21yr-old Asawari – an unschooler, leading her life without any board exams and without any college education.
As a little girl going to school and playing was what my life revolved around. I went to school because that’s what children do. I enjoyed school because I was a good student. I was very good at studies, very disciplined, well dressed, punctual and I did not trouble the teachers or ask questions in class. I was good at studies not because I understood the subjects but because I mastered the art of memorizing and photocopying the answers in the test. I was well dressed because of my mother, I was punctual because of my father and if I was not curious or naughty I had lost the child in me.
Realizing this my parents decided to pull me out of school in the middle of my fifth grade. At the age of 10yrs a lot of this did not make sense to me. All I understood was that homeschooling was going to be fun and enjoyable and that’s what made me agree to leave school. The only thing at that time I regretted was losing my school friends.
6 months of homeschooling was super fun for me. Subjects became not about memorizing but understanding. What I really liked was the application of what I learnt. I learn about ships and made a model of it, I learnt to write Hindi and posted letters to my relatives and we travelled a lot as a family which was fun for me. For the first time maths became fun for me, the school had made me dislike it but when I did it with my father I was able to like it.
Self-directed learning for me happened in stages, After I left school I still used textbooks as a curriculum but my parents came in with activities to make it more fun and gave me a wider exposure. As things flowed from homeschooling to Aarohi and then moving from Bangalore to the village, my learning left the textbooks. I started doing what interested me. I started using other mediums to learn like videos, people and books apart from textbooks.
When I got into the groove of self-directed learning I began taking projects. I took the project of constructing the community kitchen at the Aarohi campus. It was a project of lots of failures and learnings. I began doing once a week volunteering in space for differently-abled children.
I choose to not do my 10th exam. At the age of 14, I did not know what I want to do for a profession. I did not want to waste my time studying for an exam I thought to be useless. I wanted to rather explore and learn through experience. What really helped me in taking the decision of not doing my 10th exam was the support and acceptance of my parents.
My next stage was to go outside the home to learn, to travel, meet people, gain more perspectives, explore my interests deeper, do internships and create a community of friends to enrich my life. I found this opportunity at Swaraj University – an alternative university in Udaipur. The two-year course at Swaraj gave me the opportunity to become independent, to explore and find my own values, to deepen my skills and identify my passion. I got the opportunity to learn about many different things. I did internships and got a flavour of the real world.
Listen to Asawari to explore life without degrees.