Friday, 23 April 2010

One place, two worlds

You should know this. Whenever we home educating hordes take our offspring to a museum, gallery, discovery centre, we grubbers and bumscratchers behave like we own the place. Which, for most of the places we go, we kind of do, because we are part of this nation, and these places belong to us.

You see? There's that attitude again. I can't help it. Don't blame me. It's what we're used to. It's a knowledge of our rights.

We expect to be there for at least five hours. We expect to be able to talk at length with the staff, move freely about the place, stop where the kids like to write, draw, talk, and pay discount rates as well, because yeah, we're home educated, and the entry fee need not be as expensive as you think.

But we have this attitude, right? We have it because we have this sense of entitlement, and when we visit these places, we enjoy it, and good things happen. That's our experience.

Of course we try to be understanding and not show too much of the smugbastard.

OK, the CCTV cameras might catch us rolling our eyes and tutting when the school party comes round. We watch the crocodile-delivered kids do the supervised ten minutes in the gallery, be herded up, shouted at, and moved on for the next 60 kids to roll in behind. If they didn't see the art, tough luck. The buses leave at 2.30.

The exact time in fact that home educators breathe a big sigh of relief because we've still another couple of hours before closing time, maybe to look round, ask the staff to explain points of interest, join a workshop, do more talking, watch the edutainment video again, and play in the picnic area.

So I have to say that we get used to this lifestyle.

Until now. Because we take a tour to Bletchley Park where we are labelled as a school party.

Did this come as a shock? I am still bandaging my wounds.

Do you school choosing people really put up with this? We are met at the gates with armed clipboards and jackboots, told we are late, that everything is our fault and maybe we started World War II. On that matter, they'll check on their clipboards and get back to us. Then we are frog marched to our designated places and these are the rules and you do not disobey the rules and where is your sticker? We all must wear stickers. No exceptions. And they must be visible at all times and we must go here and here and here because the schedule says so and yes, by the way, it was all our fault.

And no-one said Welcome.

But as home educators we know Bletchley Park. And we love it. Shark, Squirrel and Tiger have been annual pass holders. They have spent happy hours running between huts, learning about ancient computers, following trails, watching old ladies nod off in visitor chairs.

Worse then, for us, because today we are a school group, and everything changed. I am not saying the sessions were not kind to the children, nor run efficiently. They were, and pitched at the right level by gentle, knowing speakers. But the organisational attitude changed towards us, and expectations lowered. People felt we had to be managed, ushered, controlled, monitored, supervised. We were separated from normal society, from other visitors, and we needed to be given orders because the assumption was, that whatever happened next, we were sure to break the rules.

So I would just like to suggest that if your child goes on a school-booked visit anywhere, ask what would they have done, if they had space, and time, and leisure.

Then book a weekend visit and go see the place properly.

Yes, the treatment brought out the juvenile delinquent in me.
I stuffed my sticker down my front
in the hope that I would be challenged by The Clipboard Law.
Then I could legitimately pull down my vest and expose my bosom.
Ahem ... One more thoughtful than me
might consider how schools construct the antisocial
behaviour they simultaneously condemn.


HelenHaricot said...

lol at stickers. SB went on a brownie zoo visit, and was horrified about how little they saw, and they all had to look at the same thing at the same time. crazy! i told her she was lucky not to have had a worksheet. tho she enjoys having them when we go round, it isn't with the expectation she should see things in that order, or even to fill it in. just that they can be interesting [like at hampton court, or the little place in france where a barely english speaking french lady refused my poor translation to go round with sbb and a worksheet in french to help her with smiles, points and gesticulations - and they both appeared to be loving it]

Grit said...

stickers! they are a nightmare. tiger won't wear one at all. i think she has a phobia about them. maybe i should not have said they are really price labels.

HelenHaricot said...

BB doesn't wear hers either, so i put it on her coat, that is draped over my bag - lol! the worst was the sealife centre that wanted to stamp her hand tho. uckilly the piercing shriek made them back off and hand me a card which they stamped - for what value i am uncertain!
giggle to the price labels tho. i just think a tattooed barcode on forehead and be done with it.