tirsdag 28. januar 2014

Why homeschool? part 3

 Freedom is the wonderful WHY of our education

So, we became free from our current problems. But there were several other freedoms which we did not think of as the reasons to leave school for, but which became the blessings we enjoy.

Freedom of bilingualism

Every bilingual family with children at school knows that without a complimentary education it is almost impossible to maintain the child’s mother tongue.  Norway is a multilingual and multicultural country, while many schools in Norway are happily unaware of that, in spite of a great number of multilingual children in each classroom. School are often operating in a very monolingual way. “This is Norway and here we speak Norwegian”. My children heard this several times. Language of instruction is of course Norwegian, but even during the recess my kids (a brother and a sister!!) were forced to speak Norwegian, without as much as code-switching. Every time they tried to hold a conversation in their mother tongue they were addressed by the school authorities and made clear that it was necessary to switch to Norwegian. The reasons were many, but the conclusion my children made for themselves was clear: speaking Russian, and thus being one, is not valuable. Russians should become Norwegian.  And so should Pakistani. And Turks. And Frenchmen. Maybe one could give an exception to Americans. They speak a language the teachers understand! (As a side note: of course, language is not the only thing which makes a Russian Russian, but it is a cultural marker and a great part of one’s identity.)

Here we should actually address the notions of power, of cultural capital, of transnational knowledge and trans-local affiliation that the children have, which teachers who are ethnically local and monocultural are not aware of, they close their eyes on differences and look at the school children as a homogenous group. They might give some recognition to the kids with different skin color, but the white kids should OF COURSE be, react, and think the way Norwegians do. Which it is not the case. My children ARE bilingual and bicultural. They are Norwegians in many ways. But they ALSO are Russians. 

Therefore homeschooling is befreeing in language and culture terms, when a child is free to read, watch movies, listen to the songs he/ she likes, speak and write both in his/ her mother tongue AND the majority language, or code-switch, as she/ he feels fit for the language situation. Children chose the language they use according the learning arena they are in, which is in its turn, also chosen freely.

Freedom to choose a learning arena

Learning arena should not necessarily be a classroom and books. Such an arena can be actually any institution which is functioning in town. Unfortunately, the public institutions as libraries and museums in Norway have not recognized yet the growing need to address homeschooling families. Nevertheless together with other homeschooling families we have been to guide tours in many of Oslo museums, parks, Philharmonic hall etc, providing our children both joint learning and socialization. 


We made field trips to the University Biology Department, to a laboratory studying mildew and fungus, to an entomology department where we learned about different insects, their life and development. We visited a painter at his workshop, we saw how violins are being made - and used as a learning arena many, many other locations and businesses. 

And we should not forget online learning. Khan academy, Russian online school, a plethora of videos about history, science, natural science, or almost any subject one could think of.  All of it is there!

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