Wednesday, 1 October 2008

Why home educate? (1) Attention span

A new month needs a new focus, so thanks to the Pig whose fault this is, and October, because it is here already, I shall record the many reasons why Shark, Squirrel and Tiger do not go to school, but play all day long under the guise of home education. And when they plead Why, Mother, Why? I can point them to the blog, go open a beer, and hope that they can read.

The first reason we educate from home may as well be attention span.

Q: How long can you keep on doing the same thing without stopping to eat, wee, scream?
A: If you are Shark, Squirrel or Tiger, a very long time indeed.

Take today, for example. Shark, Squirrel and Tiger have been writing notes and passing them between their unicorns.* At first Grit thought this was delightful because the messages read like this...
Daer Rasil
I hope your wll and happy. Can you meet me at the fire. Il bring mony. See you tere. PS. May the 15. xxx From Sirius.

Dear Snowy
I am going on hloboy in broneyoe. see you next week. xxxx from Icy.

Dear Sirius
Could I hava a copy of your diary (ps) I hope you are haraing a good tom. xxx

Daer Icy
I con not cam for 2 wics I wot to com I wod com for 3 wics I wot to invot you to my bofbay poty its biing hob at geenland
From Snowy xxxx
After a couple of hours of this and a constant stream of requests to spell stuff like could, aeroplane, Borneo, birthday and beetles, the letter writing unicorns retreated to live in dark caves under the sofa cushions, where they must pile up their mail, delivered by the post unicorn who carried a sack on his back, and do you know what? After another few hours with eight unicorns and a flying postal service run out of a black bin liner, this house resembling a paper shredding factory, and mummy Grit got all ground down with spelling hooves, inflatable and wicker, then things weren't quite so funny any more.

But still those notes kept on going round and round.

And for seven long hours the unicorns kept up this dialogue of crap. Until mummy Grit, now swimming face deep in notepaper and cut up envelopes said enough! and bloody well get to bed! and no! I am not spelling out I am on holiday in Borneo resting my hooves so cannot come to your bofday party.

And this is a very good reason why we home educate. Because in amongst their discussion today Shark, Squirrel and Tiger clocked up writing, reading, spelling, grammar, geography, mythology, what the postee does, and how many trees had to be chopped up to make the 9567 sheets of paper that started the day but by nightfall had ended in bits all over the front room.

At school, they would have been told to sit down, be quiet and to pay attention. Like this was something that, without instruction, they were unable to do.

* Note to Shark, Squirrel and Tiger. If you are still looking for the missing unicorns - the ones I confiscated in 2005 - they are in a black bin liner under the eaves. And please be careful of the toilet waste pipe.


Kitty said...

Maybe not at all schools would they have been told to sit down, be quiet and pay attention. But your 'school' is fabulous. I admire what you're doing enormously - not just because it's a great thing to do, but because you are standing up and saying 'this is who I am, this is what I believe, and I'm bloody well doing it ... so there'.

More power to your elbow. x

Adventure Mother said...

I do admire your patience. I'm sure your children are having the most wonderful education - I know I couldn't do it!

sharon said...

No,I couldn't do what you do either Grit. I admire your determination enormously though. Fortunately the schools my boys went to were not so draconian in the approach they took to learning/teaching as those you have experienced. Not sure how I would have dealt with the whole school thing otherwise.

In the interests of saving paper, have you considered little blackboards and chalks? Or, and this takes me back a long way, those 'magic' writing pads that we used to put in Christmas stockings would be ideal. Less to clear up afterwards too ;-) I suppose the modern answer would be a laptop for each of the girls so they could e-mail each other....

OvaGirl said...

oh dear this made me laugh. I'm sorry I have nothing helpful to add. Except I do remember when unicorns took on a life of their own and caused a huge craze at my school and no one was clever enough to set up unicorn post so i think there's something in that. Also...(and this is probably quite silly) the movie Legend (starring a boyish still crooked-teethed Tom Cruise) had some really beautiful unicorn scenes...(Ridley Scott direction I think...)

Allie said...

That's a good example. Lovely that they have each other to do this stuff with.
At one of our home ed groups, recently, the children have been working together on 'swamp creation'. This involves digging a network of channels, adding appropriate characters (some plastic toys and some home-made) and then pouring water through the channels and developing storylines. Kids range from about six to about eleven and would probably do this for days and days if they could. I love to see them working out theories, testing them, sharing knowledge and working together. Adults are only involved as and when asked.

Gill said...

Fabulous post, Grit. I love it!

Grit said...

hi kitty, i haven't been in a school yet where someone didn't holler that across a room of kids! if there was such a school near us, we might have sent shark, squirrel and tiger!

hi adventure mother! i think lots of people are capable of home ed, but many reasons probably come into play against it.

yes indeed sharon! the laptop solution was mentioned!

do you know, ovagirl, i have never seen that film. i am so very glad, if only to be spared more unicorns.

that swamp creation sounds wonderful, allie. ours made mud channels with bridges so the beetles could cross safely without getting their feet wet when the hose came out. aah.

thank you, gill! said...

i have been reading your blog since discovering it yesterday and i am crying with laughter. you strick it so perfectly. this, in particular, this whole attention span and ''how do you spell'' struck a particular chord. keep writing.