Thursday, 4 October 2012

Left brain / right brain

One half of my brain says Yeah, go for it.

The other half of my brain sighs. Then it blips a message to the mouth. Hey! Beer would be refreshing! Even though it's only 8.23am, and the face is sure to break out in hives.

My schizo moment came about with James Naughtie's comment in that burble on poetry. All children have to go to school. (BBC Radio 4, the Today programme, 8.23am. Just in case you missed it.)

The militant home ed brigade would have been frothing in sanctimonious outrage by 8.24am. They'd be busy jamming the switchboards, crashing out emails, and leaving vengeful voicemail about your educational duty under Section 7. Of course all children don't have to go to school. Everyone knows that, Jimmy. How come you don't? Tosser.

Restrained, I'd say. They'd really like to shove a death threat skewered to a rat's kidney through the BBC letterbox.

But of course the BBC aren't going to waste airtime apologising to a measly bunch of offended home educators! They'll let the comment slide away in recognition of the fact that to the majority of listeners, it's just not that controversial. The resigned beery bit of me sighs. Turning it into a pitched battle with dung throwing and outraged sensibilities can make a home educator look foolish, like we can't discriminate between the battles that matter and the battles that don't.

But then the other bit of my brain - the bit that thinks a spot of direct action fire-bombing might be a reasonable tactic in the dead animal fur coat department - says Yeah, go for it. Because don't we tire of hearing misinformed doodah, day in, day out? Especially when it makes my job harder. Even if it is a job to walk down your High Street at 11.30 on a Monday morning with three kids in tow, one of whom is experimenting with a scarecrow hair-do and the others you can't tell apart when both are covered in yesterday's mud.

And believe me, that judgement against the home ed chooser is everywhere. David Usborne, writing in The Independent around that topic of legitimate rape and the US Todd Akin campaign? Out the blue pops this: But some are willing to forgive, like Vicki Sciolaro, 51, who is one of scores of home-schooling mothers – parents who believe they can instruct their offspring better than teachers – who turn up for Akin events. 

Uh? Why – that comment – between the dashes? Unless it's to throw in a judging tone of slight superior  contempt, a sneering towards a homeschool identity conflated with a woman's belief in Akin, showing how far crackers he must be, followed by such crazies as her! And how crazy can that be, the belief of a crazy home-school mom who believes in womb mechanics and no doubt tells her children that, too? Crazy! Shows you home-school should be watched if it can't be outlawed.

So Yeah, go for it.

If we don't have a pop, if we don't make your assumptions explicit, if we don't tread on a few toes, use our elbows, broaden that discussion, yell like kids and make idiots of ourselves, then no-one else will on our behalf. Now if you give me a day or two, I might be able to come up with a rat's kidney.

Meanwhile, I'll resign myself, and let the judgements and assumptions pass. But because brewer's yeast is terrible for my hives, pour me a gin instead.

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