Wednesday, 8 October 2008

Why home educate? (8) Socialisation

Really, you meet all sorts in this home ed world. And you meet people that you share nothing in common with, apart from the fact that home education draws you together in this very same space, on this very same day, at precisely this moment. All for a rocket making workshop, or how to make puppets, learn how fish breathe, pour water over a four-inch sheep, or interrogate monks about what they really do on Sundays.

Yet, do you know, throughout this wild and wonderful assemblage of stuff, the kids mostly play together and learn together, while their adults mostly get on, have a chat, nod politely and drink tea.

And I'm not saying it doesn't happen: that two mummies don't coldly eye each other up and, in a parallel universe, wrestle each other to the ground and punch each other's lights out. Or that a daddy never stares in horror and takes a brisk sidestep when the 18-strong evangelical Christian family clamber out the Motorin' for Jesus bus. Or one in fury doesn't turn up, and then, late, scowls cross-armed for an hour because they've been railroaded into this home ed crap and sure enough here's a bunch of old hippies.

But kids our age, babies, teens, ankle-biters, lippy-just-turned-twelve; they all come along, and granny does too, as do great-grandma and sometimes her Irish wolfhound, because home ed involves the entire family and now everyone wants a cup of tea. And then there are the old hippies and the new hippies and the 4x4 folks who are home educating for the term while they wangle James into St Chris, mixing with the family who are self sufficient, carbon neutral and have named their twins Plasticine and Purple. Then there's that dreadful woman you want to avoid because she blogs every word you utter, and the settled family who just want to be left alone to be happy, rubbing along with the ancient Marxist who is still living the day the revolution comes.

And that whole tidal spread of humanity washes up at the rocket making session and has to get on together, otherwise that rocket won't get made. At that point we have to overlook our intolerances and differences, our irritation that someone else has different parenting values from our own, our insecure feelings that someone else is doing it all better, more wisely, more confidently, and with twelve kids, not just three. We have to find our shared goals, and help the kids make rockets or water sheep and then have a cup of tea together.

Here is that common binding element, which is home education. However we all came by it - drawn here from ideological bent, school issues, health, aspiration, bloody-mindedness, commitment, lifestyle, just trying it, anything at all - that thread links us all together. The kids of all ages, backgrounds, communities, have to meet each other, play together, fall out, make up, get on. And by picking up one of those loosened ends and entering into that open network you meet some truly wise and wonderful people, find inspiring, thoughtful friends, be welcomed with gentleness, comfort and smiles when there are troubles to weather and hard decisions to face. Here there are people who help and support and talk things through, and deal with sadness and doubt and for this you don't have to do anything creepy or weird like sign your soul to a sect or hand over your pay packet. It comes all for free with people being people.

We are fortunate to have these people around us. In our busy week Shark, Squirrel, Tiger, Grit and sometimes Dig all mix in with the loud, opinionated, ever-smiling, dazed, crazed and wacko. Every week we need to meet new people, find common areas of concern and pursuit, share knowledges and stories, aspirations and doubts, and never prejudge anyone, even when met by an eight foot crucifix or purple hair.

Now really, tell me, is socialisation a reason not to home educate?


Irene said...

I don't know if I have it in me to be quite that tolerant, but I admire you for being so. Actually, being an oddball myself, I should be happy with people like you, instead I find that I always look for a little bit of confirmation, not wanting to quite stand out too much, but just enough.

Thank you for stopping by my blog and for you support. Hugs.

Kitty said...

"Then there's that dreadful woman you want to avoid because she blogs every word you utter"

I was having a laugh with some friends the other day, when one turned round to me and said 'you're not going to write about this on the blog are you?" :-O


sharon said...

Some you like and some you don't, but you never know until you try them for size/style! It sounds as though I would have fitted in just fine in amongst this hodgepodge of humanity. Actually, childminding did expose us to 'all sorts' as well!

Michelle said...

pmsl. I have a photo of your car boot that I was going to include in a "match the car boot to the HE family" post. I did change my mind.