Monday, 18 October 2010

Everyday ordinary. Dismembered rats, competing ideologies and speculums

OK, back to a written record of home education.

I must write it down. I have a terrible memory. I may forget I have three kids if I do not write that down too.

I also have to write down the gruelling day by day practice, because I need to remember what hard work it can be, how fantastic it is, how much involvement we have in society and where our communities are. Then, when I am confronted by those who think home education is an opt out, a denial of society, a 'hiding away', I can say grit's day is my evidence. Go there.

There are other pragmatic reasons too, of course. The welcome you get, if you decide to live Ken Robinson's philosophy, means you can be stopped by the police and an EWO in Tesco and made to account for yourself. You can be sent a letter demanding to know whether you educate your kids, or chain them to the radiator. You can be doorstepped by an official thanks to a neighbour who sees your kids sauntering along Bash Street in their own choice of clothing at 11am on a Monday morning.

To arm myself against that sort of caring sharing way of seeing home educators, I need to have a quick access to the range of education I actually offer to my driblets of joy, Shark, Squirrel, and Tiger. I may need to write letters, argue my case, point to examples, show evidence.

My blog is also the place where I strong arm myself. I need to see my rights, injustices, failings, weaknesses, indignities, successes and triumphs for myself. A blog helps. You, lovely people, can tell me this isn't good enough, show me different ways of thinking, point me in new places. I didn't handle the police and EWO combination well last time. Next time, I want to face them better. I will, with your thoughts behind me. A public blog is a way of gaining personal perspective.

None of that is, in the longer term, affected by which country we're in today.

Which means I must take the little grits to the Hong Kong Museum of Medical Sciences, and I must write it down.

You would think that the tender little grits would be horrified by the visual display of medical gore, wouldn't you?

You would be right. We found the rat autopsy conducted by waxy effigies with shiny scalpels and glazed eyeballs, and the little darlings legged it.

But I did get them past the WHO Pandemic Alert System (levels 1-6). I steered them through Night Bright Arenaceous (medicine from bat shit). I just managed them past the examples of spinal deformities, bone clamps and callipers.

But not, sadly, the informative display on the 1950s Chinese government approved gynecological speculum. Only Squirrel, and she had her hands clamped over her face.

However, I will not say this museum did no good at all for our home education journey. It gave me a whole new perspective. I found informative panels which contrasted the philosophy which underpins traditional Chinese medicine with the medical philosophy of the West.

How the West falls short! You people, you wait until an individual shows visible sign of a disease, then you galvanise all your E-numbered chemical pills and potions with machines that go ping. You assault the individual until they no longer show distress, or they die.

Chinese medicine, by contrast, focuses on the well being state of us all; on our winds and our waters, on maintaining health, creating harmony, developing a social state of constancy.

There, I think, is my revelation. There is our home education. This is how it is done. I read those panels, go outside, and talk to Shark, Squirrel and Tiger about competing ideologies, political systems, the Chinese reaction to disorder, the culture of individualism in the West; the benefits and drawbacks of both.

All and everything in fact.

Except that the design of the speculum hasn't changed in centuries, and having one shoved up your doodah is possibly one of the most uncomfortable experiences you will ever have. No. I didn't tell them that.


Kelly said...

I have to tell you, Grit, that I have a lovely Chinese doctor, and by that I mean a doctor of Chinese descent who practices Western allopathic medicine. It is the best combo ever for my personal lifelong battle with hypochondria. When I go to his office, having diagnosed myself with several life-threatening diseases and planned my funeral, he just looks at me with those inscrutable Asian eyes and says, "I don't think so." Works every time.

Toni said...

OK grit, I'm still reading you despite my annoyance at your really non-response to my point about concerns homeschooling may cover abuse (and I really do mean the MAY there, I'm on your side here!)

