Friday, 11 January 2013

Creating leaders for tomorrow

Once a month, a group of us fearless parents take our home ed kids to the great outdoors, where we dump them, en masse. Then we parents leg it, leaving the offspring entirely to their own choices, negotiations, problem-solvings and knife-sharings.

You can tell we parents do this in great conviction. You know those notions: the tribe raises the child; it's an interdependent society; we all have to learn to co-operate ourselves out of hazards; we must learn to negotiate routes through problems; find those places in ourselves that are strong, weak, indifferent; and set in motion the reality and wonder about being a leader or a follower. 

I entirely believe in these ideas, too. I'm more than happy to put them into practice. And the afternoon is always a test of kid co-operation. They quickly come to face their options. Once we've frisked them for breadcrumbs and pebbles, they have to consider that if they don't form some functioning social cohesion, one of them will be eaten by lions, picked up by the police, or become feral and have to be raised by wolves.

After a suitable time, we return to pick up our children, praying it hasn't gone all Lord of The Flies.

But this time, it's the parents who are late at the meet point.

All I can say is, I have nothing but a quiet awe for people who can find their way out of woods.


I simply do not know how they do that directional north-south-east-west positioning thing without technology. Have they got more magnetic sensory equipment located in their noses than the rest of us? 

If I had become a leader rather than a follower on our six-mile hike - across every track that looked exactly the same as the last one - I would still be there, somewhere, lying dead and stiff under the mud and frozen soil. But no, thanks to my wise choice in becoming a follower, I wasn't dead by sundown.

Neither were any of the children. Don't ask what went on with them. Be happy only to know that this time there were no broken arms, busted teeth, split lips, torn clothing, or a pig's head on a spike.

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