Thursday, 26 April 2012

Mapping the world

Today, group co-op. Measuring with rulers, figuring out angles with a protractor, creating an astrolabe and drawing accurate maps of Ancient Greece.

Looks like maths and stuff. Maybe what Joe Public equates with the word education. Thank goodness for it.

I need these pictures; they are signs that I wrestled from the week something that Joe Public thinks is an education (and which a bit of me agrees with).

Because I'm having one of those routine crashes - home educating parents will recognise them - brought about by the fact that Shark, Squirrel and Tiger seem these days totally determined to turn their backs on conventional stuff like measuring angles, but to focus instead on how to live life in the unicorn clan.

And this is all my doing; the prime reason I home educate is to give the children time to explore creative play, develop long and complex narratives, and enjoy the time and space to follow through their impulses and desires.

Every so often I just wish they would lay it all aside and figure out what fractions are, that's all. But it doesn't work like that, does it? I have given my children a large amount of free choice, but they do not seem to choose fractions. Being consoled about 'who needs maths anyway' never works, no matter how hard the autonomous wing tries.

So I'm watching the unicorn obsession take hold again and feel powerless as it rolls towards me. I fear we could be in for a deep-structure play of three months or more. It leaves me suffering severe doubt yet without the ability to do anything about it, thanks to a mix of crippling inertia and the certain knowledge that as I have no authority over my own children they are not likely to suddenly take up fractions because I am waving about a poxy worksheet, even if it comes with a chocolate bar.

Consequently, I'm having a crisis. In these moments, the only thing I am sure of is that my grand alternative provision is all a disastrously failed experiment and whose brilliant idea was it anyway to keep the kids off school? Don't we regret it now, eh?

Shark, Squirrel and Tiger remain mostly unaware of these pits of doubt.

They go about their days happily. Squabbling about unicorn clans, cutting up cardboard for unicorn carriages, making unicorn tea from grass as an experiment (I'm not drinking it), making unicorn money from clay, composing long letters to each other about unicorn law, and debating whether the unicorns need an independent police force or should Lem run a military junta?

I don't know whether any of this deep-structure play has any application in further education and employment, but right now I'm hoping it is rather a lot.

Maybe, what with the discussions on justice, law, and 'can you get away with counterfeiting', my kids will be ideally suited for careers in politics.

So long as the opposition are actually unicorns, they should be okay.


home-ed mummy said...

I'm a rubbish commenter but avid reader. Thank you! I feel good knowing I am not the only one who has kids that behave like this (less of the unicorns mind) ignoring most offerings of "proper education" put in their path and while I mostly love that, it's great knowing I am not the only one who worries about it too.

Bev said...

Thank you yet again. I've been in the same pit for a few weeks now but it takes me quite some time to realise why everything feels wrong. Being able to recognise it is more than half the battle for me. So thank you again, now I just have to 'ride the wave' until its run its course!

laura said...

Oh I recognise that pit well enough! Mine is currently on a Warrior Cats streak and I am now at the point of just giving her a simple maths worksheet in the morning and counting anything else that happens as lucky.Every time it happens I start thinking I have made some horrible mistake and my kid is going to wind up on a park bench somewhere drinking meths and talking to imaginary warrior cats. At some point things will pick up and we can ride the 'free thinking and maybe a little smug that our kids have so much intellectual freedom' wave again... ;)

Grit said...

staying with it seems half the battle to me, folks! i alternate between panic-stricken 'must do something' and laissez-faire watch what happens, pick it up from there.

i reckon that somewhere, between the two, must lie that elusive education.

Kelly said...

rit, you do an insane amount of activities with your kids. If it's any consolation, I always feel vaguely guilty when I see all of your excursions. We've barely left the house for four months. (Granted, this is a reaction to spending the previous nine months spent travelling, but we're living in a new area with a fantastic natural environment and we've seen very little of it!)

My seven year old twins have been predominantly obsessed with farm set over the past three years. And i've noticed that although they're nowhere near their more academic, studious older sister was at their age in maths and english, their imagination, the stories they come up with and their vocabulary is fantastic. Even if one didn't know what multiplication was the other day. It's hard, isn't it, to recognise what they're achieving when it's not really recognisable or measurable. I find I get more antsy as they get older-I found it quite easy to be completely relaxed when they were younger, but my 'school mind' comes out more and more as they get older. I just have to work out which bits I let it influence me on.

The radical unschooling brigade don't reassure me either, just leave me feeling vaguely irritable!

Kelly said...

Lost your G-sorry rit!