group. It was also quite fun with various programs that the kids joined like the Zoo program, aerospace program and a critical & creative thinking program, to name just a few. However this too, did not last. The problem was, somehow, most of the kids here were older than my kids. In time they went into college-preparation mode and then off to college they went. My girls weren’t keen on the college route and wanted to further develop their music and dancing interests. Which they did – Amrita is pursuing a music career as a singer-songwriter and recording artiste (www.amritasoon.com). Sam is training hard to be an amazing dancer and guitarist (read her story in Sir Ken Robinson’s book “Finding Your Element“).
How CLiC was born
When my youngest, 10-year-old Arian, was about 5 I started yet another play group (for him) and that eventually evolved into our present CLiC – community learning initiative center, which our girls were very much a part of in the initial 2 years. At first we had weekly meet-ups at our house for activities. Then when an opportunity revealed itself to us, we took it and moved the meet-ups to a shop lot in Kota Kemuning. It was tough work for me then, as I had to practically handle everything from getting the place ready for classes to conducting classes myself, plus preparing meals and cleaning up, and talking to parents who came to enquire about the center. Without the help of my kids and some committed parents there, it would not have lasted as long as it did for almost 2 years. But in the end, we had to move out from the rented shop-lot for reasons beyond our control. It gave us the opportunity to decide whether to move into another shop-lot space or rent a house. I had always felt that being homeschoolers, having our activities at a homely residence would have been more ideal. So we decided to look for one………….but where?
(To be continued)