Saturday, 14 March 2009

When a butterly flaps its wings, the entire planet grinds to a halt

When we stepped outside the school system, we were liberated.

I'd recommend that feeling. You are no longer cursed with finding the right clothes, falling out of bed at the right time, or packing the right lunch in case the lunch police snoop inside your sandwich box.

Better still, you no longer need to covertly complete your child's homework, or labour for hours to discover if your child has any homework, nor lose letters, report cards, log books or be banged repeatedly around the head by an endless whining about jewellery, trainers, haircuts and skirt length. And, at the end of term, for this pleasure do you stump up for a coach visit to a museum where your child comes home, grunts boring in answer to your question Was it good? and then delivers to you the sum total of his afternoon's attention spent in the gift shop: a rubber egg.

I can tell you the liberation is huge.

But there is, once outside the school gates, plunged into the world of home education, this enormous feeling of responsibility.

I don't recommend that feeling. It can induce heart attacks, migraine, constipation and IBS. It can lead you into direct conflict with your offspring and cause shooting pains in your ears when they squeal. It can feel like you are towing around behind you a couple of dead donkeys on some string.

Worse, it can change your entire personality. You may turn you into a household dictator, don brown shirts and jackboots, and march over the front room in the cause of some wooden blocks which everyone must build up otherwise home education is a failure. Either that, or you may realise that force or coercion of any type of study is totally pointless and you will then sigh with longing at tie died smocks before dying your hair purple and buying comfortable sandals which you will never remove.

Somewhere in between those personality states, this feeling of responsibility will cause you to pack your dead donkeys and the kids into the car and drive at high speed to Cambridge Science Festival.

Here in pursuit of a science education, and because no-one else is going to do it if you don't, you will dress up as bees, pollinate flowers and enthusiastically remember all the girl and boy bits of flowers in the right order.

Then you will learn about thermoplastics and how usefully they make wonky badges.

And by the time you get past the oxides, robots and hydrogen, you will have to listen to Shark going on and on about uplift, wing dimension and air pressure, and how it can be demonstrated in this cardboard box.

By now - although this particular description skims over your head - you will feel supergood, because this dreadful responsibility, the IBS, and the dead donkeys are all fast disappearing. Hugh Hunt helps, because under his tutelage we also find out how boomerangs work.

Then we arrive at the zoology department. Now here is a lecture on electricity. It starts in 15 minutes. I've scheduled it all out. Lecture here, pop to Earth Sciences. Catch the end of the dinosaur trolley then leg it to Chemistry. Quick Squirrel Quick! Finish your paper butterfly! We must go to this lecture!

No! cries Squirrel. No! No! No! I must stick glitter on the wings!

No! Squirrel! Come now! There is a lecture on electricity!


And so this single butterfly upset my science timetable, returned the dead donkeys to my anguished soul, brought back the whole global responsibility for a science curriculum back to my burdened heart, gave me IBS, and caused me to have a big sweaty fit in front of the man exploding water rockets.

Like I say, this feeling of responsibility, I do not recommend that at all.


The Finely Tuned Woman said...

Still, you do it and you keep hanging in there. There must be something to it? Is it a Renaissance education?

Grit said...


Rubberbacon said...

Your part about the purple smock and comfortable sandals reminds my of my art teacher in junior college. She told us in her college days she had worn the same purple outfit every day for two years. I never looked at her the same - but she was the most creative art teacher I've ever had!

Mr Farty said...

Nevertheless, it is a beautiful butterfly.

I recommend A Sound of Thunder by Ray Bradbury.

sharon said...

And said butterfly obviously doesn't even need to be in the Amazon.

Sarah said...

Good grief! I can't even manage to get my donkeys to practice their writing and you manage all that? Hat and shoes off to you!

Grit said...

thank you folks for your comments. and i will check out that story, mr farty. pity the film sounds so crap although now i may have to watch it just for ben kingsley's hair.