Tuesday, 1 June 2010

Don't expect coherence

Imagine being locked in a room with no windows and no doors and no furniture and no way out and no way in. And by the way, the room is pumped full of blurry foggyfog stuff. Then you have to build a fully-functioning scale model of a spaceship.

That is in my head right now.

This is how my planning starts. I have to wander about in the blurry vacant room, not even able to stare at the walls or the floor or the ceiling, and yet I have to create a plan. One that will work. Then I have to make lots of plans. On everything. And make everything work.

Sometimes it gets too much. I plan to have no plan. But that feels horrible too, and I despair.

I am in this twilight zone of home education. But I have been here before. I feel responsible for leading my kids around the world towards everything, including spaceships that work, yet I am in control of nothing. This is my home education fogland. If I try and lead the feral offspring too much anywhere, they go berserk, slap each other about, and we all get grounded. If I back off and don't lead them anywhere, they go berserk, slap each other about, and we all get grounded.

The strategy I adopt mostly is to start off at the beginning of each month and think ahead. What would the kids like to do and learn about? What I would like them to do and learn about? What do I feel they should do? What is useful, beautiful and valuable to learn about? What would I like to do, for myself?

The way through all this is usually that I plan some dates and events and, for other times, let the feral offspring do stuff on their own.

But this approach is frustrating too. Because inevitably, three different kids each want to do three different things on the same day at the same time. Sometimes involving the same pencil. Which means at some point in the month they will go berserk, slap each other about, and we all get grounded.

You can see why I think of this moment as the fogland. It's like a place I can't get out of. It all makes me ask questions like, Can kids have autonomy without violence? How much does sibling rivalry interfere with independence? Where should the balance lie, between autonomy, responsibility, independence, interdependence, and the sisterly ripping each other apart thing? Why do I know that at some moment I will be moved to yell that I am banishing all pencils forever from the house and they will all be put in a shed at the bottom of the garden and anyone who wants a pencil will have to sign a special book for pencil removal?

If only one tiny part of my mind could be occupied with these matters, that would be good.

Unfortunately, large parts of my head are completely submerged in these philosophical and educational issues, and for a few wasted and pointless days I will wander about, incoherently making noises and pathetically unable to complete any routine task, like slicing bread, drinking coffee, buying food, or even sitting passively down and watching Coronation Street.

At every moment my head sinks back into that lost and timeless fogland, otherwise called planning.

Frequently, I think of one question that, if I answer, might solve all others. But I must not ask that question. Logically, I know it won't solve anything. But it doesn't matter. Because some days, when the planning and the thinking and the fogland get too much, I would still like to ask, and answer it. And that question is, How do I make it all stop and get out?


Big mamma frog said...

And I thought having children the same age would make home ed easier...

All three of mine are constantly pulling in different directions and are at different stages of development, making any coherent planning of home education an impossibility.

Hang on. If it's impossible, then how come other home edders manage it? I want to know the SECRET.

Sugarplum Kawaii said...

You are one brave woman and i admire you.
I would go nuts and turn to drink after a week of home educating my 3 lovelies...it would be utter chaos. Plus the fact that although i have a fair command of the English language, i can't spell nuffink without checking a dictionary...i'm utterly ashamed by it. I have to ask my eldest how to spell half the time!

Clare said...

You could try force-feeding them 'Making brothers and sisters best friends'... haven't read it, but Americans seem to like it! ;)

sharon said...

Invest in triplet-sized straight-jackets? It will stop the fighting at least ;-)

Clare said...

Grit - I totally relate to this post. So much angst from planning, and then suddenly it dawns on me that, despite (because of?) my chaotic home educating, my children know loads, ask intelligent questions, are interested in things etc. etc. - all the things I want them to be and do. I wish I trusted in it more :-(

Big mamma frog - I have a theory that some bloggers only blog about the good stuff, and when I blogged (which I did for years) I was careful to blog the bad stuff too. I am so grateful for Grit's honesty on her blog. It makes you realise you're not a crap mum because you lose your temper and get the wobbles and wish you'd never heard anything about home education and could have just carried on following the crowd.

Grit said...

thank you for your comments people. i am the same as anyone else, and the home ed thing is in many ways neither here nor there. i would still angst about stuff if we had chosen school.

and i am very glad you like the blog. it is always fun to write.