Thursday, 27 September 2012

It's a feature of the modern age

I use this as example of practice. Just in case a dinosaur still lives. One who assumes home ed equates to kids alone, isolated, missing out on learning, or otherwise excluded from all normal life.

It's a Phoenician ship.

A steady stream of London- and shires-based educators march back and forth to this ship, and have been doing so, probably on a daily basis, since it moored at St Katharine's Dock in London.

As the little grits climb aboard, one home ed family is departing. And as we depart, a bunch of Hertfordshires arrive.

We hear not many schools are visiting. As we're led around, our guide says of these home educating tours, you guys are keeping us afloat. That's sad to hear, isn't it? The ship may be on the doorstep of a hundred schools - a demonstration of individual vision, great problem solving, endeavour, trial and error - but the Phoenicians aren't prescribed in the National Curriculum.

Never mind these ancient mariners can teach us equally and ably about trade, power, politics, navigation, the role of peace and war in protecting economic interests, stuff which we can apply to the 21st century. Nope. Between the scales of league tables and exam scores, Phoenicians are not worth learning about.

Along with much of history, I hear, bar Henry VIII and the Second World War, which Every Child Must Study in Detail, Amen, enduring six evacuations by age 12, and writing three sentences on the 1936 remilitarisation of the Rhineland by age 16. Tick.

So this month we opt for the Phoenicians instead. Well, their ship is here. Let's take advantage of it to teach us what it can about the past, the present, and the future. And it ticks a chord for us. Inspired, individual, off-beat.

Isn't it brilliant? Built by hand using traditional methods to test those ancient sea routes. Track it yourself.

Apart from the story this can tell you about our society's endless opportunities for practical history out of school, this day can also tell the dinosaur what a formidable network home educators enjoy.

Dear dinosaur, we are here, evolving quicker than you with our networking, planning, meeting and arranging; all of which you know nothing of. Education out of convention has a remarkable ability to cooperate, coordinate and cohere. Don't assume we all dance to the same tune, nor educate the same way, nor often have much in common beyond our shared educational lives. But by goodness, news of the Phoenicians arriving travels fast.

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