Monday, 30 March 2009

Plan for world domination comes next

Ha! I am a power-crazed maniac sucking the souls from my own children! Yes! I need only acquire a bald cat and master the evil stare for all my plans to be complete!

But until then, this is it. How I plan, enforce, and control the home education and keep a record of it all at the same time. Nineteen easily forgettable steps to be conducted over several years.

1. Think Oh My God we are doing nothing. NOTHING. Do something. Quick. Before the inspectors come round and slap School Attendance Orders on everyone. Including me. This is a very important step and leads to number two.

2. Find a library book in an area I know nothing about. This is family learning after all, and we are driven to suffer in equal measure. Let's take Chemistry. Once I knew absolutely nothing about chemistry. Now I know a little bit less. Soon I will aspire to be dangerous. I find Teach yourself GCSE Chemistry and read it aloud at breakfast while prospective students Shark, Squirrel and Tiger are disadvantaged by Shreddies.

3. Repeat, endlessly, Gosh! Chemistry is really great! This is fascinating! Wow! Would you like to find out more? Shall we do a project on acid? That would be great! Say all these things a lot until Gritlets give in. If after two days they have not given in, play emotional card. Weep and threaten school.

4. Start project book. This is a very important piece of recording equipment in the Grit household. First, do brainstorming task. Write down Squirrel's ideas about Chemistry. She thinks up perfume and glue. Good start. Lie to Shark and say really it is a project on fish. Tell Tiger it is OK to draw pictures of a bottle of bleach but it is not OK to hide in cupboards because I will hunt you down and shake a school uniform at you, now come out and tell me what you know about oxygen. Anyhow, chances are you know a damn sight more than me.

5. Drag out of the cupboard along with Tiger the chemistry set bought at the charity shop five years ago for £1.50. Very quickly discover why it was in the charity shop for £1.50 but the book on experiments with flour, sugar and lemon juice is handy. Do those instead.

6. Armed with a little knowledge, determine to become a professional chemist. Convince self that Gritlets are already undergraduate level thanks to Squirrel parroting magic formula H20 after only small amount of coaching.

7. Research on Wikipedia. Print out 5,000 pages on Potassium Nitrate, Calcium Acetate, Chlorides, E104, E123, E110 etc etc. Apply new information immediately in real life contexts by shouting offputting knowledge about inflamed intestines in the middle of Tesco while scrutinising food additives on tins of baked beans.

8. Claim that Squirrel is a kinetic learner and must be educated appropriately. Create bizarre physical games which no-one understands and play them in the front room. Like I am a gas molecule and must hide behind the sofa until Squirrel, as temperature, must climb over the sofa and I can sublimate. Do the same for other half-understood concepts and hope that no-one is peering through the curtains. But the news is Squirrel decides she now likes Chemistry and draws this:

9. Success! Given small encouragement from Squirrel, whip out all credit cards. Buy ingredients for bath fizzies, lip salve, soaps and bath salts on the basis that they are all chemicals. Thrash around for several weeks rejoicing in the fact that there is no health and safety risk assessment to be completed after what we did with the citric acid.

10. Make bomb site of house. Literally. But this is essential. Any project round here involves spreading stuff over the floor, including citric acid.

11. Take a break from Chemistry while the vacuum cleaner is mended. Try something else instead. Atomic Physics. We don't know anything about that either. Give it a couple of months and go back to Chemistry because now Michelle is enthusing about the Royal Institution. Copy her. She seems to know what she's doing.

12. The RI is very good for chemistry is it not? They have a singing periodic table.

Visit and hog it. Totally. If challenged, declare pompously, We are home educated. This confers automatic rights of access over the singing table and justifies pushing small kids out the way. They are just wasting time whereas we are actively learning and mama is taking photographs to bloody well prove it for the local education inspector.

13. Find all Chemistry is Fun websites by scouring everyone else's blog. Become converted and consider we all take degrees in chemistry. Demand that if anyone is doing anything on the computer, it should include a mad scientist, an exploding balloon and the words hydrogen and helium.

14. Sniff out and attend all science workshops with any non-crazy home ed group within a 50 mile drive.

15. Bring all topics back to chemistry in any way possible. Cake. Call that chemistry. OK. So last week cake was maths and the week before it was architecture but now it is chemistry. No-one can prove me wrong.

16. Become an evangelist for this book. Carry it everywhere. Read it aloud on trains. For maximum impact, ensure there are captive well-behaved children and the words home educated delivered smugly.

17. Make a big periodic table for the wall which everyone has to help fill in. For each contribution, reward with chocolate. This is purely for visitors and any education is entirely coincidental.

