Tag Archive | life

Little girls no more

20161107_145832 I’m spending the next few days with these lovelies; the little girls from ‘A Funny Kind of Education’ although they’re not so little any more.

I asked if I could have a picture of them for the blog whilst we were together, as they live and work independently now and readers often ask how they ‘turned out’ having read the story.

I’m sure ‘turned out’ meant educationally, but as you can see, they look quite okay too, as well as being intelligent, competent, functioning and independent. Some folks ask in a way that suggests they’re expecting to see something different to ‘okay’, since they didn’t go to school – two heads or something equally weird!

But no; here they are, all grown up and gorgeous; what more can I say? Except that no doubt yours will be the same one day.

Hard to imagine but inevitable. Enjoy your days with them while you have them, whilst I pop off and enjoy mine!

Education and School don’t always overlap!

Remember me saying I find stuff about education in the most unlikely places? Saw this quote in an Art book the other day (‘Steal Like An Artist’ by Austin Kleon) and thought I’d share it as my post today, to maybe get you thinking about yourself for a change as well as the children!

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So nice to have what I’m always saying endorsed!

It’s the ongoing life’s work of all of us to educate ourselves, as much as it is all parents’ job to take responsibility for the children’s, rather than always abdicating it to schools, for learning can take place within our lives all the time, not just in institutions and on courses.

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Just for today though, think about your own education. By demonstrating it’s importance in this way you’ll also be indirectly educating the kids. This book might not do it for you, you might be inspired by Instagram or cookery, but inspiration is just another route to education. Go find some for yourself!

The fine line between boring or crisis

We had a terrible crisis last winter. It could have been so much worse.

Appreciating a moment's equilibrium

Appreciating a moment’s equilibrium

It was a road incident that was a hair’s breadth away from being an awful fatality that we’d live with forever, due to the irresponsible behaviour of a drunk.

He staggered oblivious out into the main road in front of our car.

In the dark and driving rain, with black clothing and oncoming lights on a rural road that was not lit, there was no chance of spotting him beforehand. Although well within the speed limit we weren’t going slowly. Charley was driving. He glanced off the side of the car with a sickening thwack which made me think we’d killed someone. Thankfully not – he was hardly hurt, too drunk to even know what had happened, didn’t even go to hospital. We were scarred with the trauma of it for months – I can only just speak of it now without shaking.

Thankfully these incidences don’t happen often. When they do, the sameness of life I might have been bored with seconds before, becomes incredibly sweet.

When the shock and the anger at the perpetrator of it, who walked away unmoved, wore off I was left with the replay of the awful event that could have marred our young driver’s life for the rest of it should chance have swung the other way. It took us both a long time to settle back down to calm.

We all develop strategies over time to even out the pitch and toss of life. And to have strategies to hand is an enormously helpful skill to pass on to our youngsters. However we deal with things will be the way they deal with things. If we react with screams and drama it will not help. We have to be strong, pragmatic and move on forward with the practicalities as best we can. (Even if we crumple later).

And I also guess that these experiences are a reminder to take note, during those times of equilibrium, of what we value about life, even the boring bits, instead of always letting them slip insignificantly by.

Learning from The Shepherd’s Life!

I love finding comments on education in the most unlikely places. There was I having a bit of escapism with James Rebanks on his sheep farm in the lakes and up pops the subject again.

I wasn’t there in reality, just being bowled over by his fabulous book The Shepherd’s Life; the true and rugged story of his life on the farm, early and current. The writing wasn’t rugged though and his story not without surprises. DSC06069 (2)

I love books that don’t balk at saying it how it is, yet still captivate with a style that moves you to read on. His passion and knowledge of his subjects reignites my own, in particular the idea that there is an education that exists other than in classrooms. He talks about an education fit for purpose and respects that all lives are different, not just lived in cities, worked in banks and cultivated for industry. He talks about his dad whose encyclopaedic knowledge  of the landscape challenges conventional ideas of who is and isn’t intelligent. “Some of the smartest people I have ever known are semi-literate” he says.

Some pretty smart people I know don’t have those conventional educational labels either!

He describes his own schooling and how he felt that “the whole modern world wanted to rob me of the life I wanted to lead”.

When I read books like his it makes me think again very hard about what education is and what it’s for.

There are two ways of looking at that question. One from the point of view of society, politics and someone else deciding what’s ‘good’ for people. And another looking at it from the point of view of each of us, the fact that each of us is different – an individual, will lead different lives, and how these differences might be accommodated in a system which clubs everyone together for ease of administration and service.

Finding a balance between the two is the key. I’m not sure the system is doing that effectively right now. It has swung too far towards perpetuating a construction that clearly, for many individuals within it, is just not working well. Creating far too many individuals who feel disengaged, disregarded, disenchanted with learning of any sort, and in many ways dysfunctional as a result of being told they are failures because they don’t comply.

Sod complying with something that doesn’t work!

No one need fail at education – you have a lifelong chance at it. And we need education both for ourselves as individuals, so it’s satisfying enough to be purposeful and ongoing, and for our place within the wider planet that supports us and the society within it.

What is failing here is the system; destroying the natural passion for learning that children are born with by taking it away from them and dehumanising it.

We who are the adults, who profess to know best, should know better than that.

You won’t ruin them on your own!

Chelsea’s working so hard at the moment. She’s initiated a new production for the Brighton Fringe

A bold and thought provoking production

this year and is working on it with friends. It’s an impressive undertaking and I so admire her, tinged with concern of course at how busy she is.

I look at our two young adults now and wonder how they got to be the wonderful people they are – it’s something you always worry about as a parent, particularly a home educating parent.