But please read this article
and try and understand that people read this stuff, they absorb it, and they then can think that the homeschooling was a vital part in covering up this abuse. You may think I'm being pushy, but I want homeschoolers to take ACTION, and sit down with the education department and find a way where your neighbours will KNOW that your kids are OK when they pass them in the street at 11 am. And I do appreciate that kids in school get abused, too. I'm just annoyed that all the homeschoolers I read get super-defensive, and don't attack right back, just sit in a corner and whine about how they're being picked on. Change in attitudes requires action. Your blog gets read, I do understand that's part of your action. But is it ALL of it?

sharon said...

After one of my hositalisations here in Australia elder son came with husband to collect me when my 'holiday' was over. On our way out we passed some display cases containing various ob/gyn instruments including the exact 'brand' of forceps his little self was dragged screeching (him, not me, I was beyond sound by then) from my poor battered body. I took the opportunity to point them out to him, hoping to elicit some sympathy for what I endured. He said I must have really wanted a baby to go through that and was surprised I had brought him home afterward. Then he quite spoilt the moment by noting that it couldn't have been that bad though because I did go on to have another baby a few years later!

Big mamma frog said...

"I want homeschoolers to take ACTION, and sit down with the education department"

Actually locally we did exactly that. A group of home educators arranged a meeting with the local authority. The HEers explained why they home educated, they suggested the LA officers come visit the local home education groups, to come see what we do and speak to other home educating parents. To see that our children are alive and well and happy; to show that we are NOT hiding. Despite the history of intimidation and bullying of our local LA, the HEers were offering a hand of forgiveness, a sharing of information, an opportunity to bridge that gap.

And you know what those LA officers said? They said 'Oh no, I don't think we have a budget for that.' So, they don't have a budget for one person to spend 1 hour talking with the people they seem so keen to monitor! Yet apparently they have hours to make intimidating phone calls to home educators and to write bullying letters.

We suggested the LA post our local email group contact on their council website on the 'home education' page so that others could have access to a support network. So new HEers would avoid feeling isolated or vulnerable. Surely if anyone wants to keep children safe and well then ensuring the families receive support and information is an obvious step. The LA said they'd 'think about it'. Two years later (and several reminders) it appears that they are still 'thinking about it'.

All I can surmise from this is that the 'education dept' has no interest in interacting or discussing anything with home educators. And, really, no interest in finding out about home education or home educated children, except to get them back into school or 'doing school at home'. The LA has its own agenda...and the bullying continues.

Truth is, as home educators our lives are already full to overflowing, there are already a million-and-one demands on our time and energy, and there is only so much time and energy some of us are willing to waste trying to communicate with people who are beyond listening.

And yes, no doubt we will go back to try and talk to them again.
Head:brick wall.

Grit said...

kelly, that sounds an ideal combination. i am dreading illness of any variety here, because the only way off lamma island for a medical experience at 2am is a helicopter. otoh, dig says that he has always wanted a helicopter ride over hk, so if i can fall down the stairs, it would be best if i did manage it at 2am.

hi toni. thanks for your perspective. i am impressed by your staying power. what can i say in a comment box? i think i have to be thoughtful and make another post, amd maybe invite some home educators to contribute.

i think what you raise is an issue; the general public and mainstream education choosers have little understanding of home ed and the ideas which swirl around here; they do rely on journalists - ones who send their kids to school so they get the thinking time to knock out the news copy on the home educators. you can see why people in my world feel unrepresented and misrepresented in the mainstream press.

i will return to it, because it's an area i appreciate that there is a view on, and i feel i should address it.

there is a conspiracy of silence on many areas (one more glass of red wine here and take this borrowed computer away from me) so i need to think before i write.

i am dealing here with life, as big mamma says, and that includes tiger explosion, a disintegrating typesetting job (thanks ADOBE), 56 mosquito bites up the left leg, and lashing everything down thanks to the typhoon. so it won't be immediate, but i will come back to it.

in the meantime forgive me if i have to post something puerile. it keeps me on the right side of the in/sanity line.

hi sharon! why do hospitals do this? if it wasn't already bad enough, they have to exhibit the instruments of torture for your edification. i can't decide whether it's better to know or not.

thanks for this angle big mamma frog. how does anyone get into ?

Rachel M. said...

what a strange and interesting museum!