Friday, 7 January 2011

Education for today

Don't ask me what it is. I know nothing.

By the looks of the floor, they are cutting up the monthly output of a Chinese paper factory. I would like to say I am once again exploring autonomous education, but it would be a lie.

I am sure that autonomous education is better than this. Don't push me for a definition, but I think, from what I have seen, it actually involves an attentive parent somewhere. One who is in the same house, and sometimes, the same room.

In fact, I think an autonomously educating parent would say - eye-spying the several layers of dissected Wikipedia pages on the Pablo Picasso we never got around to seeing - 'Tell me about the cut up paper, Moonbeam! It looks fantastic!'

That isn't what I do. I shuffle into the sitting room, unable to bear the conversation of my own brain for a second more, and I clap my fingers round my head in horror before shouting 'What sodding mess is this? Can I take it to the tip?'

I bet autonomous educators do not say that. To those parents that practice this seductive educational philosophy, I admire you for your staying power and steel knuckles, your presence of mind to transform disaster to triumph, and your emotional ability to withstand outpourings of blood from paper cuts.

Don't any of you pop up right now to tell me you are not strong in those departments. I am sure you watch your child's paper cutting techniques to better know your child's strengths; that you follow five hours of intense scissory-snippery with attentive listening to protracted explanations about how this piece of paper resembles a wardrobe more satisfying than does this piece of paper; that you offer interesting observations to the child-led ramblings on all paper-related activities; and that you help forward the total paper debate in a non-coercive manner towards new, mutually beneficial, understandings, maybe with the discussion advancing Moonbeam's new project on tree pulp. Shut up. Let me keep my imaginings intact. I must have something to aim for.

Because what I am doing is clearly a dozen more rungs down the ladder. I am doing neglectful education. When someone asks me to intensely observe how fantastic is paper cutting, I run off to my room, lock the door and close the curtains. Every four hours I creep out, hoping no one will see, to throw pasta on the table. Once the house falls dark and quiet, I tip toe out to sweep up heaps of paper in the hope no-one in the morning will notice and sob inconsolably that Misty's wardrobe is missing.

But there is nothing for it. I am engaged elsewhere. I am busy with other projects* and out of necessity have shut myself up in a room with my own sad brain.

Anyway, while I aspire to autonomous education, I will let you know how the neglectful education goes. I can occasionally hear screaming, but that might be me.

* Aha! I realise, on writing that word, I might come across as being busy and interesting, or maybe a little elusive! At last! I am a Mata Hari! Unfortunately, it is such projects as the one over here. So you see, not as interesting as Top Secret Project, Codename: Rule the World. But I liked thinking I might be interesting for a whole one-half second. So perhaps I will issue a statement to the effect that I cannot confirm or deny anything.


sharon said...

Now the gritlets should learn the serendipity technique where all of those cut up and rejected snippets of paper are glued, randomly overlapping, onto another whole sheet to form a new design. Sort of patchwork but less formal.

Read your article too - I remember those library bags ;-)

Sam said...

yep, absolutely - insightful snippity snipping here, for hours and hours, with no sign of the sweeper, dustpan, or me having a strop ;-)

Love the secret project!

Luke said...

Good Job Grit!!

Oh that'd have Alfie Kohn in a hissy fit, sorry"

Miss Practicality said...

I brainwashed mine into thinking vacuuming is fun. It keeps them occupied twice the time.