Sunday, 25 April 2010

Grit's guide to politics with kids. Rule 1.

It's no good, is it? I have to talk about it. The general election. Because Grit, like most smug home educating bastards, must seize this moment. I must grasp this stingingnettle opportunity.

Yes. I must now teach the little grits about politics.

I bet you'd like to think, given that we home educating types are brainwashing hothousing childabusing zealots*, that teaching my kids about politics means threatening them with rope and shouting Vote for the green-flavoured dope-smoking hippies or I tie you to the radiators again you little grits.

Unfortunately, the little grits run fast when they see the rope. They also, like most home ed kids, take no notice of a pointless parental unit like me, especially on matters which fall into the category called make up your own mind. Worse, these small opinionated people are by now thoroughly deinstitutionalised and completely individualised. Which means they roll out of bed with their own ideas on how they're going to run the planet.

Let's hope then you and me are in a spaceship heading for ZeltaMinor, that's all I'm saying, because some of those planet running ways include forced consumption of pasta and compulsory horse kissing.

Anyway, like most kids, my little grits combine a total certainty about the way to run a planet with their rights over who sits where at the breakfast table and who's not wearing mama's old cardigan again. They then mix this opinionated mishmash with a bunch of half-baked ideas sprinkled with half-arsed questions. Like Why can't conger eels rule the world? and What would happen if Gordon Brown ate only helium?

But this is where any Parent-Teacher comes in, and this is politics with kids Rule Number One that I can share with you, lovely thisfar-reader.

In fact, now I'm in full rhetorical mode, I'll don my best public service hat and tell you that these are my hard-earned wisdoms. Indeed I gladly pass them on to you, if you are looking to seize this election moment too, and educate your offspring in the ways of the world political.

Rule one. Answer all the questions about Gordon in a frock.

Yes, all the questions. Every one. You must answer them. No matter how pointless, stupid, and annoying.

In fact, this is how I teach anything, if you can call it teaching. Well OK, I don't. I listen to the questions asked by my little grits Tiger, Squirrel and Shark, and I answer them, as best I can. Sometimes my answer is, I do not know, I never thought about that, then I follow it up with Let's find out, and the consequent printing of fourmillionwikipediapages and the purchasing of 65 books on Amazon. After three weeks I can legitimately say It is all more complicated than I thought.

Now I know we don't have time for that, because there is an election to decide. But it is in this spirit that we approach the election with kids. They ask questions, we think up answers, and we all talk about it round the breakfast table, or at the side of the radiator if anyone's feeling uncooperative.

Fifteen minutes in and you may find that small offspring are filled with questions like Why is he doing that? What is he talking about? These are good questions and if we are going to join the great enterprise of educating the nation's youth in matters political, the answer must not be Shut up and eat your tea.** A bit more time and they are offering opinions like He would look stupid in a dress and He's not making me eat peas for anything. This is all good stuff, and round here we professionals call that engagement.

Now, that is Grit's fantastic Rule Number One.

I bet you can barely contain yourself for Rule Number Two.

*Balls, your crimes aren't forgiven.

**All you experienced home educators are rolling your eyes now, aren't you? Because of course you detect I have succumbed to that home ed crime of twisting everything the offspring say just to the subject I actually want to them to talk about. So Squirrel will casually say Gordon Brown would look better in a frock, and I will say Yes Squirrel, Gordon Brown would look better in a frock. And it is a jolly silly thing in our society that he cannot do that if he wants. Now let's talk about citizenship, autocracy and monarchy from the point of view that all men including Gordon Brown and the Duke of Edinburgh should be free to wear frocks, if they want.


loubeeloo said...

hahahaha.... awwww please stoppit! it hurts.... gordon in a frock! hehehehehe! xx

Rachel M. said...

that was awesome, standing by for next 9+ rules, you tend to write in sets of 10 and more :)

Grit said...

that's the intellectual level of debate round here loubeeloo. anything from here is a Big PLUS.

i might do the full 10 rachel, if i can get round to it before the actual election.

Anonymous said...

This is slightly off-topic, but do you compartmentalise teaching, or does it permeate throughout the day? All parent teach; at least they should, in my opinion, but I wondered if you had times when silliness was permitted without turning it in to an educational lesson. Oh bother, that's so clumsy and sounds as though I disapprove of something you do - I hope you can find some sense in what I'm asking & I will pop back to find out!

Michelle said...

@mtjam If I may step in here. My husband once grumbled at me, after I complained about a sing and dance Elmo my father had given to my young 5yo daughter as her birthday present; "Does everything have to have an educational value?"

Ummm. Yes.

Grit said...

hi mtjam. i cannot fully answer that in a comment. i guess the quick and easy answer is that all life is learning and we learn all from life.

we set our kids up to learn through their lives, not just from 8-3 Mondays to Fridays. school compartmentalises learning. we do not.

however, if i took the kids to visit a castle, sure at the end of the day i could say today we studied citizenship, history, languages, maths, architecture. i can do that too, but it's usually for the ease of reference to a third party.

the children also tend to grow their own subjects; they find out the areas they are interested in pretty quickly and identify the disciplines they want to study. does that help?

Anonymous said...

It does answer my extremely clumsy question - yes, thank you. I was prompted to ask when a friend mentioned that I always seem to turn everything into a lesson. Everything seems to be an opportunity to count, or to spell, or to do our colours, or practice what being 'next to' and 'opposite' means... so I guess I just wondered if I was working my babies too hard! But they seem to thrive on learning,and are so proud when they get something right, so it surely does them good. I'm rambling, so I'll stop - I do love to read your blog, it always provokes thought :)