Tuesday, 15 June 2010

And now, I can't make it matter

I have very thick skin. So thick, I can hammer nails into my left hand and not feel any pain.

OK, I might try that trick later. Sometime when I have the emergency ambulance on standby.

Perhaps I should say, for this family lifestyle choice, there are moments when I need a thick skin.

My skin needed to be very thick today, when I wandered into a discussion on home education on a teacher's site.

There I was, happily and naively clicking from one chemical name to another, innocently researching how much borax we can digest before we die, then I arrive at a teacher site, stop, and read. My mouth fell open. The room may have started spinning.

I can deal with crude invective. Because I already got there ahead of you. Yes. You want idlepigtrotternosegit? I declare myself your best candidate. You want stinkingtosspothippie? I'm your woman. And I have a fat arse.

It isn't the abuse. I can handle the abuse.

It is the uninformed ignorance that makes my mouth open wide and my bottom jaw crash to the floor. A forgiving bit of me does not want to believe the words I read are typed out from the hands of a professional educator. One who has the specific job of widening the horizons of children under their care.

At that point, I need a thick skin more than anything. Because my first instinct is to cry with the outrage. I am uncomprehending, and what I read is so unjust. I am human, after all.

My next instinct is to square my jaw and swear. Really, serious, bitter blasphemy that turns my lips blue, rots my tongue and, once wind borne, peels lead from the Church roof.

To do my worst, I would need drink. It loosens my tongue and unhinges my fingertips. I consider signing in to the discussion and unclasping my knuckles. But I would sound irrational, and then prove everyone right.

Then I read some more, and now I want to laugh. Utterly, deeply and profoundly. Mockery is more satisfying, and this professional educator just proved themselves worth it.

But as I think about it, then I feel sad. I don't need a thicker skin. Because I understand. I see where they're coming from. I too have endured. I survived Crusher with the rusty spanner in Class 4H. I know the solitude of the classroom teacher. It is a heavy burden to bear. Any ordinary teacher can be driven to madness. And certainly to a deep and destructive seething envy of home educators.

This poor soul wants home educators to fail. He despises the way we can roll out of bed at 10am and take our class of three kids out for the day. And no need to ask permission for that! No risk assessment forms, no targets, no clipboards, no frisking for knives. The knowledge that we can join a history workshop in a local museum, arrange a sports day, decide to meet up later for the science talk, arrange the cinema outing and, on the way home, drop the kids off for their wildlife club, must corrode a once-fine intellect, like acid slowly etching metal.

But doesn't it get worse? The way, if we choose, we can slouch around in pyjamas all day long, read and share books we like, play music we want to hear, and talk about the news? That must eat away a man's soul.

And how this tortured being must writhe in anguish at our long lunchtimes and the way we can just go pee without putting up our hands, or waiting till the bell goes!

Yes. It all makes sense. Bound by rules, regulations, routines, and The Bell. The heavy tolling bell. Hour on hour on hour. He can never enjoy such freedom as we.

So for this reason now I think kindly. I think we home educators need to make his life better.

Let us tell the very worst of home education. The pitfalls and problems, the despairs and the humiliations.

Like at Grit's, today. We were nearly late for the French class. I decided not to sign up for the trampoline lessons. I had to talk to someone I didn't like in the after school club. Tiger refused to draw a diagram of the ear. So I made up a song about a drum, a semi-circular canal, a cochlea, and a Eustachian tube. And just to best her, I shamed myself and sang it, all the way home.


Kestrel said...

The worst humiliation of being a home educator is that my children still get NITS gnaraghgh.

Sugarplum Kawaii said...

I know someone who home educates her children....i saw her at the swimming pool last week and she told me how her 2 boys had spent the afternoon gardening at the allotments. It sounded blissful. I saw another woman raise her eyes and tutt. She muttered something along the lines of 'It's not the real world for those sort of kids.' Puerile jealousy for sure.

Big mamma frog said...

I had sensitive thin skin before home educating, but it has certainly toughened up over the past few years!

I can (mostly) cope with strangers' ignorant or prejudiced ramblings about home education (a few days of seething fury usually fixes it). I try to think of 'understanding home education' as a long journey that these people haven't set out on yet. I see it as my job to kick-start them on that journey, but it would be unreasonable to expect them to change their whole mindset in an instant.

It's much harder when I hear stereotyped and prejudiced comments
from long-term friends, comments that make it obvious they know nothing about home education or how my family functions. Then it's almost more than I can bear.

Angela said...

You make me laugh everytime I come, Grit. And nod. Yes, it must be a real hard life for a devoted teacher to bear with "school-bureaucracy" as it happens every day. But why can`t school change for the better instead of envying those who try to make learning FUN for children? For so many it is a life-crushing drag! I never wanted to become a school teacher, but I love to teach children. Like you!

MadameSmokinGun said...

I firmly stick to my all-encompassing attitude when meeting these types - I say 'Oh we don't bother going' They are usually speechless - and then I laugh in their faces. They realise that they can't actually argue with someone who simply won't bite and who is obviously a nutter. Works every time.

sharon said...

Or you could just say that your children are privately educated and walk away with your nose in the air!

kellyi said...

I don't offer an explanation unless asked these days.

I feel the public tide turned against us a little bit over the whole HE review period.

I think jealousy does play a part - some people don't like to see others enjoying themselves....sad but true.

Grit said...

yes kestrel! i am touching wood now, but we have not had an attack for some time. eek. i know the words are out my fingerends and i am doomed!

not the real world? that is FANTASTIC sugarplum. please forgive me if i steal that line.

big mamma, you are right. we are mostly left alone. dig says it is because people are scared when they see me coming, and so don't question me, not at all. i cannot believe that. can you?

hi angela! i loved teaching because i worked directly with children, whom i found refreshing, clear, engaging, interesting. unfortunately, i hated schools. so i wasn't a very good teacher.

mme sg, the nutty image is certainly one i would like to cultivate. but maybe if i am scary, you are nutty, we could find a posh and a sporty and make a home ed girl band of us, no?

i've tried that sharon, but i have to say we do not exactly look well-turned out, polished, well-bred ladies deserving school fees of 30K a year. there is something about us rabbled ways that tells the contrary...

i think you are right, kelly. i think it was evident home ed is all sorts of people having fun, rich or poor, and doing well; but not buying our way to life satisfaction, and maybe we needed punishing for that.

for now, i will just have to be a martyr to the pain.