Tuesday, 21 June 2011

Where shall we go next?

I am emotionally flattened and thought-drained.

This is my reward for thinking. Not surprisingly, I try not to indulge too often.

But think I must, because here are my triplet teens-to-be, poised, hinge-point, between late primary and secondary. I face so many imponderables I barely know where to begin.

I have done what I thought should be done: primary education should be practical, experiential, questioning, adventuresome, child-led, muddy.

It is easy to facilitate with an open mind and a strong heart. While schooled peers sat in classrooms, uniform learning for exam technique, my young ladies ran about fields in the drizzle; hugged sheep; walked woods with friends; enjoyed Shakespeare; considered five hours reading time well spent; indulged in art, craft, practical skills and a good dinner; visited every museum for miles around; travelled; patiently listened to mama recite the hourly progress of the Battle of Bosworth; joined difficult discussions about English culture; took what sports they fancied; joined lessons as they liked, then fled the room when someone mentioned algebra.

Primary education out of school has been - maybe I fear the future - shockingly straightforward. I strongly recommend it, compared to the alternative on offer here.

But I'm stuffed.

Because really, how easy is it, at this hinge point, age eleven, to turn about and face the local school? I am not likely to match the skills and expectations of a home ed child down the local comp.

It's not only me, either. Faced with Squirrel's obvious delight in digging up the garden in preference to knuckling down and writing a single coherent sentence of the creative story I have been banging on about for two years, I can't see that any secondary school in their right mind would have her.

Of course we have wondered whether, at this primary-secondary point, we should give the private schools a challenge. Except I have no income and, as far as I'm aware, Stowe isn't declaring itself gratis from next September.

Then there is the other stuff that cuts up the day; the stuff that interacts so deeply with education that some people call it lifestyle: all the stuff of where are we living and what are we doing.

I feel we are at a fork in the road. Given what Shark, Tiger and Squirrel say, my own doubts and inclinations, and Dig's pathetic inability to avoid tax, the upshot is, I'm not sure.

In the short term, I guess that Phase II of the Great Home Education Endeavour is likely to proceed as it did in Part I. Muddle along, bouts of panic and self-doubt alternating with overconfidence and blasé indifference. It alarms the children and comforts them in equal measure, so everyone's happy.

As part of the plan, I continue mulling over the best way to follow a Geography GCSE. It will give Shark some reassurance that I know what I'm doing, supply Squirrel with some rock action, and remind Tiger that there are many ways to reach an end point; we just have to choose what's best for all.

Now, enough of that navel gazing. Wherever I drift, I always have a part of my brain still plotting in a number of firm directions.

Here is the culmination of my delightful scheming brain's hard work.

It is a horse. Albeit one making sideways glances to reassure itself of its superiority.

Here's another one. This one is nice but dim, and has horns.

Not our horses, I hasten to add. Good grief no. I am already bound in a dithering moral dilemma over a two-inch hamster, thank you very much.

These horses own the horse-crazed cousins. Not my cousins, either. They are Dig's. Whatever mess we make of our living arrangements, we have to stay in with the horse-turned cousins due to the fact they are quite demented, love horses, and Tiger has a gene from their side.

That partition of the family is all properly horse: leggy, blond and dignified, with interests in achievement and show jumping. I bring to this equation short, dark, with unhealthy interests in loafing and idling.

In case you are wondering, this is not entirely a post of unrelated points.

This day - when we offload Tiger and Squirrel to the horse cousins, and tip Shark into Aunty Dee's Volvo to drive at 10 miles an hour over North Northumberland - is a day from which I draw great support.

I have planned this moment through all the trials in Hong Kong, promised Tiger that it will be possible, brought it to pass, and it shows me that I am capable of thinking more than two hours ahead at a time.

This gives me great encouragement. If I can plan and bring Tiger to a horse in Northumberland from a hillside in Hong Kong, then surely I can plan and bring into fruition an education out of school for one daughter (wants GCSEs), a second daughter (wants autonomous) and a third daughter (as yet undecided, but may involve fairy wings.)

I can. Can't I?


sharon said...

You can indeed my dear! Although those who will require some paper qualifications will have to accept that they come at the price of a certain amount of conformity.

If you were here you could make use of the materials, course framework, independent marking and sometimes Summer schools provided for those who cannot attend school either due to distances involved or lack of courses offered in their local schools. Although I haven't looked into it thoroughly I'm fairly sure Home Edders could utilise this service too.

Rachel M. said...

Yep, you can do it!!! It just get's more challenging to accommodate 3 independent girls going in 3 different directions.

MadameSmokinGun said...

You're already doing it me love! Have you got any monied-up family members who think you're outrageous who'll pay for the GCSEs (or iGCSEs as I understand one does 'from home')? I know someone who's in-laws have decided to fund their kids' exams - it makes them feel all good and useful. Despite the family politics in question they've gone - 'yeah fund us then!'