Friday, 5 June 2009

Come to your own conclusions about oddball

Some people say home educators are a minority bunch of oddballs spilling off the fringes of society.

I cannot understand that point of view at all.

Anyway, today I take Shark, Squirrel and Tiger to a brownfield site to look at some broken up tarmac.

This is one of those walk-and-talks in a field that Grit is so good at gatecrashing. It is led by Derek, ecologist, and he's accompanying a group of wise ancients to this industrial landscape to find out what grows on land blasted by gravel extraction and asphalt dumping.

The gritlets bound alongside him like puppydogs, exploring what's under rocks, how far you can push a car key into an oily slick of asphalt and whether flag iris send out perfumes.

Of course to the home educator this makes perfect sense. On our two-hour exploration we discover that quarried holes filled with water draining quickly from asphalt dumps make fish-free ponds and perfect breeding grounds for wildlife otherwise gobbled up by finny fiends.

Newts live here, as do damselflies and dragonflies. They attract the birds in a small ecological haven. We discover brownfield sites are preferred areas for lichens, orchids, invertebrates, sprouting elms, hazels, watermint, wild strawberries, thistles, iris and grasses. Undisturbed waste sites carefully managed to reintroduce grazing by animals yield rare and delicate native flowers.

All this we learn today, and more. We smell the air, feel the difference to our bones walking on asphalt, clay and gravel, taste the watermint and longingly eye the tiny red beads of wild strawberries. Over the two hours we enjoy the company of someone from whom all questions are answered carefully, thoughtfully, and knowledgeably. Derek is our teacher and this land is our school.

We contemplate learning a different way to this. Perhaps dressed in grey and white and staring at a black and white photo of a brownfield site while a cover teacher whose expertise is Maths, and probably not Ecology, intones that the work set is Read the passage about the land and answer the multiple choice below.

Like I say. Make up your own mind.


Maternal Tales said...

It's only in this country that people see home education as rather off the wall - in the States it happens everywhere - but we're always slow on the uptake so we'll get there eventually. I think my daughter would adore home education - especially what you're talking about - she loves this sort of exploration. However, I think I might go slightly insane if I didn't have a is that for you? Do you have time off??

Grit said...

hi MT and welcome! yes, things in the land of home ed are tough sometimes and i would not deny that. it depends where you are in the uk and the attitudes of the local authority. in brighton i think there is a pretty strong network and positive relations with the LA. (someone correct me there if i'm wrong!) there is massive support too on the internet. with kids schooled age 4 and earlier it is not surprising that at least a year out in the primary years is seen as a positive contribution to a child's all round education. we continued because we wanted to travel without asking permission, and we are awkward. it takes imagination and flexible thinking to step outside the box, and that applies to managing your own time off as well as an approach to a child's education. all i can say is that it can be done, and it can be fun.

did someone pass me a soapbox there?

sharon said...

Always at your best in a field Grit!

We have had quite a bit of rain recently and tiny frogs appear on the windows in the evening...must get some books to tell me what sort they are. I do know they are traveling at least a kilometre from the nearest water source.

kellyi said...

So well put.

We do lots of field work, and I have noticed that not only do they absorb more but they are also fit little buggers. It takes twice as long to wear them out now.

Rubberbacon said...

wow that sounds like a fun day, I'd love to find wild orchids

Katherine said...

Well, you Q.E.D-ed that end question. Not that you need to convince me - I'm the converted!

We're off to the art gallery today.

mamacrow said...

yeah, you shouldn't call it Home ed at your house Grit, you should call it field ed!

so far have Sussex LA to be totaly fine.