Tuesday, 4 June 2013

Then I sent off the cheque

Realising that Shark, Squirrel and Tiger are now aged 13, I am experiencing one of those moments, familiar to all home ed mamas and papas, that is the pendulum swing betwixt educational resignation and blind panic.

But I need to think about this next stage of our adventure in calm, clear, pragmatic terms. Because we all have options, right?

1. Go primitive and dangerous. Do no GCSE exams. Not one. See if the kids can wing it into college relying on their passion and enthusiasm.

Let's do it: Has great appeal. No exams is the entrance ticket for the weird and dangerous crowd, the ones who best challenge social norms, cut across your group-think, and who express their individuality in true, genuine style. Also appeals to my deep idle streak which I will claim is my educational philosophy.

Let's not risk it: Tiger, Squirrel and Shark utterly fail to get into college thanks to an interview technique based on slumping in a chair and saying Leave me alone! Why are you asking such difficult questions? Consequently, have to spend a year and two thousand pounds on intensive coaching in English, Maths, and anything else demanded by Mrs Stern Lips at the college interview.

2. Go autonomous. Follow a couple of IGCSE curriculums at home in indifferent, haphazard manner, basically finding an excuse to turn geography into cake, then stride cheerfully into an exam room as an external candidate and see what answers come to mind.

Let's do it: Suits our style. Would fit naturally into everyday life chez Grit. We could become freedom fighters for how exams ought to be. A snapshot of your natural wits, wisdoms and abilities, rather than the possessor of a very large memory copied from the bullet points.

Let's not risk it: Shark, Squirrel and Tiger fail to be tested by the miserly, constricted standards of the day and come out with a scattering of grades from U to E, then have to spend a year and two thousand pounds on intensive coaching in English, Maths etc.

3. Play a little bit normal. Hire IGCSE tutors online, take distant courses which give the appearance of accreditation, hope to build up a CV for each child that has a variety of recognisable and interesting stuff which helps them blag a way into college.

Let's do it: Sounds like an interesting way to spend a couple of years, and would involve both cake and an essay that someone else has set.

Let's not risk it: Sounds like hard work requiring an administrative role from me, which is a bad idea considering I haven't a clue what day it is. Shark, Squirrel and Tiger fail to have the staying power to manage more than a couple of half-finished courses and we all revert to cake and making unicorn money. I kiss goodbye to three thousand quid for the privilege. Spend a year and two thousand pounds on intensive coaching in English, Maths etc.

4. Play a lot normal. Insist on eight ICGSEs taken from home. Set up a timetable. Enforce it. Be rigorous and stern about deadlines, correct answers, marks, scores, feedback, etc.

Let's do it: No, I can't think of any reason why we would do this, unless I had a character-transforming brain injury, or I died and Shark, Squirrel and Tiger were gifted with a step mother who did it for me.

Let's not risk it: I would have to become a person I am not. The children would hate me, then rebel, steal cider, sleep on park benches, take drugs and become prostitutes.

5. Make it someone else's job. Send Shark, Squirrel and Tiger to school. I don't have to bother thinking about it, booking exam rooms, paying as external candidates, fretting about the right paper on the right day, reading mark schemes, or printing out sample exam papers. It's all someone else's job and I can blame the teachers if anyone comes out with a grade D.

Let's do it: I could spend all day conjuring my leather-bound works of poetic brilliance until I am taken up by Vivienne Westwood accessories and my business empire is assured.

Let's not risk it: Shark, Squirrel and Tiger won't get up in the morning. Vivienne Westwood drops dead without ever clapping eyes on my notebooks.

Verdict: Looking at Shark, Squirrel and Tiger in detail, assessing their character types and the triplet dimension which is, frankly, getting in the way here, I'm choosing Route 3. At least until next month, when I have another crisis.


Big mamma frog said...

Was sure I put a comment on here. But it isn't here.

Did I imagine it?

I think it was a sympathetic 'been there, got the t-shirt' sort of comment.

higglepea home ed said...

I so sympathize with this headache decision. It's a tough one to know which is the best path to walk.

We let the girls decide which way they wanted to 'play the exam game' after pointing out all the pros and cons of the various options that lay before them. x

Grit said...

yes, i am suffering with this one; but at the same time determined that if we do follow these curriculums, we shall do it in our own style!

suzywoozy said...

We've done 2 sets of 5 (5 each for each child - in a buy the text book and work through it sort of way - kids wanted to though - although the difference between wanting to pass the exam and wanting to do the work at any particular time is quite extreme - we did maths with a couple of friends because I would never have stayed on track if it was just me and the kids. Bio and Eng workshops with another mum. A chemistry blog to try and keep us going http://www.creativerevelation.co.uk/
RS just by reading the bible and doing past papers. Environmental management with a general themes and visits approach followed by 6 weeks of panic and manic past paper revising.
And an ECDL.

I know it's more than 5 but the 2 of them did some things the same and some different.