Thursday, 24 November 2016

Post-16 choices

Some discussion these last weeks about choices for post-16 home ed kids. What next? Work? College? Loafing about? So many things to do!

I'll chip in, for the benefit of family and friends, and to cause pain to one wing of my extended family who, let's face it, are basically Scared by Strange, aka Tiger, Squirrel and Shark. Home educated all their life? How is that possible?

Then here's the choice of three typical home ed kids aged 16

Squirrel. Last seen heading off outdoors. She visited the nearest Agricultural College to look up courses in forest management. The lure of the chainsaw is strong. Visits beckon, to pig farms and silos. Discussions about badgers and tractors. We have started listening to The Archers. Maybe she can marry a farmer.

But Squirrel cannot decide between Outdoors, or Art. When Not Outdoors, she is found cutting things up and sticking and gluing and composing very fine sketchbooks. From my consensus-seeking view, I have reminded her that many dedicated and original artists work outdoors! Howabout our local Linda Johns! Anyway, Squirrel is taking a year to think and to apply somewhere for a course in something for 2017. Whatever Squirrel chooses, I have promised her close involvement with a falcon.

By-the-bye, Squirrel has a clutch of IGCSEs at Grade A. At school, I strongly suspect this quiet academic industry would have condemned her to No Choice. The staff would have discounted Art (not a real subject). Squirrel's aspirations to living off-grid in a wood wouldn't blip on their radar. No, they would have geared her into 3 academic A-Levels and then 50 grand's worth of debt in a subject she didn't, at heart, want to study, because, basically, she wants to live outdoors while sticking and gluing and that, to my mind, is fantastic way to live.

As an aside, I also want to tell you about Squirrel's mission for your youth, should she ever become Minister in Charge of Primary Schools: "All primary schools should be knocked down. All primary children should be educated in fields and woods. Why are children sitting in rooms? They should learn how to conduct themselves with Nature. What do you mean, 'what if there is a thunderstorm?'. Oh alright, they can have a Shed, but only to wait in while the thunderstorm passes."

Tiger. Taking a year to begin Latin A-Level online with Cambridge, while teaching herself Ancient Greek, Old Norse and Anglo Saxon. She notes Cambridge University "has some very interesting courses". High achieving academic goals are both her strength and weakness: if she gets less than 90% from her online Latin tutor, then all is lost and, in Tiger's view, proves she's not able. We parents are working on this, while wading through her piles of papers on Runic and Phoenician scripts, to achieve perspective.

Otherwise, Tiger loves Art, and has composed lovely sketchbooks which improve all the time. But no local Sixth Form offers Latin, Anglo Saxon and Art. She may settle for conventional A-Levels in History, Art, Something else, and continue to teach herself at home.

Shark. Gets up early each morning to attend a local Sixth Form College for conventional A-Levels: Physics, Biology, Maths, Engineering. Shark chose this route and, despite my whining, she has our complete support! But we are all experiencing the Culture Clash. Shark cannot believe how much is done for kids at school. "They don't even have to look up the Specification!" (I am reeling over the cost. Blimey, if anyone tells me how state schooling is free but home ed is expensive, then I have no response for you, except the evidence of my own bank balance.) Otherwise, continuing to enjoy Sea Cadet / marine life, even when we are the furthest point from the sea in all directions we can get.

There you have it. Three very different people making their own decisions! Just think, if it had all gone wrong, we could have had three children with suppressed ambitions, facing futures they never chose with passion, or simply bullied into changing life goals, each being told to fill in the UCCA forms, whether they wanted to or not, then doing so only because they couldn't think of anything else to do, and anyway, 'everyone else seems to be doing it'.

Hurrah for choice! Yes, your world still needs Artists, Scholars, Engineers, and people whose life goals include living off-grid in a wood.

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