Thursday, 15 October 2009

That's not real life

Some folks, like the woman I spoke to recently, say home educated kids surely can't learn real stuff of life, like how to socialise with people, unless they're in school. Because only in school do you find all ages.

Some home educators say that nowhere else in life are you made to work all day alongside people the same age as you. An experience interrupted only to get beaten up in the playground by Kevin of 4G, kicked out of the computer room for setting the tables on fire again.

Can you imagine accepting as an adult what you have to accept as a child?

I'm sorry Miss Smith, but you are now aged 30, so you can only work with the 30 year olds in Room 8. And please do not complain about Kevin again. I can assure you the incident with the hammer is being dealt with by personnel.

Give me the freedom to choose, and I'll choose to dump my kids straight in with the daily option that provides all ages, thanks; we meet old Doreen at the Co-op, and Fliss, age six month, who visited us last week.

But if I'm in debate with someone about that dreaded s-word - socialisation - they might look at some point like they've caught me out. They say AHA! But what about all the faiths and cultures eh? You clearly can't have those in your cocoon of a middle class cushion!

Then they have that smug look that suggests now they got me. Confess it, you measly-weedly Grit. You keep the kids at home to indoctrinate them with your cosy world view which, if you haven't already guessed, is narrow, bigoted and ignorant.

Yesterday we travelled to London with a group of home educating families to visit Irene White. Irene's aged 92. She told us her story about what it felt like to be growing up in Germany in the 1920s and 30s. She arrived a Jewish refugee in England via Palestine just before war broke out.

After we'd found out about Irene's life, Jewish heritage, family life in England, and eaten a kosher lunch with extra portions of latkes, we were invited to the local synagogue, where the Rabbi talked about Jewish beliefs, celebrations and history.

That visit to the synagogue joins others we have made. Shark, Squirrel and Tiger have toured a Sikh Gurdwara with a young man of happy eyes and welcoming smile; they've visited the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Northampton, led by an old man whose skin faded into the colour of every ancient stone; we've visited the Buddhist temple at Milton Keynes to be feted by warm smiles, hot tea and kind faces. We've visited with other people everytime; other home educators, other children, other citizens.

But I got to thinking after my recent argument, not that she was right, or even she deserved that black eye, but how you rarely see Shark, Squirrel and Tiger on this blog in the company of others.

That's probably because we are all made hyper sensitive in this world to the chastisements and rights of others. And of course, we are all now slaves to the fear of Mr Spooky from the corner. I'm sure he's hanging round the back of this internet connection right now waiting to pounce on my innocent child's face.

Well, you may start seeing other bodies. Like backs of necks, bits of limbs, tops of heads, halfsides, eartops and foottails. Unless those other home ed parents hunt me down and kill me. So far they've just shrugged, and said, Why are you bothering to ask? Click away.

I think maybe it's time to push back a bit on that little piece of arsewisdom - that home educated children cannot socialise.

Lady, call it a mission to socialise you.


The Green Stone Woman said...

I think it's very sad that you have to defend every aspect of your chosen life. I'm sure there are a lot of kids in all sorts of exclusive schools who are never exposed to people of other social classes or cultures and nobody seems to bother about them. I'm thinking even of kids that go to village schools and who have very limited exposure to others outside their relatively small world.

kellyi said...

I hate the socialisation issue too. My children have a better social life (a real one, not one made of going to a strangers birthday party because they share the same teacher) than they every did in school.

Some people though, will never believe that a child can have a social life other than that of a school child. Their loss really :(

Angela said...

I would have loved to be Nr. 4 in your group, Grit. And not in my girls` school with old dried Miss Fink and Miss Priess and Miss..., and Miss... who knew nothing of other cultures, or men, or tools, or modern literature, or art, or anything, and whose classmates of mine were exclusive and eating salmon every day and wearing better clothes than I had. With my curiosity I would have LOVED to be home-educated by you! But in Germany it is not even allowed, and so I had to do it after school with my children. But this way they always knew MORE than any of their resticted classmates! And are now both compassionate, wonderful women. Don`t feel bad, Grit, just go on!

Potty Mummy said...

What the green stone woman said, Grit. And she's so right, that we're having to move country to give our kids a wider world view! (Well, not really, but you get the point)

Baz said...

I don't think I ever visited any places of worship at school. I did go to Ely Cathedral at Uni, but that was to study the acoustics...

Grit said...

hi nora, i think you make a good point. really, i believe the government is trying to get these powers through with a home educated minority because the next step is right of entry to all homes where there is a child under-5. but to say this sounds like i'm a conspiracy theorist, doesn't it? then we're discounted. but i feel that's the direction these recommendations point. we have a birth-5 curriculum in this country; at what point can it be claimed this is 'delivered' at home by the parent who becomes for the purposes of that curriculum delivery, the 'home educator'?

kelly, let's lay the myth to rest. we can do that!

angela, you are always so very kind and supportive! thank you! we have been aware how difficult it is to home educate in germany and the extent to which the government pursues people who try. i fear we are experiencing here in the uk a europe-wide tightening on all home educators.

thanks pm! i keep saying thank you, don't i? and i mean every one.x

hi Baz! i work from the starting point that whatever is done in school, we can do one better. actually, that's probably not difficult with a local school we didn't choose. the one that just emerged from special measures and threat of closure. even the grit school for ladies can probably do one better than that.

valerie said...

Hi Grit, I am loving your blog.

Sent by Trevor, Father of trips in Perth.


Grit said...

welcome, valerie!

mamacrow said...

I had never heard the word 'socialzation' untill I started letting people know we were taking the kids out of school and home edding.

and then only from other parents.

and then pretty much from parents of families where both the parents have full time jobs and the kids are in all the school clubs and breakfast clubs and summer school clubs etc... you get my drift!