Sunday, 27 September 2009

Of course I worry about my sanity

Because I am a paranoid nut-case I often stray into websites and documents designed for paranoid nut cases, like the Education Act (1996) or guidance to local authorities for dealing with parents who choose other forms of education than school. Or even the starting points to get myself informed about stuff affecting my daily life.

Sometimes I stray to the homes of other home educating bloggers, like the thoughtful lady behind Making it up or to the uber achieving manor house, a place pretty much of my aspiration and where I steal my home ed ideas.

And then sometimes I stray to stuff over here. Or here. Or here.

Sometimes I even have an eye on what the kids are expected to do in mainstream state primary schools, where all teachers are told to do the same stuff and not different stuff, like they do in my world. Hey, we may have to slip into that stream ourselves, like if I die, Dig pushes off to live alone in Hong Kong, or really if my kids choose it; we like to keep all our options open.

In that vein, we completed the junior SATs science papers a couple of years ago, and spent ages over questions which sounded like

Where does wool come from? Does it come from:
(a) sheep?
(b) motorway?
(c) tree?

I'm serious. Shark spent five days puzzling over questions in that style. Like, Where is the trick? They are trying TO CATCH ME OUT! There MUST BE a trick!

Meanwhile I have to take myself by the scruff of the neck and give myself a good shaking not to be appalled at the level that sort of question aspires to.

And then, because by now I am completely paranoid, what with being aware of the law, and the diversity, and the standardisation of learning all over this country, I sometimes wonder what it is to be a primary school teacher, so I stray into what skills you need.
Typical activities for all primary school teachers include:
teaching all areas of the primary curriculum
And now I am stuck, all over again. Because there is an issue for me, right there. How can any primary school teacher engage fully with all areas? Like, how can a primary school teacher speak with fluency, passion, and knowledge, on geography, history, literature, maths, physics, drama, computers, chemistry, visual art, other languages, other cultures...

And I guess the answer is, well, primary kids do not need to know these things.

So there is the second problem I have, and it's the primary curriculum. Like, who created the primary curriculum? Who decided what is important for kids to know? What's not important for them to know? Why aren't they important? Does the school curriculum reflect the things I feel are important for my mini citizens to know?

Well, no.

I would like Shark, Squirrel and Tiger to have a more well rounded education than can be offered in the state primary system. I want them to meet people who are enthusiastic communicators, who know the subjects they are talking about, who can inspire others in their subject with passion and energy.

Those people are so rare to meet. I guess we won't meet them in the primary classroom, not in all the range we want. Which is why I send the little grits down mines, up trees, into fields, over ditches; chasing after experts who know their stuff, who know how to make their subject come alive, and who know how to engender a love and interest, long after the cold, hard SATs statistics are dead and buried.

Thank you, Jill, the geologist, who took the gritlets to the field this weekend, showed them ice swept landscapes, mammoths trapped in the tundra, blasting winds, frozen soils, and the beauty of rock crystals hidden beneath our feet.

We know where to find the experts, and the curriculum we seek. It is in the real world, with love, passion and commitment.

And I guess if this blog continues to champion those, you can call me a paranoid nut-case anytime.


Theresa said...

You may be a paranoid nut-case, but you are an inspiring paranoid nut case.

Dani said...

"who created the primary curriculum? Who decided what is important for kids to know? "

I think it's very important for us to keep saying this. There is no generally accepted body of knowledge for children (or for anybody). Out of all the vast knowledge that exists, why is some civil servant better placed to pick some for my kids than they are themselves?

Angela said...

Our daughter has a four-year-old son who wants to KNOW things. He goes to the library and gets himself CDs on subjects like "the body" and then tells his mom at supper, "I can feel the potatoes fall down my gullet" and "now my red blood corpuscles are moving about!" His parents take him to visit fire brigadiers and policemen (who are always delighted at his precise questions) and when I walk with him down a city street, he stops at every working man to ask him what he is doing, and when we enter the Town Hall, he wants to meet the Mayor. How will such a boy cope with our school system (ours is not better than yours)?
Why do bureaucrats think they know what is good for children?
You are not a nut-case, Grit! Go and write a book, soon!!!

Grit said...

thank you theresa. i bet you're only saying that though because i am still refusing to die.

absolutely dani. chemistry, engineering, geology,oceanography ...all shoved off in a poxy corner of something called 'science' which seems to involve anything that didn't fit in english or maths. those interests are happily in our day and they come with a free poke in the eye to ed balls.

he sounds lovely, angela! here's wishing plenty of opportunity and time come his way once school is out!

Jax said...

I'm not sure I've ever been described as a thoughtful lady before, thank you :)

Michelle said...

I've never been referred to as uber. I like :-).

Michelle said...

I've never been referred to as uber. I like :-).