Self Directed Learning Foundation

-- Learning is Intrinsic, Education is Forced --

Learning is Intrinsic, Education is Forced. The entire journey of a human being, right from its birth to death, is a learning process. Its natural, just like thrust and hunger. Before going to school, a child learns to speak and perform various activities. A human mind is always ever hungry for learning, but the same mind revolts when we force it through a process called education.

Education means Degree: A myth, which is a root cause of all problems. Education is eventually learning of particular set of skills required in specific area. However, instead of imparting skills, our educational system is busy in bombarding "information". Childrens who have better memory management skills, thus excel in this system, however, necessary skills usually remains undeveloped. With relevant experience, these skills get developed. However, not everybody gets suitable employment opportunity, and hence what remains is just a piece of paper, with degree printed on it.

Today, we thus have a huge mass of educated degree holders, who neither have employment nor confidence to start their own ventures, because they just have a degree with huge information, instead of necessary skills required in that area. Interestingly, all this information is either freely available on internet or at negligible price in the market. The entire information accumulated in any degree can be accommodated in a single pen drive, costing less than Rs. 500/-. Our educational system has totally ignored this fact that, we need educational institutions to impart skills to students. We absolutely don't require them to congest students with irrelevant, obsolete, and over burdened information.

Think over these facts

You must have already observed in the case study that, without going to regular school also, your children can get a 10th standard certificate, which is 100% valid for pursuing higher education throughout India. So if parents are unsatisfied with current education system in India, there is no need to spend their valuable time, money, and energy on their childrens 10 years of schooling.

All public boards provide 10th standard certificate, on the basis of childs performance in 10th standard only (and not on the basis of childs performance from 1st to 9th standard). School's name is not even mentioned in their 10th standard mark sheet. Its no more a hidden fact that, nowadays, success of candidates in their 10th standard is mainly due to their hard work and the individual attention paid by their parents and/or coaching classes.

Most of the curriculum aspects taught in school is hardly needed in our daily life. In fact, the most needed aspects in our daily life, gets lost due to other irrelevant and overburdened curriculum. For e.g., a school dropout shopkeeper/vegetable vendor can orally calculate the cost of purchases, whereas, our modern graduates may not be able to do it without the help of calculator. Schools cannot pay individual attention to your children (you cannot blame them for this, since they are institutions of mass education and not individual education). So, they have to move forward for next level of curriculum, irrespective of whether you child has understood it or not.

Most of the curriculum content in 10th standard is independent of curriculum content from 1st to 9th standard (except for few subjects like mathematics and science). In other words, the 10th standard public board curriculum can be studied in approximately 2 years (1st year for studying basics of subject to be undertaken in 10th standard, and 2nd year for studying curriculum of 10th standard itself). Don't you think, both childrens and their parents, can create wonders in those remaining 8 years? For subjects like mathematics and for slow learners, it can take more than 2 years, but you can still create wonders in balance years.

NIOS 10th standard exam structure is extremely useful in this case. Apart from regular subjects offered in other boards, NIOS offers a wide variety of 32 subjects, including 17 languages. For more details, kindly click here. Moreover, your child gets a flexibility to choose subjects, depending on their interest and the higher education they intend to pursue. For e.g., a child interested in pursuing higher education in commerce stream, can skip subjects like Mathematics & Science, and instead opt for subjects like Accountancy, Economics, and Business Studies.

Self Directed Learning (SDL)

Malcolm Knowles describes SDL as a process in which individuals take the initiative, with or without the help of others, in diagnosing their learning needs, formulating learning goals, identifying human and material resources for learning, implementing appropriate learning strategies, and evaluating learning outcomes.

In SDL, a learner directs and controls entire learning process, in contrast to conventional school/higher education institutions, where curriculum, teaching methods, and evaluation is all decided by others.

Every child is unique. Thus, curriculum and learning strategies for every child also has to be unique, taking into consideration their pace, skills and interest. SDL, thus can be stated as the purest form of learning. An ideal and most scientific format of taking education.

SDL approach is followed in both homeschooling and unschooling. However, a major difference between them is that, homeschooling follows a particular curriculum, whereas, unschooling doesn't follow any curriculum.

