Thursday, 24 June 2010

Maybe I already lost touch with normal

Today we return to stare at dead animals, in the Natural History Museum at Tring.

That's not odd, is it? It's for a workshop. I organised this one. And we're on time. How strangely satisfying and calming. That's odd. I may need to take sanctuary amongst the dead things again if it helps life go this smoothly.

It's a good group, and one of many groups that come together for visits like this. Small, medium, large. We're all stick shaped and roly poly.

We must look odd, arriving in bits, loafing around in sandals, flapping summer tee shirts to create some belly air, meeting by the polar bear. But it doesn't feel odd.

Today, we have a total of nine bodies for our workshop, mixed aged. The education room is small, so we all fit neatly. It feels right, and comfortable. I daren't imagine if they cram 30 in here, stacked one on top of another in regimented knee position; rebellion brewing at the back. Now, if you ask me, that's an odd way of learning things.

The workshop leader talks, easily, like she would in a small group discussion. We can stop her, ask questions, meander to another pathway and wonder about turtle logic. That's normal. I wonder how she'd react if these interruptions came out a large fidgeting group, where mutineering forces gathered and overseers hissed Shush! Listen!

Here, in this small, comfortable, engaged group, she can talk to each of us in turn, respond and speak without pressure. We pass round the bird bone, the glued turtle.

Normal, and not odd at all.

And then we know stuff! Phew! Isn't that something? These kids with their own paths have surprising, deep, pockets of sudden knowledge. How did they know that? Is that unusual? Do they teach this same stuff in the National Curriculum? Can kids at school share those strange other worlds they know so much about, without fearing mockery, worrying whether that knowledge was sanctioned, whether it came with a pass or fail?

How odd if they don't.

I know our world sometimes looks strange to an outsider. Our kids don't dress all the same, don't do all the same, don't know all the same. They don't compete on who knows what, who taught it, who passed it. They are just people, dressed for the day, enjoying knowledge, sharing ideas, talking and listening, passing round a snake skin.

Then, when the workshop's over, we do what we feel. That's normal. Isn't that what we all hope to do?

We mostly make it up, as the mood takes us and the weather calls. The kids picnic, run about the sunny field, chase butterflies, race each other between long and leaning lines of grass, then go pick strawberries, big sweet ripe ones, perfect for the day. We decide it's too hot, and are glad there's time for swimming, at the end of the day.

There. Normal.

1 comment:

Kestrel said...

There. Normal - sing it sister! I love it.