Thursday, 1 March 2012

To my three girls, as they consider their educational futures

Dear Shark, Tiger, Squirrel,

You are now aged 12, and clearly anticipating your teenage years.

I am delighted.

Recently, you have each taken the opportunity to share with me your opinions about your education so far. I have heard your thoughts on my role, listened to what you would like me to do next, and you have made known your decisions about your future.

This is what I'd like to say to you, and I would, if you were all in the same room at the same time.

I think it is good to have ideas about your future. I would like you to review the educational landscape, and find out what resources are available to help meet your needs and wishes.

However, as you make plans for your continuing education through your teenage years, please consider the following.

1. Your commitments.
Any option might seem like a good idea in the abstract, but what practical commitment, endurance, strengths and concessions will your preference require from you?

2. Other people.
Such as papa (he the one with the $$). He might have been persuaded to the delights of the radical unschooling approach when you were aged three, because he understands the process of learning for three-year olds and deciding to eat spaghetti for breakfast while dressed as a panda are pretty much one and the same thing.

I admit, we have done a pretty good job in keeping that approach going for as long as we have!

However, papa might have a different opinion if you were to choose a radical autonomous education now. Indeed, you may need to do some negotiation if you choose this approach.

I merely give advance warning. Handing to you the option of whether you appear at the dinner table or not, and then when you do, dragging with you your new creative friend Skyburst who spent the entire day spray-painting the family car fluorescent pink because 'it seemed like a cool thing to do' might not go down well.

3. Me.
Yes, I'm sorry to put myself so high on the list, but you do rather rely on me for pocket money, transport, patient ears, art resources and - most valuable of all - dinner. Especially your favourite, pasta bake, which I should remind you, contains my secret ingredient.

Please, as you survey your educational choices, and before you come to a final final decision about your preferences, think how your option impacts on me.

How does it look from my perspective? Does it involve, assume, or rely on me putting my hand in my pocket, sacrificing my tours of castles, fields, local museums, or getting out of bed early?

As papa says, with grim determination and before he scuttles off back to Brazil for another three weeks, If your mother's happy, we're all happy.

4. Your sisters.
Yes! Because we are a family, after all! You are each due my mother love! I give it to you in one of those all-benefits-to-you contractual obligations I made with the guts, blood, and spew on the delivery-room floor. It precludes me entering into any discussions about who got the cheese in the cheesy rice. Remember you are all due exactly the same, whether you want it or not.

5. Cost.
Any educational route you consider comes with zeroes at the end. Your home ed so far has been more expensive than Eton! (That is fine by me. Your darling mama is the best private education we can buy.)

Consider now how your father can only work so many more years before he falls over, and I earn nothing. Think about the financial cost of any route you desire, and join in the discussions starting, How much?

But don't be downhearted! What do we say round here? You can do anything. You just have to be imaginative enough to think of it, and brave enough to carry it out.

6. Society.
Of course parents do not send their offspring to Eton for the grades. They send them for the social connections and networking that result.

The same applies to you. Who do you want to know? What type of people would you like to spend your teenage years with?

Your personal and professional lives can be forever linked, if you want. Consider how you might behave for that end. If you want to think of yourself as a virtuous, moral and improved type of person by spending your time with the vicar's daughter, then don't vomit in her father's car.

7. Looking back, forward. (If you can see where I'm going.)
Imagine yourself aged 18. What do you want to have achieved? What would you like to say about yourself?

Make sure, whatever you say about yourself, you say that your mother was a truly kind and wonderful woman and the drinking never got out of control.

8. The three r's.
Responsibility. Resourcefulness. Respect. These are how you have so far been brung up. Does your choice about the next three years map onto your thinking about these three r's?

Thank you for reading, ladies.

And no, I'm not coming into your bedrooms EVER EVER again, as requested.

However, I would contest it is because I am a STUPID OLD GIT POOPY HEAD.

Now, in participation with your new endeavour to be independent in all matters, you can change your own bedsheets.

For your research purposes.
Education extends from radical unschooling in all matters living and breathing, through to vaguely autonomous, via a bit of strewing, drives by some coercive parental whining about GCSEs, goes after CGP books, takes a turn to school-at-home, might stop at flexi-school, considers alternative provision, full-time school, boarding full-time with no recess, then passes back round to Internet school. Take your pick, given all of the above.


Tequilamonky said...

This is such an exciting post to read. How lucky are4 your girls to have all these opportunities open to them!
We're just at the start of our home-schooling journey (with children aged 6 and 7) and I must admit that already a little niggling voice in my head has been saying "but what about senior school" I forgot that by that point my children will be able to make the decision about how their schooling progresses
I will be bookmarking this post ;)

sharon said...

Wow, this move back to the UK is going to come with more than a change of locale by the sounds of things! Am intrigued as to what choices each of the Gritlets will make.

Angela said...

If they can read and understand all you have written to them, and the three r`s are part of what they have learned from you, then wow! You have done a great deed in teaching them, my dear admirable Grit. And I love your humour.