Friday, 27 December 2013

Becoming spasmodic

grit's day is changing, oh yes indeed. Shark, Squirrel and Tiger are growing up; the heavy-hanging awareness of being suddenly called to account by a Local Council is receding; and I am about to throw myself into that other great purpose of my life, my Knicker Drawers.

I hope the everyday blog has been helpful, in the sometimes, and maybe between-times, as a routine voice of ordinaryness, encouragement, inspiration, suggestion of places to go, things to do, showing a home ed way of life not so very different, but very different once stepped outside school.

In truth, the daily diary is becoming so very less important than so many other projects. My Knicker Drawers are growing very large in my life. And now, in place of grit's day, I need to follow those other lines of thinking and doing. It is there where I need to pause, consider, reflect on a whole first year of business from craft, plan, pay back some of my intellectual debts, experiment, explore, create new beautiful pieces, focus on those I want to reach, book some larger shows, and talk to people who can help.

I shall keep grit's day as our educational record, rather than an evening place to go. I'll post when I feel the need, or when I remember to take the photograph.

Love, Grit xx

Tuesday, 17 December 2013

End of term report?

English. We do that monthly reading group, so are wading our deliberate, slow way through the canon, with as much loud reading as I can manage. Audio disks help. As do movies. Also, leaving the offspring alone for days so they can sink properly, deeply, into eighteenth century airs, raising their heads only for beans on toast. Suffice to say, this approach can raise bibliophiles. I murmur, half to myself and half to Squirrel, 'Sense and Sensibility? We should read that'. She answers, 'I already did. Twice'.

Maths. Don't know. Dig has paid money for a new computer resource bank, and he has been gamely teaching programming to the Gritties Jnrs. It all sounds logical and procedural, so I'm counting it as maths. Shark surprised me the other night by saying she found statistics easier than she expected. Statistics? I have no idea what she's on about.

Latin. Lingua Latina keeps us in order. She manages fortnightly homework, makes us all play games, and comments on the appallingness that is Shark's handwriting. This week it is the Latin Christmas Party, which involves cake, cake, Latin and cake. Otherwise, I support the Classics endeavour; Shark, Squirrel and Tiger have begun reading Homer's Odyssey in all its variations, tellings, and retellings. And you can bet I shall be soon getting out Kirk Douglas and Anthony Quinn.

Geography. Cake all the way on that one.

Chemistry. Thank goodness I farmed out that one! It's so relieving and relaxing to be an administrator; I am almost totally relieved of the pressure of responsibility. The fear of failing to be entertaining and informative with a bag of caustic soda and a pint of vinegar has almost totally left me.

Do the Gritties do any other subjects? Maybe they do, but they mix the day in a seamless segue of many disciplines, skiving off to watch Horrible Histories, then commenting loudly on Henry VII or Vlad the Impaler. Sub-aqua diving, weekly, if it counts as sport for Shark, and then wide games for them all. Wide games is coming along brilliantly; it involves running about trees trying to pick off an enemy.

Everyone is doing splendidly. (Apart from the handwriting. Spelling. General organisation. Physics. And time-keeping.) Now, what else can I say, but gold stars, all round.

Saturday, 14 December 2013

Carmen at the ROH

Superb performance at the Royal Opera House. Home educators can apply for the schools events, even if the language coming from the ROH can be a little teacher-heavy; doesn't matter if you're in a large or small group.

Friday, 13 December 2013

Universities UK? SHAMEFUL

So I gather together my FEMALE children who are GIRLS; my DAUGHTERS who are named - for the purposes of their underground FEMINIST activities from this point - Shark, Squirrel and Tiger.

I gather my children round my kitchen table and, with great restraint, do not show them how to create a home-made incendiary device.

No! I am grown up. I advocate other non-direct forms through which to demonstrate, protest, register my civil disobedience, and generally name-and-shame Universities UK, such as here, in my tiny allotment in blogland.

Because here is this week's situation, girl children of mine, my Women Warriors.

A Speaker (Mister X) says he will happily take up his right to freedom of speech in a university setting. But. Only if you, girl children, behave in ways of which he approves.

Such ways are simple. Sit where he wants you to sit, behave how he requires, and next year, in possibility, dress how he wants.

And why? Because he has a genuinely held religious belief. This, according to Universities UK, trumps your rights to freedom of choice and freedom of association. Your rights are of lesser worth than his. Because your rights are based on a history of movement towards equality for men and women, and his rights are based on a sky god.


