About this website:
As stated on our Homepage, this website was founded with two basic objectives. Firstly, to provide parents with information and options on educating their children. Secondly, and perhaps more importantly, to create a local, Trinidad and Tobago, network of parents who are interested in educating their children at home or at least outside the traditional school system. Here our focus is on a radically different way to educate your child — one that is curriculum free. If you are looking to educate your child in the traditional way, based on some predefined curriculum, but just outside of the school system, then a quick Google will yield tons of information. It is not that we do not believe in examinations, but just not too early in a child’s life. Though the advice given here may not turn your children into wunderkinder, at least they might each have a happier childhood. And, who knows, they may be writing their Advanced Level examinations by age fourteen.
About Contacting Us and leaving Comments or Replies:
In order for us homeshooling (or unschooling) parents to network we need to exchange contact information. To do this, interested persons can contact the site admin (me) using the form on the Contact Us page. No information will be exchanged with anyone, even another member, without express consent. If any members wish to post their own contact information in a Comment Thread i.e. as a ‘Reply’, it is their prerogative.
Readers can contact us on any matter whatsoever: content, site layout, anything at all by using the submission form on the Contact Us page. However, to comment on a posted article in ‘Topics Discussed’ or leave ‘General Comments’ for others to read, you must first register and become a member. This serves to manage comments and reduce ‘comment spam’. Registration is free. All you have to do is click on ‘Register’ in the Login Window when you attempt to make your first comment. Please note that there is also a notification box which you can select when you submit or reply to a comment. This would send an e-mail from us to your e-mail address automatically notifying you that someone has responded to your comment. This makes it easy for discussions to take place without you having to manually check to see if there was any response. Also, there is a link in every notification messsage to ‘opt out’ from being sent notfications. We hope to hear from you either via the basic Contact Us form or from you becoming a member and sending comments.
There are a number of generalizations on this site: generalizations about teachers; generalizations about schools; generailzations about parents; and even generalizations about children. Generalizations can be a good thing or a bad thing depending on how you look at them. We have been told to not judge a book by its cover, but every creature with a brain uses generalizations. A fish finds food through generalization - generalizing what food may look like through shape, size and colour. However, many times it may be wrong and this can be deterimental for the fish. As the brain of the organism increases, the capacity to discern the specific from the general increases, reaching its zenith in humans. But humans too, must genealize to survive. As we walk, we make assumptions about the ground in front of us. If it looks similar to the ground on which we are currently walking then we assume it is the same and march onwards. If however, the eyes spot a difference, then we analyze it a bit to determine our course of action. In fact, some metropolitan artists have started painting puddles and manholes on city sidewalks which many avoid as they walk. If we do not generalize, we will achieve little. There is a saying that too much analysis leads to paralysis. Still, our ability to discern is one of the values that separate us from many lower life forms.
In writing, generalizations can anger many. I can assure the reader this is not intended and any criticism here is not targeted to discredit any person, profession or position. Rather, it is intend to raise our consciouses and to help us discern. Open-minded individuals can accept criticism, even vituperative criticism, assess its relevance and benefit from it if necessary. Closed-minded individuals are not so fortunate. It is said that true education trades and empty mind for an open one. (“Reprove not a scorner, lest he hate thee; rebuke a wise man, and he will love thee”).
My name is Dexter Mahadeo. I am a 46 year old married freelance computer network technician with two beautiful girls, 4 and 5 years old. At present my daughters are not home schooled. (Hey skeptics, don’t snicker, I can see that smirk on your faces). However, I hope that they soon will be. Like many, I have to work out all the details. In fact, one the reasons for setting up this website was to meet like minded individuals; you know, two heads are always better than one and the more individuals with whom to exchange ideas the better.
I completed my secondary education at St. Mary’s College and hold an Upper Second Class Honours Bachelor’s degree from the University of the West Indies, majoring in Economics and History (1992). Among other jobs, I worked at NIHERST as a Research Officer and at the Restructuring and Support Unit of the Ministry of Planning as Project Implementation Assistant assisting in the administration of World Bank loans before I decided to change my career (1996/7). At that time my conscience could no longer bear to work for/with the Government. I wanted to be part of the solution, not the problem. In the process of finding a career I loved, I turned down a full Commonwealth Scholarship to pursue a Master’s in Development Economics – a scholarship for which I worked very hard. The reason being is that I grew to love computer technology and while I always worked with computers, it was never my primary occupation. Through a chain of events, I started to tutor computer courses at UWI, St. Augustine.
