Monday, 13 June 2011

Have your cake and eat it

I must think about home education. It is a week day.

I tell Squirrel that most people think week days - Mondays to Fridays - are ordinary school days. Bearing that in mind, can you now look at a spelling book instead of screaming in the garden?

Last week there was quite a bit of screaming in the garden, Monday to Friday, 9-3. I ask her to think about this. One fine school-day, an alert passer-by, unaware of our privileged status, will remark to their companion how, behind that tall garden wall, children are screaming. If they are of a mind, one of the passers-by might conclude that the screaming signifies children who are probably being mistreated and certainly denied access to school by parents who don't care. It is a school day, after all.

Those things are true on our side of the wall too. The children are mistreating each other, and we have denied them primary school on the basis that it doesn't meet our requirements. There are lots of things I don't care much about too.

The concerned neighbour can, however, bring quite a storm down on our heads by a simple telephone call to a local authority.

Some days, it has seemed a miracle to me how we have not been doorstepped by the LA, the EWO, and a Community Police Support Officer with a penetrating stare.

As this hasn't happened, and especially in light of the lamp-post incident, I might assume we have generous-minded neighbours, liberal and forgiving in their attitudes. Or maybe we live in the type of 'hood where people couldn't give a toss whether we are beating up our children or not.

My reminders about school days and upset passers-by prompts some discussion about what to do on a school day. I say it must be suitable for their age, ability, and aptitude, but screaming in the garden is not on the curriculum.

Squirrel says it could be making cake, as it is her Name Day. (I cannot explain Name Days without losing consciousness; they were an invention of triplet despair, and they have been the bane of my life ever since.)

Tiger and Shark, sniffing cake-as-curriculum again, readily agree. To persuade my doubtful face, Squirrel adds that if we can make cake, everyone promises faithfully to learn the spelling of some words from the dictionary.

Of course I agree to this compromise. I tell myself that any sensible person will acknowledge that the definition of a suitable education is open to interpretation.

So, instead of me spending two hours threatening Squirrel with a spelling book until we both reach the point of sulkybadmoodness where no-one wants to spell anything ever again, and instead of them spending the remaining hours screaming in the garden, we all make cake, and eat it.

Seems like a good definition of a suitable education to me.

And yours?


sharon said...

let's see, cake making - that's home economics, science, maths, reading and, if decorating said cake, art too! That ticks a lots of educational boxes in my book. Oh and you can add 'critical assessment' for the tasting process;-)

lisbonlioness said...

I seem to remember that most of my education flew past me without leaving a trace, and the bits that did leave a trace (including a few semesters studying law) didn't stop me from working in a bookies for a living.
Whereas I have very fond memories of baking about 17 different kinds of xmas cookies with the one and only auntie I ever loved and learning pretty much everything from home economics to chemistry in the process. Well, as much of it as ever I'll need anyway. I am still pretty darn amazing at shopping on a dime, using baking ingredients for cleaning, crafting and home improvement and makin' a good cookie along the way.
Take that, primary school.

Kelly said...

Actually, Julian has lessons with a trained pastry chef about once every two weeks, and yesterday was the day. He came home with two types of cookies filled with chocolate butter cream, home-made garlic croutons, and a great deal of "garnished" fruit and veg, which I turned into salads and smoothies, after duly admiring his knife skills. Tell me how cookies are not education. Cake and cookies are the very best kind of education in my personal opinion.

Belgravia Wife - sort of said...

Delicious, yolk, nutritious, fahrenheit, celsius, enzyme. YUM YUM YUM

Nora said...

There's nothing like adding a home ed class to the curriculum. Did you make the girls do all of the work? Who did most of the eating? Remember those skinny clothes.

MadameSmokinGun said...

I think you also added some other very important subjects to the list: philosophy, debate, problem-solving, responsibility, decision-making, politics, tactics, collective planning, cooperation etc etc Cake is definitely a superior educative device.

Today we had scones. Not so much a team-building exercise tho' here. More of a learning to operate under a very loud dictatorship. Yes, Minx made scones.