Monday, 23 July 2012

Home ed camp

You education malcontents, people with children unhappiest, and alternative school seekers.

Next year, resolve to come by HesFes on a day ticket. The gatekeepers will let you pass, I promise.

For your visit, bring kid, or something of equal spirit, like a window in the childlike part of your soul still open to all things curious and promising. Come, safe in the knowledge that to be among these alternatives you need not disguise yourself by dress bizarre, nor by flowers in the hair, not tie dyes, nor dreads. Neither should you fear that in two footfalls of your entrance, some suspicious twitching hippie will offer you industrial strength smoking fluid.

Although yes, this home ed camp for a slice of this society is a little like you strayed through a time portal into 1969. A little unreal, like a psychedelic vision trapped in a field off the A1120.

I sit flopped in the shade, failing to find my computer a clear route back into the internet world of 2012. A teenager saunters past me, touching his black satin top hat and softly smiling. His fluffy brown dressing gown flaps about his ankles. He's followed by a four-year old, singing happily to herself, dancing alone to her own story in a neon pink scarf, all a-rattle with spinning silver coins. Six or seven skinny boys, coats made of mud layers, chase each other with water guns. Their faces earnest on urgent matters of life or death, closing in on enemies with fierce determination. Strange, their intergalactic game play, cutting through the scenes where children of all sizes and ages and paints weave around, some dancing, some running, some on bikes, some leading small panting dogs and headed happily for the showers.

If you bring a kid unsure at school, then warning. Come here early, fix a meet-up time to take them home, then watch them go. You won't be wanted. There's too much to choose from and too much to do. Adults are superfluous to this playground.

Displaced persons, these accidental grown-ups, they relax by standing idly by, hands in pockets, shuffling their feet, waiting and talking or hanging about in the hope that they're needed. Some sit huddled outside bright marquees, clutching teas and earnestly talking edubabble. Others listen inside tents, weighing up wisdoms of speakers on personal experiences of education laws, special needs, local authorities, education plans, government policies, how to open doors of learning when others closed them down. I sit watching and wondering about everybody, while children chatter and music plays.
Around us all are places for activity: the grand solar cinema, tents for food, coffee, and rest, the travelling library, the art tent, the pole lathe, the empty chair dangling the label Public Speaking, and a plastic body displaying stomach, heart, and lungs.

Behind me another sign goes up. These signs catch me with their intentions: for a moment, they promise this great heaving, moving camp might stitch my dispersed children back where I would see them as a single group again, maybe for a Thursday flowers in wood at 2pm; perhaps come as a team at 4pm to shape beads, play games, write poetry, print scarves.

Maybe over there, come 6pm, I could find my children. Or not. It wouldn't matter. These hours belong to them, and I am one of the flow of parents, not needed. The notes I peeled from my purse this morning have sent my tribe scattering away, hunting their own cooked dinners and ice creams; secured them gone for better things to do than I can offer.

Someone interrupts me and asks whether I found the internet connection out of here. I say no, not yet. So I'll shut down the computer, settle back, and soak up the time.