The pursuit of knowledge

The pursuit of knowledge

Lately I've been seriously thinking about pulling my son, now almost 11 years old, out of school. 

It's not because we aren't happy with the school — we are. But I've just come to think it's time, as parents, we wisely enjoy the benefit of living in a generation blessed with an abundance of information.

Today, knowledge — from well-cultivated data to current events, in spheres from arts to sciences — seems to be floating all around us. Most of them are free for grabs.

Thanks to a multitude of favourable websites and extensive selection of TV documentaries, a fifth grader can be smarter than many college graduates.

I can see my son gaining more knowledge in six months from television and books, than what his parents achieved in a 10-year time frame while in school.

Many youngsters today are much more exposed to the world. They have a greater opportunity to not just read and watch, but also to travel the planet, than most of us growing up before the turn of the millennium.

Just like most people my age, I grew up in a generation where people took a vacation once every three years. Joining a family excursion, my first holiday was when I was six. Bang Saen, Pattaya and Cha-am, seaside resorts a few hour's drive away, were common destinations.

On the other hand, our offspring enjoy a family trip on a yearly basis and often travel as far as Alaska, even as early as the age of one.

With Singapore, Tokyo and London among parent's favourite holiday spots, the little ones get to see the world, feel different climates, eat various types of cuisines and interact with people of different nationalities.

So, for example, instead of combing aisles of books in libraries to see what some of the world famous historic sites look like, like we did in the past, kids today access that information and learn much more naturally and favourably via hands-on experiences.

With all the information they are exposed to, children today perceive the world as an arena of possibility. They tend to realise their capabilities at a young stage and know what they want to do for a living. Their dreams are not shaped upon instruction by parents and teachers, but are open to self experiments and not easily intimidated by new ventures.

Ever since he was seven, my son has showed an interest in entrepreneurship. Sometimes his business ideas make sense (to sell products through pre-order requests). Sometimes they don't (to upgrade the quality and build brands for local food vendors in our neighbourhood).     

No matter how we appreciate his initiative, we often ended up telling him to hold off the idea simply because he has to go to school and spend time on school assignments.

It has come to mind that a school schedule and having to do homework is delaying our son's greater learning process. We're seriously considering the more profound advantage of a home-based education.

And I'm not talking of home-schooling.

Despite the purpose of breaking away from the traditional curriculum, in Thailand, home-schooled children still need to go through evaluations generated by the Ministry of Education.

In the past few years there have been a mind-boggling series of flawed O-Net examinations. The National Institute of Educational Testing Service's measurement of basic education has included unsuitable questions, major grammatical mistakes in the English language test and even inaccurate answers.

Yet, instead of improving, new mistakes in national exams keep emerging every year. How long will we have to conform to such notorious academic standards by the ministry?

There are a number of alternative schools, including the one my son goes to, that provide a new educational approach. Sadly, these schools, as well as the community of home-schooled children, still need to consider the ministry's outdated, one-size-fits-all classification.

It is unquestionable that the world has evolved and the way people learn and live their lives has changed tremendously. So why are we still sticking to the same old classroom-based methods when it comes to educating our offspring?

I don't know what the future holds if my child is unschooled. But sooner or later, we will go the school-free way. And I hope to share with you my satisfying results.


Vanniya Sriangura is a senior writer and food columnist of Life.

Vanniya Sriangura

Senior writer and food columnist of Life

Vanniya Sriangura is a senior writer and food columnist of Life.

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