Advantages of SDL approach

  1. Parents can eliminate irrelevant and overburdened curriculum content. This reduced and relevant content makes it easier to control and manage learning journey and also makes it more joyful, effective and efficient.
  2. Parents can concentrate on essential life skills. Lack of these skills is the root cause of all problems, not only in education sector, but also in all spheres of life. For more details, refer these life skills guidelines issued by UNESCO. Based on them, CBSE has also issued useful guidelines to incorporate them in education process.
  3. Sports, Arts and Cultural activities play a major role in overall personality development. Under SDL approach, kids can devote more time and nurture their interest in these activities in better ways.
  4. Childrens can focus more on understanding of concepts and exploring them further, in contrast to exam oriented study with rote memorization in school system, where kids hardly remember those concepts after examination.
  5. Parents can adopt innovative and creative methods, so that learning can be a fun for their childrens rather than punishment. For e.g., they can involve their kids in purchase of grocery, vegetables, stationary, etc. Let them calculate the amount to be given to shopkeeper. Demonstrate kids how to take measurement of rooms in their home. Demonstrate measurement patterns for various items such as groceries, fruits, furnitures, cloths, and so many other accessories.
  6. Instead of giving readymade answers to childrens, explain them only the core concepts and then encourage them to explore it further with self study. Encourage them to write essays, create presentations and posters, and participate in debates. Similarly, encourage them to conduct small surveys to get more valuable insights into it.
  7. In SDL, participation and involvement of childrens in learning process is a key factor. SDL philosophy concentrates on "How to Learn". Once your kids adopt this philosophy, Learning automatically becomes fun for them. Moreover, most of their learning journey can be carried out with just minimal help from parents/teachers.

Homeschool Co-operatives & Learning Centres

School system is dominant in India. Even if you exclude pre-independence period, its existing for more than 70 years. So its not that easy for parents as well as their childrens to bypass school system and directly switch to homeschooling or unschooling. Further, parents may not be free and/or skilled enough to implement it effectively.

Homeschool co-operatives OR Learning Centres (LC) can be an ideal solution for this switch. Like minded parents can form small homeschool co-op or LC, wherein, they can share manpower and learning resources. Simply convert a suitable residential place into learning space with appropriate learning resources. Interested and skilled parents themselves can be Facilitators or the same can be appointed. Frame appropriate rules and guidelines so that the conflict can be avoided. If operated on non-profit basis, hardly any legal formalities are required for the same.

Homeschool Co-op or LC initiatives are growing rapidly in India. Currently, their presence is seen more in metro cities like Bangalore, Pune, Mumbai, etc. However, in couple of years, they will be found in almost all cities. They equally need to be grown in rural areas. However, individuals or NGO's will have to take special initiatives to spread them in rural areas.

What about Higher Education?

In India, there are 4 options for self directed learners to join academic mainstream, so that they can pursue higher education of their choice.

  1. NIOS. For more details, go through NIOS FAQ tab.
  2. IGCSE. For more details, go through IGCSE Website.
  3. State Boards. Few state boards allow Private Candidates to appear for 10th Standard exam. Eligibility and other norms for each of these boards may differ. For e.g., in Maharashtra State Board of Secondary & Higher Secondary Education, student should be 4th standard pass and above 14 years of age. Kindly visit the official website of concerned boards for more details.
  4. State Open Boards. Few states have their own separate Open Education Board. For e.g., Maharashtra State Board of Open Schooling. Kindly visit the official websites of concerned state open education board for more details.


Unschooling and Homeschooling are not just formats of education. It's a way of life and philosophical affair. Philosophy, not just for childrens, but more specifically for parents and entire family members in nutshell. In short, its a "family learning together" venture.

Concepts highlighted above are just introductory in nature. Kindly visit appropriate resources on the internet for further information. You can even join social media groups on Facebook, Whatsapp, etc., where you will get an opportunity to interact with parents of homeschoolers and unschoolers. However, do some background study and go through authentic information available on internet, before posting redundant queries.

© Copyright 2020    Mr. Mahesh Angadi