Eventually I decided to change my career and do what I liked. Fortune would have it that the School of Accounting and Management Studies (SAMS) invited individuals from the public to sit a general Maths and English exam, awarding one scholarship in each area of study. I sat the exam and was awarded a scholarship to undertake the Associate of Computer Professionals (ACP) programme. I followed that up with a number of I.T. Certification programmes over the years; self-studying for many of them to the effect that my certifications include: MSCE (NT4 /2000 /2003), Network+, A+ and CWNA.
My occupations over the years changed, moving from a Systems Admin at RBTT to Corporate Systems Admin at Caribbean Home Insurance (now Guardian General). While there, I tutored part time courses offered to the public by UWI. The two key personalities who changed my life in this direction were Anthony Samuel (now resident in Canada) and Manohar Sookhoo (still at UWI). I will be forever in their debt. Through another chain of events, the then Dean of the Faculty of Social Sciences and a past lecturer of mine, another remarkable man, Dr. Patrick Watson invited me to setup an I.T. Unit at the Faculty. This unit became known as the Technical Training Unit (TTU). It continued the work beagn by Watson and Sookhoo, in that it offered I.T. courses to the public, but the level of the technical course were upgraded to include A+, Network+, MCSA and MCSE. I served in the capacity of manager and head instructor of the TTU for a couple of years. When Dr Watson gave up the Deanship of the Faculty to head the Sir Aurthur Lewis Institute of Social and Economic Studies, the work was no longer fun and the Unit lost its pioneering impetus. Having long decided never to make work a job, I left and eventually founded my own I.T. training facility and did freelance I.T. consulting. After the kids came along something had to give and I gave up the teaching.
The reason I have listed some of my academic accomplishments is not to boast, but to show that I have been around in the education business, I know of what I speak. I know that I am smart (we all are). I have a Graduate Record Examination (GRE) percentile ranking of: Verbal (93%), Quantitative (84%) and Analytical (83%). Those of you who understand GRE profiling would know what that means. I am no nitwit. I was not always this self-confident of my intelligence and there’s a too long story why.
I have a number of regrets with respect to my education pathway. It has taken me much too long to find a career that I love. Though no one holds destiny’s hands, we can sure help offer our children a better opportunity. Doing what you like — there’s nothing better. Finding what you like — can take a lifetime.
About how I became interested in homeschooling
I have always wondered about the learning process. When my first child was born I became fascinated with it. I knew that the education system was a mess and my wife (a teacher) and I naturally thought that private schooling would be the best course to take. However, God would direct me along a different path. Like many of those who have an interest in childhood education, I noticed that children who were involved in the Arts, especially music, were more disciplined and seemed more ‘together’ than their peers.
So, I searched around and found a music teacher for my daughter not far from my office in Tacarigua, the late Ms Louise McIntosh (a remarkable woman). Her fees were rather high, but she came highly recommend. Anyway, in the course of events sometime in early 2007, Ms. McIntosh had to move due to her landlord selling her rented house from underneath her. As I had a pick-up truck, she telephoned me one Friday and asked if I could help her move the next day. I told her that I had already made a commitment to my wife and kids to take them to the beach next morning. However, I could not sleep. I spoke to my wife and told her that I wanted to help Ms. McIntosh move next morning. I promised her I would be back early. Somehow, she understood and did not give me the usual, “you always have something to do…’. I telephoned Ms. M. around midnight, she was still packing, and told her I could maybe make one trip. She thanked me and told me the others would be meeting at her home at 6:00 am on Saturday. Eventually, we made over four trips, one of which involved toting her beloved, but very heavy piano
Anyway, when I arrived early on Saturday, she had displayed, on two tables in her porch, a number of books for sale at TT$1 each with the proceeds to go to charity. Many of the books were religious, she was a staunch Seven Day’s Adventist, and I bought six or seven — including two Bibles and two thin, very old looking books that changed my life: ‘Something Beautiful for God’ and ‘How Children Fail’. ‘Something Beautiful for God’, the book which I read first, was written by a BBC journalist about the life and practice of Mother Theresa, a heroine of mine for a great many years now. ‘How Children Fail’, a hard read, was written by John Holt, an American teacher. In the book was material that I did not expect to find. It sent me in turmoil with stress, but somehow offered hope. I soon purchased and read many more of Holt’s books. It’s sad that a man who had so much to offer died so young.
Anyway, what I want to bear out, is had I not done that act of charity, I would have still been wondering what to do about my children’s education and their future. I don’t have to worry any more. God is good!