Friday, 11 July 2014

Do you want to go to prison?

Prison life, I wonder what it is really like. I have heard that some inmates prefer the life, find the strict institutional nature feels safe and comfortable enough. We might think this is strange, but I guess if you have spent most of your life in prison, it might begin to feel comfortable.

Why would anyone choose prison? I am guessing outside life might be too hard, no job, bad relationships, bad habits that lead to crime. When you look from the outside the loss of freedom and choice seems massive, that lovely freedom to wander in fields or mountains, to have picnics with friends, BBQ's, to spend time with people that you love. You aren't locked in to a confined space with people that may hate you. 

Things about prison I wouldn't choose: being locked in everyday, guarded by prison guards, told what to eat, you can't leave when you want to, you have to wear a prison clothes, there are high fences around you and you don't get to choose who you are locked up with. 

Parents are being criminalised for choosing what they believe is best for their kids, but now both parents have criminal records for doing this. 

How is this right? How is this best for the children concerned? I would have been incredibly stressed as a kid if my Mum & Dad were potentially facing a prison sentence. All this couple did was take their children out of school for 12 days which weren't approved by the Head. That is it! 

So my reason for discussing prison is to say, so school is basically kid prison now? You can't leave when you want to even if your parents sincerely believe you need to have a holiday, because of family stress? 

So as my youngest son says, why do kids go to prison everyday? He looks through the schools high fences and sees kids locked up, wearing all the same clothes, with supervisors watching over them to check on their behaviour. Apparently some school kids feel the same, according to this news article they tried to tunnel out of school, under the 12ft security fence! 

I hear parents tell me how there has been a letter home explaining to parents that they can only have certain foods in their pack lunches, and must wear certain colour socks, this all sounds very strange to my youngest who has never been to school, he can see it from outside eyes for exactly what it is, kid prison. He read the above news article today and came and discussed it with me, he can't believe that parents are being treated like criminals. 

I know this blog might be offensive to some parents who are happy with their kids school experience,  but I want people to see there may be a different dimension to living, learning and growing that their kids are not experiencing, a freedom that when you are living in it, makes the institution of school seem strange and prison like.

Sunday, 6 July 2014

How to master Home Education...

I love sailing and the sea.  The power and drama of the ocean, the tales of adventure at sea, the stories of explorers and pirates. I have sailed against spring tides, which makes you move backwards, I have landed on islands.
Spot me.

 I have raced in Tall Ships Races, been hit by line squalls. I have capsized, climbed rigging and been becalmed in the North Sea.

 I have done kayaking, rowing, motor boats; you get the picture, I LOVE water activities and the whole romance of the sea.

The sea is so majestic, I also collect picture of lighthouses with waves crashing against them, I am drawn to the sense of power. The sea changes with the tides, seasons, it is unpredictable and uncontrollable.

I was chatting with a friend today about how kids learn and I can't help going back to sea analogies. We discussed the fact that learning is not linear, you can't draw a nice straight line graph to plot your kids progress, its more like the waves of the sea, you have peaks of obvious progress and time when your child seems to resist all input, like the sea with drawing from a beach. This all seems to change with the seasons. Its not something you can predict or control.

What if you have a course set, you have a particular heading in mind, like reaching the coast of Finland from England and you have to contend with the sea and its moods. 

Sailors have to understand how to harness the wind, and consider the tides. When sailing in to the wind you can't sail in the direction you want to go, you have to tack, zig zag slowly towards the heading. This is what we need to do as Home Ed. parents, we have to understand that changing direction, doesn't mean we are not progressing, if for a time our child was enjoying and learning well  from a particular maths course, but suddenly loses all interests, its ok. Just change tack, turn your boat, find a different ways to love maths, go outside and count cars, or cut up apples to understand division. Its ok to change tack, you are still heading on the same course, just adapting to the wind and sea. 

There are times when you can be sailing hard on a 'reach' here is a video of someone doing this, the wind is behind you and pushes you forward, its a great feeling, but if the tide should change and its a spring tide you can be sailing hard forwards at the same time as being pushed backwards by the water, you make little or no progress, or even move backwards. A spring tide is very powerful. The only way to deal with this is get a tow or change direction and land somewhere else.

I think this is like when you feel that sense of progress with the kids and suddenly you get that phone call informing you that your landlord wants to sell the house you are living in, or that someone you love is suffering and needs you. Get a tow, or pull in. When we had to move house, actually 3 times in 5 years, we had to change tack every time, so we decided the best learning for the kids was experiencing the whole house move process, so we took them to solicitors we showed the how we searched for houses, looked around houses and dealt with estate agents.

I will always love the sea and its defiance of man's designs to master it. I think we need to relax and go with the wind and tide with learning and just know, you can't master it, but you can ride the wave.

My today...

Today is the only day you get...

I went out early this morning to walk my dogs. I absolutely love Sunday early morning walks. The road was empty, it felt like I had the village to myself, bliss. 

I walked in to the fields down the footpath, I spent some time kicking hawthorn hedge clippings off the path. Then headed down the path. 

I passed a beautiful fluorescent blue flower in wheat field, sitting there all alone. 

The birds were lively today, rooks squawking, sea gulls wailing, sparrows competing with black birds and skylarks flying up from the path in to the air in protest as we walked by. It's was cooler today, and it was as if the birds were gathering and commenting on the weather. I looked up as I heard a flock of geese pass overhead. Little rabbits ran off the path in terror as my dogs approached fast! 

I repeated this walk with my guest dog, as I now have a job looking after dogs. She took great delight in plunging into the stream by the path and sent up a large heron that had been hiding there.  

As I was walking back I thought to myself, this is my life, I have always had that feeling that my life was a future thing, but today is the day, the only day I have right now, it's not grand or particularly glamorous, as I started the day cleaning toilets and picking up dog poo.

 So I have made up my mind to enjoy each today. Try and notice the beauty, laugh at the small things and not be so stressed about things.