Questioning 10th / 12th and college

Board certificate and college degree or gaining skills out of one’s own interest? All are good as long as we walk any of these paths from the standpoint of freedom and awareness not by following a mandated path.

Why many parents, who opted for open learning, unschooling or home-schooling for their children, are so caught up with the idea of 10th/12th certificate or a college degree? If we really wanted our children to score high in 10th/12th and go to a (so-called) good college then it would have made sense for our children to have followed the path of conventional schooling leading to a college. Since we have chosen to step out of the conventional schooling (road less travelled), then why bother about walking the same route again

Why not fully understand, explore and relish the route, of not just child-led learning but also child-led career and profession. Maybe, we are not looking for a high score, rather we want the child to have 10th/12th certificate as a back-up. it really a back-up? Just giving 10th/12th will neither give child job nor get him or her into a good college nor in any competitive exam. So what back-up purpose it serves? Rather there is a chance that once the child has given 10th/12th he or she may land up in some college ending up doing graduation in an area that he or she may not even like doing.

2. Most important in open learning – Is the time investment worth it? Preparation of 10/12th/college takes away from the child some 4-7years. This is huge. This time period the child could invest in acquiring desired skills in interested fields or in deepening one’s expertise. We reckon that the child can be more job valuable this way – by doing live work, rather than just getting a 10th/12th or graduation.

3. How can the child be clear or sure about the subjects the child chooses? In our experience, it is often quite early in life to zero onto ‘what to learn’. This is an age of exploration, not necessarily specialization. The danger is that most of us choose subjects/streams not because we know if we truly like them – rather we choose either because most of the world is doing it (eg: science), or because we think that will give good career (eg: MBA)

4.Once you go for this route as a backup, Willy-nilly for many, and sooner than later, it becomes the main agenda ( rather than the back-up). The child (and parents) could lose focus from his or her main interest and might start focusing on the studies

All the above are just points and it is not necessary that every child and parents will get into these traps. I am sure there are counter examples for each, but still, the points are quite valid.

Many of us also think that 10th/12th/college is the only reliable way to live a life, to make a living. While that is definitely one route, there is a huge scope via self-employment, freelancing, entrepreneurship, and also seeking jobs on the basis of your skills that you have developed via real work, not merely theoretical knowledge and degree

See this small video we made:

Every journey comes with its own challenges – be it the less travelled path of self directed learning or the beaten path of board exams and college degrees. One has to decide based on what will satiate their inner quest better.

Advantages of 10th/ and 12th

  • 10th and 12th are considered as base exams for couple of professional careers like – medicine, law, accountancy, academics, government jobs.
  • It may help to have such certificates as back up when one is not clear what they want to do nor they want to explore some other paths.
  • Psychological certainty of getting something out of these certificates helps to imagine a secured future of the child.

Disadvantages of 10th / 12th / college

  • Mostly children study the subjects for 10th / 12th / college not by choice but by compulsion. the goal is not to understand and enjoy the subject but to clear the exam and get a certificate or a degree. This makes the whole process very rigorous and boring.
  • Monotony of studying in the traditional manner results in boredom and boredom is the origination of distraction. Parents and children deal with Distraction by introducing extrinsic motivation. It becomes a vicious cycle for a student.
  • Exam preparation and unreasonable competition causes unproductive stress, anxiety and fear.

There are innumerable examples of people who have either not got any degree whatsoever or are doing job/work in fields totally unrelated to their degrees (we are one such example). Inviting you to think and deliberate more and if required involve us in your discussions.

To end, here is a small provocation by Jiddu Krishnamurti (from the book ‘What are you doing with your life?’)

What is the purpose of life?

The significance of life is living. Do we really live, is life worth living when there is fear, when our whole life is trained in imitation, in copying? In following authority, is there living? Are you living when you follow somebody, even if he is the greatest saint or the greatest politician or the greatest scholar?

If you observe your own ways, you will see that you do nothing but follow somebody or another. This process of following is what we call living, and then at the end of it you say, “What is the significance of life?”. To you, life has no significance now; the significance can come only when you put away all this authority. It is very difficult to put away authority.

What is freedom from authority? You can break a law. That is not the freedom from authority. But there is freedom in understanding the whole process, how the mind creates authority, how each one of us is confused and therefore wants to be assured that he is living the right kind of life. Because we want to be told what to do, we are exploited by gurus, spiritual as well as scientific. We do not know the significance of life as long as we are copying, imitating, following.

How can one know the significance of life when all that one is seeking is success? That is our life; we want success, we want to be completely secure inwardly and outwardly, we want somebody to tell us that we are doing right, that we are following the right path leading to salvation.

All our life is following a tradition, the tradition of yesterday or of thousands of years, and we make every experience into an authority to help us to achieve a result. So, we do not know the significance of life. All that we know is fear-fear of what somebody says, fear of dying, fear of not getting what we want, fear of committing wrong, fear of doing good. Our minds are so confused, caught in theory, that we cannot describe what significance life has to us.

Jiddu Krishnamurti

Choose what the child needs to work on. When the need to work on math, science, language, history comes from our own thinking there is no freedom. When the need to work on the same topics from the child’s own thinking, there is freedom. When the need to work on the challenge comes from the child’s own experiences – there is freedom.

A pertinent question in parent’s mind – So what do we do?

  • Shall we not create challenges for the children?
  • Shall we not push them to learn other topics (other than their own comfort zone)?

How about we do all the above, but with the focus on “thinking” rather than the topic itself or with the goal to teach them the topic. We can teach them the subject but we need to make them experience their own thinking. When the need comes from my own thinning there is freedom.