Sunday, 27 June 2010

Passing on life's values

The world is full of women like me. Women who are big, and I mean BIG, on family loyalty, family cooperation; but working together to find creative solutions for every individual family member blah blah blah.

With this approach, we generally produce offspring interested in the same.

Kids develop responsibilities quick. They become self-aware, cooperative, blah blah blah.

If you extend this old tie-dyed philosophy, it's possible you wander down the avenue of home education. It's a logical consequence of practical respect for the individual. Especially an individual who sobs I don't like school. To which the simple answer can be, Then let's find a path that suits you.

Even if your choice of alternative education batters the family, it's no big deal. You get to tell yourself that What won't kill it, makes it stronger. So now you win all round. You get to make moral lessons rise out of domestic chaos.

It's a slippery slope. Soon living in the desert and eating raw food won't seem quite so weird.

But there's a big problem with this approach to living. Your offspring become aware of learning. They take control over it. They see it as an individual expression. They expect you to support it, no matter where it goes. They treasure learning as a valuable resource. They take it as far as they can.

Sometimes, they want to learn from people who they perceive have particular skills to teach them. Not mamma with a book from the library. Mamma, your job now is to find these people.

Now you cannot persuade kids of any other way. They have no interest at all in sitting on some old bloke's lap in a bar for a fiver, building a lucrative page three career as the next orange girlfriend of a footballer, nor even for taking over household chores like the beer, chip and ciggie run on the way home from school. No. Now they have an idea about learning in their heads, and they won't let it go.

And the more you persuade these kids to do the decent thing and go set fire to an abandoned sofa down the back lane, the more they resist, and say no. They want to learn some craft from the seventeenth century.

Like lace making. Mamma, find me a lace maker.

Now I don't know about you, but I'm not walking down the streets, fighting off lace making teachers with big sticks.

It has taken me ten months to get hold of one. Not just any one. One who is willing to teach children this ancient finger art, comes equipped with a shed load of patience, and has a 500-page folder crammed with easy-teach patterns for fish, bracelets, bookmarks, butterflies and flowers.

And here she is. This is Granny. She's not our Granny, but I stake my claim on her for the duration of a two-hour lesson. She won't take money for her time, because she says that women and their ancient ways are important; that these skills need to be passed down from mothers to daughters, otherwise our skills will be lost, forever. And the passage of these skills is the mark of a coherent, civilized society. So what's going to happen when the world ends? Who's going to rebuild civilization then?

Lace makers, that's who.


katyboo1 said...

my mum has some beautiful lace bobbins. Do you want some for the girls? Let me know and I might be able to finagle a few from her.x

Maire said...

Fantastic, what a star!

MadameSmokinGun said...

I love that idea that the passing down of these ancient skills forms a civilized society. I am now desperately running through my list of skills I could pass on........

Think my family is destined to be forever feral. Unless catching coins flipped from your elbow is considered a useful skill. Don't think I'd attract many tourists if I sat outside my quaint house practicing my ancient art.

I now want to make lace! Thanks for adding another Want to my list. It can go in between building an igloo and playing the mandolin.

sharon said...

I can now boast of the advantages of my convent education - we had the opportunity to do lacemaking! Unfortunately the nun who taught it was amazingly old and retired before I made it to the top of the list for a cushion but the chance was there however briefly and I did learn filet lace which is done with a very fine crochet hook.

ruby said...

what you say is so true, my boys now wont go for the play outside on the street for half an hour thing anymore, it always has to involve some kind of bigger thing, now Im all for it but sometimes, just once in a while it would be nice if they did'nt think so much and just ran round like the dumbed down kids up the road!

Grit said...

hi katyboo! but do you not lace yourself, you mother's daughter?!

i feel every home educating parent needs a book of them, maire! since i am strapped for cash right now, i'll take mine gold plated.

and beermats, mme sg. i was always rubbish at flipping those. and balancing things on your nose. i would like to learn how to do those things, and juggle. maybe at the same time.

sharon, i am impressed that you can filet lace! there are lots of things to know i never heard before. (please don't tell tiger.)

ruby, it is no good, is it, telling the kids just to go out and play? they have to make a flippin roman ampitheatre out of mud, start running equine games, then call it a theatre and you have to watch all 3 acts. we need to stop stuff, like taking them to museums, reading books, and selecting educational web resources, eh?!