Yet gender segregation may be very wise!! Because, as every man knows, a woman's vagina is dangerous and irresponsible. Vaginas run amok at any moment, tempting men's dingly danglies. Men, who are weak, and unable to control making a blithering idiot of themselves at every opportunity, need to be protected. So, we could lock up all owners of vaginas in black shrouds where the vulnerable male is spared from such wanton temptation.


I find a list is useful when my stomach is in full boil and the fingers are all jabby.

Daughters, have a list.

1. The moment anyone tells you they have a genuinely held religious belief, do not allow them to use this to claim authority, power, or moral ascendancy over you. Their belief does not give them more rights than you.

2. If any situation, constructed by people who have a genuinely held religious belief, denies you an equal freedom of choice or a freedom of association, then speak out on that injustice.

3. If anyone demands special treatment as a result of their genuinely held religious belief, question their demands closely. Equal male and female treatment in public places, social settings, and on a university campus - which should value intellectual rigour - is your right. Social niceties can oil the way or obscure the view. But they do not replace your right, and expectation, to equal treatment.

4. If anyone tells you that because of this genuinely held religious belief then we must respect and make normal the separation of people at a lecture/speaking event in a UK University, based on their gender/skin colour/hair colour/class background/ability to draw an orange, then I, Mother Spirit, expect you, Women Daughters, to protest. LOUDLY. Make your protest known at all levels in this society, from the top to the bottom, and back again.

5. If a speaker tells you they will only take up their right of freedom of speech if you, Woman, behave in a way that he demands, then you can be sure he is about to say exactly what you can't trust.

Thursday, 12 December 2013

Find your local STEM

Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths. We attend the Christmas set at the OU today. Honestly, these lectures can be audience aware, age-appropriate, and as a home educator you get to think, thank goodness someone is standing up talking about techie stuff they know.

Wednesday, 11 December 2013


Tiger joins the Central London Art Group for a workshop on Dürer, held at the Courtauld Institute. Me, I'm thrilled to see those beautiful fluid lines expressing character and mood in every turn. And isn't he handsome in those self portraits? Tiger, she's less excited. Maybe he didn't draw enough horses.

Tuesday, 10 December 2013

Monday, 9 December 2013

Probably out of step with the nation

Repeating the Christmas nativity story. In Latin.

(Ignore the one with the metal detector. He cannot keep his trumpet aloft.)

Sunday, 8 December 2013

Gone to market (day 2)

Selling my lovely, lovely notebooks at Marston Vale forest centre. I said farewell to my favourite witch confection, offering magic wand, animal bone and blackbird feather, but the homage to Sherlock is still waiting for the right customer to come along.

Saturday, 7 December 2013

Forget about the market (day 1)

Mama stands all day at her craft stall, selling lovelylicious notebooks - which I would happily describe to you in intimate detail until your ears fall off - but her achievement is of no significance today.

It is that time of year when Smalltown disgorges onto the streets in its wicker-and-fire festival.

Newcomers, you may see this in terms of its sinisterness and perversion. And I could not explain otherwise, really, because no-one round here knows why. Like all fine local traditions, it just is.

Fetch Edward Woodward. His time is come.

Friday, 6 December 2013

Making wreaths

So it felt like we were creating funeral wreaths for Mandela but, honestly, that was not in my mind when I set the dates for wreath making.

And this one is nearly circular.

Thursday, 5 December 2013

And the paper-based evidence

Yes, education of your recognisable variety goes on.

Thus be assured, ye maiden chained to the Local Council Drone Desk. We home educating clans do stuff other than lolling about, reading books, complaining about schools today, swotting up on Latin because we're all terrified of the fortnightly Latin teacher, and going squishy-eyed at cute baby seals. We have Geography sessions!

Admittedly, they involve cake, somehow, but they also necessitate maps and tribal warfare team games.

See, sorted. Now don't look to count them as neets, thanks.

Wednesday, 4 December 2013

Film Family Fun

...I made Shark watch Jaws.

Tuesday, 3 December 2013

Let's copy China. What a great idea!

Well, here we are, living in home ed la-la land, then I have to go and spoil it all, making reference to the outside world, the one that starts at the line where my front door protects us (even though the door handle always falls off); the door stands there still, door to my home, gate to my castle, place where Mr Gove and all the little Ofsted pixies will never tread, unless I am ambushing them with boiled oil and a dead goat, if they dare.

