Thursday, 11 June 2009

Thinking of home education?

I know some readers of grit's day send their kids to school. You are welcome to come here and realise why that is A GOOD IDEA.

Read Grit's tales of home educational mismanagement, disaster, triumph, despair, ambition and failure. And if you were in any doubt before about sending Tinkertop Moonbeam down the schoolie road, after a couple of days with me, school will seem like a fair do all round.

And you can come here safely, and laugh at our banana skin lifestyle. I won't attack your choice. I am not anti-school. Some children truly enjoy school and thrive there. For some, school offers a creativity, outlet and stimulation, perhaps differently or more than can be offered at home, no matter how loving that home is. For others, school is safe; they don't want to go a home that is not safe. I have taught in classrooms and seen these things first hand.

But for Shark, Squirrel and Tiger, I am anti-schools-the-way-they-are-for-us. I don't want to subject my three little aliens to what's on offer down our road: uniforms from age 4, homework, boring hours, pointless tasks, behavioural contracts, tests, defined and narrow learning, tick boxes, measurable goals, and a miserable government-imposed restriction on time for practical science, music, art, dance, creativity... all these things seem to me to take joy away from the wonderful, sparky, insane, spontaneous, upside-down world that rightly belongs to Shark, Squirrel and Tiger.

They wouldn't go to school anyway, let's face it. They are as bolshy as mama and papa.

We tried. We sent the gritlets to the school nursery. But Mama hated nursery because the teacher had nothing in her head that anyone could make sense of except a list of attainment targets, which she once made the foolish mistake of trying to hide under her hand when Grit walked in to collect her offspring. Tiger hated nursery more than she could say, but she could howl it. Shark hid in the toilets. Dig grew ten foot tall, ripped all his clothing off his body and turned green when it was suggested we might in future like to arrange for permission to be granted to take our children out for the day. Squirrel was Squirrel, went her own way, ignored all the rules, received a smack on the head and visited A&E. That combustible combination pretty much sealed the entrance door back to school.

For Dig, Grit and the little gritlets, home education has been a hard struggle of learning how to learn together. We think it's worth it. You should hear the negotiations and problem solving strategies that go on sometimes. You'd think you walked into a backroom at the United Nations where they are just sorting out that Arab-Israeli thing.

Outside the state system we are free to choose the best way of education. The kids play, grow, develop, build piles of soil, experiment with plaster of paris and then figure out together how to unblock the drains. Mama imposes some non-negotiable aspects of home ed, like reading, maths, science, French, eating green things and brushing teeth, so don't cross her on those. Together, so long as we cope with the triumphs and fall outs of home ed, we think we make a pretty decent family, although a little oddball in the lifestyle department.

Which is why the publication of this report, with its recommendations, is so hard to take.

This is a body blow to us, our way of life, a denial of the respect we thought was due to us for our choices, a betrayal. More, it has implications for every family in England, because it seeks to place the state as the decision maker in your child's education.

If you are seriously considering home education, fantastic. It may be the right thing to do for your child. It can be a thrilling family adventure. And don't be put off by Badman and Balls.

Because have you noticed what an amazingly strong, vigorous, confident bunch of people compose the home education world? We're not going to give that up.


Ruby said...

I think what you have written is inspiring, I am having one of those "off" days and felt quite rubbish but yes we are strong and happy and all have our ups and downs, thanks for making me smile.

Maire said...

Three at once, a real eyeopener.

mamacrow said...