In this blog post, Christina Christian, country coordinator for Classical Conversations in India, shares her homeschooling journey with Classical Conversations and discusses the fascinating history and the current state of classical education and homeschooling in India.
My Family’s Experience with Classical Conversations
Where do I get the courage to homeschool my children in a trivial city located in the incredibly vast country of India? This is a question I have come to ask myself many times during my family’s experience with Classical Conversations.
When my husband and I first considered homeschooling our children, we were aware that there were a few families homeschooling in south India. However, where we live, homeschooling was an unknown concept. Despite this, in 2014, we purchased the Foundations guide, a tin whistle, and the science experiment book and started homeschooling our eldest, who was four years old at the time. Little did I know, we were in for a big surprise as we embarked upon our CC journey and began to understand what classical education entails.
So once again, I ask, “Where did I find the courage to homeschool?” 2 Timothy 1:7 is a verse my friend shared with me during this time, and God used it to give me the courage I so desperately needed. It says, “For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind” (KJV). This verse helped me and my husband overcome our fears and doubts of homeschooling and fill our hearts with strength. From that point on, we continued to homeschool in India out of our love for Him and for our children.
God has given us sound minds to understand and follow His call to homeschool, and I praise Him because He is doing the same with so many other families throughout India.
‘But where shall I find courage?’ asked Frodo. ‘That is what I chiefly need.’ —The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring by J. R. R. Tolkien
Education in India
Allow me to take you through this ancient land that boasts of its colorful culture, oneness in diversity, and immense progress in modern technology.
India has 28 states and 8 union territories. Officially, there are 22 languages used throughout the states and territories, with English being the secondary language. Every state has its own culture, food, and traditions. As we are surrounded by these many different ways of life, we thank God for bringing us into His family and way of life. He has been so faithful to sanctify us.
Education in Ancient and Medieval India
It is fascinating to know that, in ancient India, children were classically educated. Ancient India had places called gurukuls, where children from higher classes would live with their teachers, the guru, to study subjects like astronomy, mathematics, philosophy, economic and political science, logic, and warfare.
This model for education eventually became very popular in Eastern Europe and Asia. Nalanda University, which was founded in 427 AD, is an example of a school that had residential professors and students. Subjects like fine arts, economics, logic, medicine, mathematics, astronomy, politics, and Buddhist philosophy were taught. This attracted students from many countries like Korea, Japan, China, Tibet, Indonesia, Persia, and Turkey.
Education during the Colonization of India
The modern education system was brought to India by the Europeans in the 18th century. Schools were established in various parts of the country and the medium of instruction was English. During this time, many missionaries also started schools across India. These schools brought about a major change in the education and lives of the people of India.
Education in Modern India
Today, in the 21st century, the local, national, and international private schools provide the country with various national and international curricula. A good education is extremely valuable to the people of India. For many, education leads them out of poverty, and for many, it is a means for achieving higher goals. Because of this, there is competition to get into the best schools and eventually the best colleges and universities. After schooling has been completed, there is competition to get the best jobs.
If a child does not get into a school, then they cannot get into a university. This leaves us, as home educators, with very few options available to help our children get into colleges.
Homeschooling in India
Parents, who are choosing to home educate their children, are refusing to conform to the public education system and are learning to let go of their fears and find their confidence in God. We are thankful for Classical Conversations because homeschooling our children classically is a blessing and a gift from God. Even though it is no small feat, homeschooling has proven to be well worth it.
In order to classically educate, we have to unlearn what we think education should be and learn what classical education is.
Classical Conversations in India
Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you . . . —Matthew 7:7 (KJV)
When we began our journey with Classical Conversations, we did not have a community of like-minded, Christian, homeschooling families to depend on. During this time, we asked God for a community of believers to do CC with. He amazingly answered our prayers, and a CC community was planted in India in 2021! Through this community, we have been given the affordable tools and training we need as parents to homeschool well. Classical Conversations is giving courage to numerous young moms to teach their children about God with other like-minded moms, which until recently, had been impossible.
Love the beautiful,
Seek out the true,
Wish for the good,
And the best do!
—Felix Mendelssohn, A Child’s Book of Poems
Countless families are discovering the beauty of classical education through CC. It has given them the confidence and courage to homeschool in a country where homeschooling is stigmatized. Because of this confidence, moms are ready to join their children as lifelong learners in order to better classically educate them. As Robert Frost said,
The woods are lovely, dark and deep,
But I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep,
And miles to go before I sleep.
Today, there are CC communities in 9 cities around the country of India. People with different backgrounds and expats join the communities with the common goal to know God and make Him known.
Sadly, for some families, circumstances are not conducive for home education. There is often great opposition within families over education. This is why community is so important as you homeschool! It provides a place to encourage each other as we strive to give our children a classical, Christian education.
All glory to God our Maker!
Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things. —Philippians 4:8 (KJV)