Saturday, 1 December 2012

How can you teach everything?

I had this again. Hmm. Christmas might be an example.

It is one reason why I was driven to home educate, frankly. I want to be in control of Christmas.

Nursery - the experiment we foolishly tried when Shark, Tiger and Squirrel were aged four - gave us a size 24 classroom assistant wearing tinsel elf ears, eagerly anticipating Christmas starting in October when Santa falls down the chimney.

I'm sorry? Isn't it a bit more complex than that? I want the mini grits to grow up with a much wider awareness than offered by a pair of tinsel elf ears. I want my little grits to be aware of how many stories and how many voices compete for our attention and time in our Northern hemisphere's mid-winter.

Relying on Coca-Cola's Santa with his red-nosed reindeer, 200cwt of school glitter, and a school assembly for Christian Teaching Resources delivered by BoxTick.Gov.UK merely glosses over the issues raised by organised religion, commercial power, and social expectations.

Sure, we'll track Santa with Norad, watch Miracle on 34th Street, and read A Christmas Carol (again), and yes, I may even wear tinsel elf ears myself, but I want to take time to position all this in some intelligent and interesting debate.

It comes down to who's in charge of this culture? Whose message do I support? I could not imagine for one minute being able to shut up for long enough to suffer the quickly-delivered school line on Christmas without wanting to punch the classroom assistant and start a fight. Ultimately I'd want to make the event all more complicated than they'd want (a donation to the Christmas Fair organised by the PTA).

So yes, I do think I can teach my kids about Christmas better than any school. I want to convey rounded awareness rather than blinkered ignorance.

Now, December 1st. We are not Christian. I can't pray to anyone how I never want any of my little grits to burst home, declaring their born again evangelical status. I can only hope the family gene for that isn't dominant.

Even so, we're up for the carol service at St Giles in the Fields, the Poets' Church. Listening to Tallis' Videte miraculum, sung by Pegasus.

Christmas discussion starts here.

Learning how to turn up at a Church not looking like a scruff-ball;
learning how to shut up, sit down, listen to someone else;
and learning how to take part in a wider cultural event 
alongside an audience mostly composed of those aged over-50

(And when the kids have learned all this, they can teach me.)

1 comment:

Katie Pybus said...

I enjoyed this post - I think being your child's primary source of information as a home educator puts you in a major position of trust and we have found it hard to reconcile some of the Christmas stories with that.

As the years have past I am even more pleased we chose to be upfront from the start. But maybe that's just my inner economist!