I know all our experiences shape us; from childhood, school, home education, family, work, whatever. And although we can control some of the experiences our youngsters have we’ll never control all of it however much we want to keep them sweet. And we certainly can’t control how they respond to those experiences – that response is inherent in them. We won’t be able to determine that entirely.

For it is never nurture (or nature) in isolation, as the debate leads us to believe, it is the interaction between the two that determines the people our kids become. It is the youngsters’ reaction to their experiences which determine how things turn out. So that is never entirely the parents’ fault. A lot is genetic.

That’s a comforting thought when you’re parenting, particularly if you’re a home schooling parent and worrying you may be ruining the children.

Be reassured; if you are ruining them – you won’t be ruining them on your own!

In fact, I’m sure you won’t be ruining them at all, it’s far more likely that by parenting with care and respect – and I guess you care and respect otherwise you probably wouldn’t be the type of parent visiting here and reading this – you will be developing those qualities in them. And this will in turn nurture caring and respectful responses to the world from them, thereby influencing a little how they respond and what they will become.

But mostly they do it for themselves, even if they make decisions based on our attitudes.

Chelsea is inherently who she is on her own. Maybe with snippets of attitudes she grew up with here in her early years, but mostly she’s chosen what she reckons are the best of what she’s seen for herself. That’s what they’ve been educated to do.

And seeing the choices she is making I can only be proud!

Singing of holidays

spring16 003I’ve been editing my new Home Ed book; one just for all those wobbly days when you wonder what the hell you’re doing! It’s to reassure you you’re doing good, because I remember what it’s like when your mind turns deceitful and messes with your confidence. This book is to get it back on track.

I’ve been determined to get it done, it’s a lot of work and I’m that stuck to keyboard I think my fingers now have square ends. And I also get slightly loony when I’ve been shut inside, too still, for too long.

So I’m just a bit desperate to prise bum off chair and get outside; enjoy the Spring delights this weekend even if it is in the rain.

Delights like:

– Rippling Lark song as they sing over their territories and show off to a mate. When did singing stop being a way to show off to a mate? Have you sung to a mate lately? The blackbird is the best at it; I hear him morning and evenings on branches and rooves and TV aerials.

– The perfume of the soil. I guess you don’t often hear soil described as having perfume. But the scent of it turned under the harrows, drying in the Spring winds, is as delectable as the smell of the shore when you roll up at the seaside. I drink it in.

– More light than dark hours in each twenty four, increasing every day till the solstice – fair makes my sap rise! When my sap rises I feel I can achieve anything – bit like the Lark. Even singing.

– The beginnings of buds, blooms and blossom that decorate all natural spaces wherever I go – rural or urban, from the tiniest green jewels on the hawthorn hedges to the blousy buds of the magnolia in town gardens.

This is how I’ll be celebrating this Spring weekend – hope you find some delights too and enjoy yours whatever you’re doing.

Happy holidays!

Kids and comfort zones

The recent storms were challenging weren’t they!

And I don’t even have to work out in it like some of the people I see on the land.

I can go out in it if I wish – or not. My work is otherwise snug and comfy at the computer in the warm.

However, I did dash out in it at times, pushed myself out in the ripping storms and battalions of wet that blasted across the flatlands, one after the other. I ran from hedge to hedge whilst the worst passed over, coveting a bit of shelter for a while like the rabbits do judging by the droppings. The dog has got wise to this strategy and butts up to a bush with a miserable face, not understanding the value of pushing past the comfort line sometimes.

But I know it’s the best remedy for Indooritus. That disease which sludges up the soul when I’m shut inside, inactive, inert, for far too long.

Pushing beyond always being comfy develops so many parts of us we wouldn’t give it credit for, even confidence. It gives us different experiences, stimuli, sensations, which arouse parts of us which may go unused. You know what they say; use it or lose it. That goes for brain, muscles, heart, all organs and all senses.

And pushing ourselves through a bit of challenging discomfort is an example to the children that it is sometimes worth it. For, as parents, we spend quite a lot of our time following the opposite path.

It is the nature of our parenting to care and cherish. Feed and shelter. Protect and provide. Always look to their comfort, naturally, since they were babies, from their warm fed tummies to their shiny shod toes. We see to their needs, answer their demands, pander to their whims. Of course we do. Mums are genetically primed to do so; we almost can’t help it. We want them to be safe, happy, snug. Why on earth then, should we ever make them uncomfortable?

Well, the reason is that uncomfortable is going to be pushing their boundaries a bit, showing them parts of themselves that they maybe hadn’t known. Giving them opportunities for achieving things they never thought they could. And the consequence of achievement – whatever it is and however small – is feeling good. Building confidence.

It may not seem like it at the time. But sometimes we have to do the deeds for the feelings later.

It doesn’t have to be going out in a gale, although that’s very stimulating. It could be eating different

Nipped out at a time of day I'd usually be comfy indoors and was rewarded with a sight I normally miss - moonrise!

Nipped out in the descending dark when I’d usually be comfy indoors and was rewarded with a stirring sight that made it worth it – moonrise!

food, trying a new activity or exercise, meeting new people, going out at a time you wouldn’t normally, walking a different route, switching off the technology for a day! Examine your comfort routines and break out of them on occasion.

My cheeks were chilled and my clothes were wet by the time I got back in – and I was certainly glad to do so. But my soul was singing and excited. I rarely feel like that when I’m still. Or doing the same thing in the same way, day after day.

And it’s so worth showing your kids that pushing out from comfortable will on occasion make their soul sing too!