Tuesday, 22 May 2007

Workshop rules

We go to a workshop on renewable energy, held in the offices of a wind turbine developer. This is a hoot. It is possibly Grit's best day out for absolutely ages.

For those people who keep up with Grit's life but don't home educate, here are some of the rules that have guided today's workshop. Some rules will be applicable to workshops in other locations, such as museums, art galleries, zoos, Sainsbury's behind the scenes tour and the Planetarium.


1. Arrive at the workshop at any point. Very early, just on time, late. It doesn't matter. Wander in and out as necessary. Fetch bags from the car, carry toddlers about, use the staff toilets, demand jugs of water, rearrange the chairs or break into the cupboard where the staff keep their coffee.

2. Hover and commentate as required. Grit is good at this. 'Sit down' says the education officer to Squirrel. 'Sit down' says Grit, and hovers in a very tender motherly way. Or in an irritating nuisancy way if you're the education officer.

3. If possible, immediately zoom in on the education officer to (a) extract as much information as possible including any freebies and (b) show off about the virtues of home ed while the kids trash the room.

4. Waft the children in the direction of the increasingly beleaguered education officer and, when they're safely in her care, ignore everyone and everything to chat continuously to Sandra/ Sarah/ Sasha/ Sally/ Sonja/ Silverbell-Moonbeam whom you haven't seen in absolutely ages.

5. Get out a flask of tea / a packet of biscuits whenever you feel like it.

6. If you are asked to make a pinwheel and can see the model that's been carefully made earlier and placed on the desk, take the model apart to get at the cotton reel so the Grit family becomes hopelessly lost because their instructions don't work and there's no model to follow either, except for the one that's just been dismantled.

7. Steal Michelle's model. She has also made a good pinwheel because no-one dismantled her model and her instructions work. Try to steal that too. Unfortunately she's not letting it out of her sight but keeps shouting 'Look at my pinwheel! It works!'

8. Make sure everything is in the car ready for a proper educational session. Picnic blanket, iPod, food, drinks, wet wipes, sunhat, sunscreen, umbrella, coat for Squirrel, socks for Tiger, knickers for Shark, Chewee bars, crayons, paper, small craft items, emergency food under the car passenger seat, small bottle of picnic wine in the glove compartment, book.

9. When everything goes pear-shaped, and someone is threatening to call the security guards or the police, smile.

10. Thank the organiser. You want an invitation to the next thing they arrange. Thank you Michelle. It was really a lovely day. Can we come again?

Of course, being a good home educator, Grit makes up most of the rules as we go along and certainly doesn't follow all these rules all the time because they don't apply to her, except for rule no. 5. And today I threatened Shark with the security guards only once.


1. Immediately go to anything that can be pulled, pushed, swung round, moved or sat on, and do what it's clearly asking for. When it snaps, say 'That's not a very good design is it?'

2. Try hard to follow that ridiculous rule about putting up your hand before you speak until you realise that the education officer is actually not applying this rule consistently and just took the answer from someone who shouted it out, so shout out the answer too. Louder.

3. Pretend not to listen to anything the education officer says until asked a question designed to catch you out and then repeat everything she's said back to her, word for word.

4. Get fed up with the Noddy progress and shout out 'Global warming is caused by emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases from human activities including industrial processes, fossil fuel combustion, and changes in land use. My mum told me.'*

5. Comment loudly on how the education officer is doing.

6. Shout 'Mum! I am hungry!' at any moment, especially when a biscuit packet can be heard opening covertly from Grit's bag.

7. If there is a stick anywhere about, grab it and wave it.

8. If you are Shark, Squirrel or Tiger, push each other about a bit until you are separated by a tender loving mother.

* With special thanks to Am for contributing this.

Education officer:

1. Try and keep to the script. Even when the little kid in the front row called out the punchline that you're building up to and is the whole point of the hour-long workshop and they got it in five minutes. Keep to the script to the death.

2. Pretend to be in control.

3. Try to provide the right instructions on how to make the pinwheel. Very specifically, include information on what to do with the two cardboard circles that the Grit family will be left with when they have followed the instructions and realise the pinwheel doesn't work. Because the Grit family has no model to follow, instructions that don't work, and a very agitated Shark who is being threatened with the security guards if she empties her lungs out again past that vibrating scream chord she keeps in her throat, then in all the above circumstances, pretend not to see the Grit family and cross the room to avoid them.

As before, following these rules creates just about the bestest day out a Grit can get.

1 comment:

Michelle said...

I had just about stopped shaking with the memories!

I left (pretty much ran away in my bid to escape!) and swore never, ever to organise anything ever again.

Then I received emails from 3 families (including yours) thanking me and saying what a good day they'd had. So I'm slightly mollified now :-)

May be much stricter on the invite list in future. Which is something I really don't like having to do as I think things should be open to everybody but as it impacted on my enjoyment of the day so much I think I will need to be more selfish in future.

And you know it's never your family concerned - much as you like to paint a dark picture on these pages.

Enjoy your week away. xx