‘Unschooling’ In The Context Of Growing Mental Health Concerns Among Indian Students: The Journey Of 3 Middle-Class Unschooling Families.

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Abstract

India’s education system has often been critiqued for aspects of rigidness, competition, work overload, hierarchic power, and lack of creativity, resulting in feelings of stress and anxiety in students. Interestingly, alternative education approaches have come up in the past few decades in response to formal education, including the rise of unschooling. In this article the self-reported journeys of three unschooling parents are analyzed to bring insights into 1) what role stress and anxiety might play in the decisions of Indian parents to choose unschooling, 2) how key advantages and disadvantages of unschooling are shaped and recognised by unschooling parents, 3) how personal experiences of ‘stress’ are appreciated and experienced in Indian unschooling family contexts, and 4) what distinctively different processes are evident in the upbringing process of unschooled children, compared with those existing in formal education systems. Results reveal that a sense of tedium in formal classrooms, as well as a problematisation of stress, motivates parents’decision for unschooling. Social pressures and challenges are experienced, yet also welcomed by parents as part of the unschooling journey. ‘Stress’ is differently framed and experienced in the stories of unschooling parents, emphasizing the stress which is evoked through unrestricted self-governed learning processes, as opposed to ‘distress’ experienced in systems of directive and sometimes coercive learning. Finally, this article reflects on aspects of ‘trust’ and ‘self-agency’ which were found meaningful in unschooling and how to potentially encourage such notions in formal education settings to prevent mental health issues in children and youth.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-33
Number of pages33
JournalThe Journal of Unschooling and Alternative Learning
Volume11
Issue number22
Publication statusPublished - 2017

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