18. Demand Shark, Squirrel and Tiger sit with the by-now-very-good and holy mama aka Chemistry Teacher. Bribe everyone with yet more chocolate to draw pictures and write things that they know about chemistry in the lovely project book. Said project book (which everyone knows is a crudely disguised record book and hostage to the state) is busting with Wikipedia entries, photographs, pictures of sad fish in chemically polluted rivers and a drawing of Anne Boleyn getting married because Tiger did it in the wrong book.

19. But feel good about Chemistry! See how well this planning and recording stuff goes! Resolve to do exactly the same procedure for the History of Textile and Atomic Physics.

Now, while I attend to the matter of the bald cat and evil stare, I can luxuriate in the knowledge that in some valleys of home ed land, I am probably public enemy number two*.

* I am content. But Mr Badman & co, I am warning you, you should all look to your laurels.


Katherine said...

Gritty! this is wonderful, and exactly as I used to home educate! Now my children know enough about chemicals to laugh over this:

Your might call it 'English', get out a big dictionary and take turns to find out what these 'rejected' elements really mean.

Rubberbacon said...

Well Grit, I didn't know who Anne Boleyn was at 9 years old nor did I take a Chemistry class until 2nd year of high school but do the gritlets know of Davy Crockett?

sharon said...

I have a topical project to cover nearly everything on the - excuse swearing - curriculum. Hot Cross Buns! We have for your delictation:- Science (yeast reaction), Maths (weights and measures), Home Economics (cookery and shopping for ingredients), English (reading the recipe and instructions then writing a review on the finished product),Art (piping the crosses or an alternative on top), History and Geography (when and where the tradition began, where the various ingredients originate) and also a side dish of Religion if you wish to indulge! If you sold some you could add Business Studies/Commerce to the list. Or you could just eat them. Hope you are having fun whatever you are up to ;-)

Gill said...


I think, in our past, I've got as far as: "Cake. Call that chemistry. OK. So last week cake was maths and the week before it was architecture but now it is chemistry."

Wait no, we (ssshhh) did have a periodic table on the wall once ;-) (But I don't think anyone ever looked at it.)

The Gossamer Woman said...

You must know a lot more than you let on, or learn a lot in the process and that must mean you're smart! As in, "I get it!" Not all of us are made of that caliber, Grit. Your girls are lucky that you are. And full of imagination.

Ruth said...

Personally if it has to be a cat I'd go for the original Dr No version because the bald one is just TOO ugly. But, me being me, I think I'll have a chicken as my world domination pet because it can do the evil stare too :-)

The RI looks cool, we'll have to add it on to a London museum trip soon since the NHM and Science Museum are getting to be a bit old hat and that periodic table looks like fun!

Ruth said...

LOL O.K I confess I have the book you linked. I also have a science blog. However the boys have never written in a "project book" in their lives and, as of yet, we do not have the Periodic table on the wall but only cos we have a few hundred history timelines lol.

mamacrow said...

Love love love that periodic table book, has gone straight on my wish list at amazon!

periodic table poster on wall - guilty as charged :)

for the record - I DID know who Anne Bolyn was at 9, but that was nothing to do with school (didn't get to henry viii till 11ish) and everything to do with the amount of E Nesbit I read, having older sisters to ask random quesitons of and having one of those fab kings of history posters that took up nearly the whole of one (large) bedroom wall.

hm, wonder if my mum still has it?!

Grit said...

hello folks and thank you for your comments. there are a lot of good home ed ideas here! school didn't teach me about anne boleyn, but my mother did, and gave me a much better grasp of ideas about scorned women, pregnancy out of marriage, men, power and folly than i would ever have gleaned from class 3G.

mamacrow said...

wow, your mum sounds very interesting!

greensleaves always makes me cry... supposedly for/about Anne Bolyn, (yeah that's probably a load of rubbish but hey, leave me with my illusions) it's so hauntingly beautiful, such a supreme love song...

beauty is so fleeting, huh.

Coding Mamma (Tasha) said...

This sounds wonderful. My home education was very timetabled (through my choice - I basically wanted to be at secondary school so timetabled what I thougt it would be like) and much of what I learnt came from textbooks. But my mum did insist on keeping part of the timetable for free learning, projects and outings, so I did get some of that, too.

I've always liked the concept of holistic learning - which I imagine as going off on whatever tangents takes your fancy and fulfilling parts of the curriculum naturally rather in an enforced nature. Sharon's hot-cross buns fits into that.

Anyway, fascinating stuff. I'm very impressed.

Woman with a Hatchet said...

This? This is all kinds of awesome!