Anyhow, PISA.

What a ridiculous thing to do. Rank your country via tests for children, and then judge yourselves as failing this and failing that, we must make the children work harder. They are slackers, loafers, and they are causing our country TO FAIL.

Are you all turned mad?

Say, I have a great idea! Why don't we create an international ranking of creativity, then issue all four-year olds with an orange, command DRAW THAT, and rank England better or worse than China, based on the International Creative Orange Quotidian Indicator Assessment Framework Initiative. I could listen to John Humphrys shake his surly locks and sternly ask how could we English, nearly Jerusalem, be quite so bad at the ICOQIAFI. What has gone wrong, so very wrong?

Pay attention to PISA then, if you must, if you want to construct little Chinese-copy-scholars whose days start at 6am, and whose homework ends at 10pm, for this will save you the playgrounds maintenance.

Be aware, be very aware, playgrounds for children over the age of five are virtually non-existent in your PISA-loving world. You will find a youth training camp, sure, but the PLA do not approve of play with a y: all that free-ranging, free-thinking, free-shifting, imagination-mixing, possibility-enhancing, multi-perspective-making, childhood play.

But when you've had enough of being told Tinkertop, aged 6, is never going to be good at PISA - she's a failure at representing her country, she's not making the grade, she's not taking the weight of our national expectations, her performance is too poor, and all is lost, lost, lost, you damned parent, this is all the fault of your low ambitions - when all she wants to do is dig a frikkin' hole in the ground, then remember, home education is still, as yet, an option.

Monday, 2 December 2013

Geography at the shopping centre

Dear Central Milton Keynes Shopping Centre, I would just like you to know that Squirrel is outraged by your sales and security staff.

Here we are, all fired up with Chapter 4 of a Geography IGCSE - in which we must find out how raw materials are processed then sold, what LICS are, and how Monsoon pull that slippery branding trick on a frock stitched in a Chinese Special Economic Zone - and we don't even get thrown out of your shoe shops. It simply isn't good enough.

I set our lovely home ed Geography group the activity of finding out where goods have come from. For this one, Squirrel and Shark decide to take themselves off to a shoe shop. Shark sat down with a clipboard while Squirrel picked up every boot on sale yelling out the country of manufacture. Shark solemnly wrote it all down. (Brazil, mostly.) After ten minutes, no-one had challenged them. No-one at all. Shark began flapping her clipboard about and Squirrel began sticking her head under the display racks, shouting out random nation names in the hope of being arrested. Mexico! Spain! India! Burkina Faso! Nobody paid them a blind bit of notice. Nothing. Nada. Zilch.

Now this could be the ordinary range of behaviour any ordinary teenager can exhibit in a shoe shop in Central Milton Keynes on a Monday morning, when we are all supposed to be under threat by terrorists and extremists, and they are supposed to be in school.

If so, I am delighted. Squirrel, as I said, was not. She felt it was the duty of all shoe shop uniform holders to come out their holes and provide a free lecture on third-sector economy. Failing that, to kick them out. I suggested next time, they could ask for a floor manager and pump him with questions until he covertly bribed them with chocolate to go away. After all, it was a strategy that worked in Tesco.

Catching up with a gentle economics questionnaire in CMK's Winter Wonderland.

Sunday, 1 December 2013

This is where they can lead you

This is Toddington Service Station at 3am.

I only post the photograph here so you do not need to travel yourself to stand in the small hours of a Sunday morning, in this happy location on Junction 12 of the M1.

But if you were to be seduced by the bright lights of Toddington Service Station at 3am, then you could stare rigidly ahead at nothing in particular, until a member of the all-night staff asks you if you are alright.

Thanks to lack of sleep and not because you are smashed on vodka, but he is not going to believe that, you can wobble slightly, fall over your own feet, and respond with slurred, incoherent speech that you are just fine and dandy, whatever that means, I have no idea, the brain was still in bed just off Junction 14, I distinctly remember leaving it there some time ago.

Well, the Woodcraft Folk only made me wait half an hour, so I suppose I cannot be too cross with them.

And if you were midnight skating at Ally Pally, thinking you were turning up for a quiet spin round the ice, then hoards of strange juveniles appeared from all over London, the Shires and East Anglia, I suppose you have a glimpse of their bizarre ways, too.