Thursday, 23 May 2013


Squirrel was right. I have a secret agenda, of course I do.

It is my ongoing project to introduce my gritty offshoots to cultural studies - which can mean more or less anything you want - but for me must include film, politics, literature, music, enjoying myself doing what I like, nice leather-bound notebooks and, when I am old enough to have one, a tiny toy fox terrier with dainty paws I can hold and stroke lovingly.

This is one of the best things about children, the way you have the opportunity to bring up people who share your culture and community groups, and who have an understanding about your concerns about the world. Basically, people whose company you might enjoy.

This is not to say I want my mini grits to be identical in outlook to me, of course not, that would be absurd; if they had the same tastes as me, I would have to share my fine collection of handbags with them, which I am not prepared to do. I want enough of a difference that we can all have a good ding-dong over the kitchen table about who deserves the last slice of pie, before leaving the house with deep-seated grudges before going off to vote in all our different ways. I want to be a normal family, obviously. But broadly, I want us to have opinions we can share: we should know where each other is coming from, and understand the things which matter to each of us.

By-the-bye, it is this 'reproducing-a-culture' thing which for home educators, and probably many other minority groups, is often cast as a problem: maybe there is a fear that unless we are all made publicly accountable via our presence at school, with our allegiances, views and values on display, then we might be perpetuating undesirable, anti-social values in private.

In Britain I take the fear to be linked fundamentally to class, and naturally I wonder if people may resent one state, but not the other. Example: Lolling about the sofa eating pies while unemployed = bad. Sending the daughters to Roedean with the expectation of a career in Tatler = good.

But this is an awfully long way round of putting down in my home ed diary that - hot on the heels of the British Library Propaganda show - I deliberately sat the little grits down on the sofa to watch Stagecoach* (1939) with John Wayne. Specifically so we can talk about ways in which culture reproduces itself, whether film is a form of propaganda, and whether we should go and see The Lone Ranger at the cinema or wait for the dvd.

I feel it's important. I want to show my little grits where culture looks backwards to, for its sources, images and ideas. Which is cultural studies, if you like. And who cares whether or not they understand this stuff now. They'll grow into it. (I hope.)

Squirrel on Stagecoach: What is happening? What's wrong with her? Where did that baby come from?

* The lazy way out; if it's not Stagecoach, then the other way I can tackle the Wild West is to sit and read aloud the dreaded Leatherstocking Tales.

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