Monday, 10 August 2015

Friday, 7 August 2015

August 2015 already?

We are busy. We have Big Changes in the Gritty Household. By the year end, I hope to report All is Good. And not that I have taken to a park bench, where you can find me clutching a dead badger, swigging from a second-hand bottle of Vodka, and exposing myself to dog walkers. (But I reserve the option to enjoy that scenario when I am in my dotage.)

Change? Yes. We are in a countdown of our home education and we'll be doing that round of sixth form colleges come September.

In truth, I am done, finished before my children. Now I get my kicks from stitching wood bark to leather. No longer can I be moved to figure out quadratic equations. The woman who coerced Squirrel into spelling six words ending in -ible is gone. The teens under my charge are probably heaving great sighs of relief at being left alone. They can be off about their own challenges.

Incidentally, I am finding out things about living with teenagers. There is some secret Oath of Teenage where they are bound to lapse into complete indifference to all of life. If they are roused into response, then grunting is necessary. 'What shall we eat for supper?' Uh. Food. 'Would you like to go to the cinema?' Uh. What for? 'Shall we go shopping for something new to wear? Uh. No. 'Shall we flee the house? It is burning down about our ears.' Uh. Do I have to?

Still, the home ed. We had good times, eh? All running about fields; sobbing in despair; combing headlice; finding my Le Creuset used as a soil bucket; kicking the shit out the kitchen bin in a mathematically-fuelled rage; exploding vinegar and bicarb all over the kitchen; finding the mealy worm tub, empty, under the sofa; wearing the same stinking clothes until someone complained about the smell? Ah, the good old days!

But it is time to move on. In a few, short months I can use my special gesture I have been saving for the Local Authority.

If only the LA gave a rat's arse about us.

Maybe we got lucky (or maybe a flappy-mouthed blog assisted my armoury of deterrent) but no-one from the LA ever threatened this meagre home ed family with inspection, monitoring, surveillance, nor turned up on the doorstep uninvited. (I did once think someone was gaslighting me, moving the privet hedge, but it may have been one of my less stable episodes, or maybe during the Badman Era of Great Oppression.)

But I feel I am now looking back on ten years of home ed. (Thinking thank god it's nearly over and whose great idea was that?) If you are wondering about home ed, then my advice is, of course, as always, do it. Your life will be mashed, your priorities forced to change, but it is a great experience of freedom, even if you choose it just for one year.

What will I opine about when it's over? What will be the point of this blog come June 2016? I might turn it into Woman Rant.

Until then! Wot we did. Education, home-made, in this last month at Grit's.

Music. Listening, because we are each hopeless on the guitar in our own special way. Include local festivals such as the fantastic TogFest, the Folk Show on BBC Radio 2, and the Royal Opera House for Don Giovani. Home ed can be brilliant in this creative area. The best news for us parent-types is, we don't have to do much but enjoy music ourselves. In these days of t'internet, your happily wandering, multi-curious ears can take you a long, long way.

Drama. Mikron outdoor theatre, showing us a tale of ordinary working class folk with the History of Fish and Chips in One of Each. National Theatre's Everyman cinema relay. (I LOVED every second.) Shakespeare's King John at the Globe. The experimental immersive audio experience called Styx, performed by Stories Without Boundaries group, Rift in Tottenham...
..and Cambridge Shakespeare Festival's Timon of Athens. Yes, home ed parents have it easy in this creative world of ours. Especially if, like Grit, you can shut your mind from the huge economic outflow required by the theatre addiction. (We eat pasta, lentils, and rice.)

Art. MK Gallery, and the fantastically beautiful, evocative, poetic, and splendid Yorkshire Sculpture Park. MK Gallery fed us, grudgingly, and we nearly killed our Travelling Aunty in Yorkshire. (My request to the Sculpture Park is, Please, INSTALL A DRINKING FOUNTAIN.

Sports. Windsurfing (Squirrel and Tiger), rockbothering (Tiger), breathing underwater (Shark), not smashing up the car while learning how to drive it on an airfield (all of them). Another turn learning how to sail a tall ship for a week round the coast of England (Shark).

Okay, regarding the underwater life, Shark made her way to a hyperbaric chamber with a mild case of the bends, but so what? It's a sports related sub-aqua hazard. And I'm told, for your aches and pains, you can't do better than hyperbaric oxygen therapy.

Politics. Oh hear ye, People of Westminster Village. Stuff your PISAS. On the Gritty home ed curriculum for teens, we put on good solid social foundation studies acquired through talk, pointing at things, asking why, and listening to the radio: call that philosophy, psychology, economics, linguistics, and gender politics. 

Stuff. All the other stuff of everyday. Shark is getting to grips with maths while knocking out a dozen loaves of bread a week; they all run about woods with wide games (kids, not loaves of bread); Squirrel is making a set of bows and arrows from hazel wood (don't ask any questions); and Tiger is teaching herself the grammar of Old English. It is all teach-yourself stuff now.

Travel. The sort of HOLIDAY travel that any school with a league table position to protect says We do not give permission for you to take your child out of school. Because there's no learning to be had out of school, right?

No learning then, in a trek along a stretch of Hadrian's Wall; Walkworth castle; beachcombing those beautiful Northumberland beaches; Vindolanda; the Roman Army Museum; Housesteads; boat to the Farne Islands for some Puffin porn; and a stagger round Wallington with the family's dear 80-year old Aunty M. She whispered - when all was done, and we cheerily cried See you next year! - she whispered, Hopefully.

I guess there's no learning in any of that holiday mucking about because there's no exam at the end of it.

There's just, living life.