Sunday, 15 February 2009

Shaping young minds

One criticism made of home education is that we parents seek to control the environment for our children; that we shape the children we want; that we direct interests, or pass on our parental values to children; and that we do this unrelentingly, year after year after year.

And I would say in answer to that criticism, ABSOLUTELY.

But on that, we're no different to another type of environment set up to bring about this state of affairs. Except that one costs £9,000 a term.

And the reason we might buy it? For the same reasons everyone else puts their kids there. So Shark, Squirrel and Tiger could meet the right sort of people and develop the right sort of interests and the right type of values. This is essential kit for the upper middle class of Britain isn't it? Along with having the right name, the right family and the right tastes (which of course are shown in the right sort of understated way).

Well if we want to pass on some parental values, direct some interests and lay down some guiding principles for living, we may as well home educate. We cannot afford the fees for someone else to do it.

And anyway, the Dig and Grit family does not have the right sort of background.

For a start, Dig's family name is made up thanks to a midnight elopement in nineteenth century Wales. At least that's poetic. On Grit's side we have nothing but carnage, criminality and mayhem. Little Grit grew up with stories of family members running in this gang. Along with tales of wife beating, hiding in the coal shed, drunken rampages, murder with a chamber pot, shifty uncles who'd keep sweets in their trouser pockets, and a scattering of incarcerations, mental instabilities and imprisonments.

Quite frankly, with a heritage like that, we've blown the private school option. So if we're interested in shaping the urbane, sophisticated and well educated children we want, home education is the only option left.

Not surprisingly, as home educators, just like the parents of schooled children, we have ambitions for Shark, Squirrel and Tiger. We want these children to develop into creative, intelligent, tolerant, well educated people too*.

And to this end, of course we want to help grow the people we want to be close to all our lives. Of course we want to help shape interests, pass on values, advance an education and assist the development of those urbane tastes.

We nearly achieve it today. We pack Squirrel, Shark and Tiger off to a classical music concert with the Hat. Here they listen to Carnival of the Animals and bits of Swan Lake and bits of Moussorgsky. And the Hat passes on some values of good behaviour and sophisticated choice in ice cream.

Then we come home and discuss over a party tea how ducks squirt poopy from their bottoms, why penguins might build road blocks, how you can walk if your knickers are round your ankles, whether Fish head the local cat really does eat fish heads, and how rancid they are before he gives them to the alley cat Tin Can, and whether you can balance rabbits on your head and would anyone notice if you did.

As I said right up front, we aim to do this for years, and years, and years.

Consider it a long term project.

And those ambitions? Squirrel thinks flowers and an engineer, Tiger thinks artist and animator, and Shark thinks chef and marine biologist. Whatever else, we do not lack ambition. And fortunately, no-one has yet said they aim to become a drugged up prostitute.


mamacrow said...


Mr Farty said...

I love what you're doing there.

Michelle said...

You don't need to buy a private education for that as it's also the state system. The best state schools here are fed by the more affluent areas and people go to extraodrinary lengths to try and get their child in the "right" school - which ususally means the school attended by children from more affluent families. One frined was pleased her daughter's class didn't have anyone entitled to free school dinners in it.

Michelle said...

And then there are those who "use the Catholic card"

sharon said...

Are you sure your family isn't from the aristocracy Grit? It sounds very similar to me (having attended Fee-paying Girls School - on an academic scholarship I hasten to add).

Suburbia said...

Sounds lovely, I am envious.

Anonymous said...

Murder with a chamber pot?


mamacrow said...

oh dear, I'm going to go down in everyone's estimation again... I attended a private school AND we sent our kids to the catholic school (before we EHE'ed). Ah well!

Grit - I wanted to ask if Tiger has discovered A Town Called Panic? They're short stop-animation films on youtube - we all a little obsessed with them, and this post reminded me of that great film Tiger made and I wondered if she'd like 'em.

Frog in the Field said...

Grit, I sense someone has had a dig at you?
Let no-one knock your decision to spend your energy and passion on learning life with your children, It's fantastic!I've read so many of your adventures in the past, you are definitely doing just the right thing for your family.
And I say this as a parent who pay school fees.
We all make choices for different reasons, and Thank goodness..heck the world would be a boring place.
My children would refuse to listen and all sit on the Tractor with their father all day nodding heads to T-Rex!!

Grit said...

hello folks, thank you for your comments. it is a bad time for home educators in the uk, and i am struggling to laugh.

mamacrow said...

'My children would refuse to listen and all sit on the Tractor with their father all day nodding heads to T-Rex!!'

that sounds pretty good - we might have to have a T-Rex tractor day next week!

Cheer up Grit. It'll all be over by Christmas...

Ahem... never mind :(