Tuesday, 29 May 2007

Get ready for learning

We are preparing for our week in Kent. I would like to say holiday in Kent, but as a good home educating family, we never take holidays. We engage in appropriate learning experiences. So, for the school-attending families amongst you, here are some rules for a home educating experience.

If, on the morning we set off, mother starts to mutter loudly to herself about the cost of petrol at the Tesco filling station, we are doing Maths.

If we get lost on the way and mother is shouting at the Sat Nav lady for leading us into unchartered countryside where there is a single track road with pot holes the depth of the Grand Canyon, absolutely no passing places for 20 miles, extraordinarily high hedges so we cannot see over and feel trapped and doomed forever in the Villages of the Damned, and with no phone masts for miles around so we cannot dial 999 or ring the RAC, then we are doing Geography.

If mother has a breakdown and starts to sob uncontrollably, we are doing PSHE.

If we get there and mother has to drink heavily and say she is never coming back, enjoy the week, reflect upon it, and call it History.

When we finally start to enjoy ourselves and determine to spend a few hours on the beach, we are not playing. Oh no. We are assessing the physical properties of wet and dry sand, and sand with bits in it like nylon fishing thread, old crisp packets and dead crabs. This is physics, natural sciences, biology, chemistry and possibly palaeontology when mother says 'Go and do some digging. Over there. As far away from me as possible because I am trying to read a book. Now push off and look for anything. I don't know what. Try dinosaurs.'

And if we build a sandcastle we are not just mucking about. Not at all. We are doing architecture. We are extending our project work to think through the practicalities of making our city environment out of sand, a few pebbles, and some shells. Then there's the sociology of the built environment. Put a dead crab on top of your building, and speculate how office workers might feel if they had to spend all day commuting backwards and forwards to a building with a dead crab for a roof.

If we go off for a walk through the dunes, the shingle, the marsh, or along the roadside because the car has broken down, then we are of course doing science. Science in schools these days seems to be anything from 'Can you spot an earthworm?' to 'Is the M20 natural or man-made?' So that'll do for us.

When we get back to the van after a full learning experience of a day, mother will want to watch Big Brother to see who's getting evicted this week, not that she watches that, not at all. Never ever. That would be much too gutter. Draw a picture while I cook the pasta and shut up because I am trying to listen to BB. There you go. Art. We could all listen to the accents of the contestants on Big Brother. That sounds like English to me. Listen hard! You might hear some Welsh. Languages.

So there you have it. From the core curriculum to the social and moral education we all need, apparently. A week away is just what the home educating Grit family needs.

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