Friday, 8 March 2013

Well, whadya know?

Remember me talking about that damned English GCSE (or rather IGCSE)? Well I was hoping he would pass. He has. Apparently he got an A*. I am awaiting confirmation in the post. Because how could he get an A*, having never done English formally until the age of 16, about 3 months before he took the exam? And let's keep in mind that by formal English lesson, I mean doing stuff from the syllabus book with your nagging mother. :-) Maybe once or twice a week, except for the three weeks around Xmas, and all those times he had gigs, and was just too busy.

This may say something about how marvelous The Boy is. Or how daft the exam system is. Or that having interesting conversations with kids teaches them all sorts.

But I think it is obvious the real the lesson here is that nagging pays off.

Tuesday, 5 March 2013

Wrong again...

So I am listening to the Today show, and some Tory going on about how primary education is where the focus should be so that kids can carry on through secondary. They are raising 'targets' for what kids need to know or do by the time they leave primary school.

Which is completely backward thinking! I would like to spend hours writing about why I know this is crap. But quite frankly I am tired - from having to live and raise my kids in a pretty crap, backward thinking, all about the money, target focused, kind of world.

But actually, we should leave primary aged kids alone. They should play. They should see good examples of human beings exhibiting, you know, humanity. They should be hugged and told they are effing fantastic!? We should answer their questions. That is how kids learn things. By wanting to. By being encouraged and seeing people around them curious about the world. By being human.

Everything about our education system in inhuman. It inhibits creativity. It inhibits the natural curiosity that we are born with. It inhibits maturation. It inhibits learning in all its forms.

And the government always want to do MORE of it.

Over 20 years of home educating and being around home ed kids has shown me that when kids get to be about 12 or 14, they naturally want to start learning in a more focused and structured way. That is, provided they haven't already spent years in an institution and are still healing from it.

It seems to me that if we are going to have schools (which is a whole other debate) then really, primary should be all about pastoral care, fun, learning coping mechanisms by example, not from a curriculum, being democratic, and compassionate, having stories told to you and read to you, being listened to, allowed to be quiet or creative or loud in turn, and having more FUN! Then money should be put into options in secondary schools so that kids who want to take apart car engines and build towers and learn Japanese and make messes and do history or reenact history, or do exams in whatever subjects they want, should have the resources to do those. And not to any timetable.

But today, I am just an angry ranting woman. Politicians play with the fate of the  nation's children, and the children grow up unhappy and unable to think for themselves. Crap.

Wednesday, 6 February 2013

Happy New Year!

So it is Feb and I am finally getting around to thinking about the New ~Year. Hello 2013! Seems like only yesterday  I was making fun of all those people who thought the world was going to end in 2000. :-)

Things are bopping along nicely. Thanks to You Tube and  Peep and the Big Wide World and Al having a week off work. When I get a few things done, I have the time and motivation to do things like this, make hedgehog bread. :-)


The Babe is heading in the direction of being frustratingly independent, like a couple of her siblings before her. The Meister is educating herself in the world according to Joss Whedon, and The Boy is playing me lots of music.  Ok, he is playing music and I am listening and pretending I have some sort of talent and singing along. He has settled in at college very well.

I think a lot of last year was actually quite difficult for me. It was a year of change for our family about which I have moaned and blogged pretty frequently. The Changeling is now at uni, She who has flown the Coop (who shall henceforth be known as Truffle since they are all going to fly the coop) is happily settled in Bristol with the boyfriend and a job having graduated from uni, and my house seems curiously civil much of the time with only 3 children in it.

So, time to focus on me. I want 2013 to be my year of change. And funnily enough, thinking about me means that I am being a better parent. I have been to a post grad fair and really want to do an English Studies MA. But we have no money, so who knows how that is going to happen. Some time soon, I will do something about it.

My favourite  day of the week at the moment is the day of the English group I am running for a few home ed kids, including The Meister. I get to use my brain, as well as the overhead projector I got on Freecycle. :-) This is not a group geared toward any exam, but I am hoping to introduce them to critical writing and literary language which will help should they go on to do GCSEs.  There are a couple of 12 year olds, a 13 year old and 4 14 year olds. They are all avid readers, but are getting different things from the group. Some are very much ready for further study and others are just getting exposed to things they may come back to in the future. But it seems to be working, and we have grown rather than shrunk so I guess I am getting it mostly right.

The Boy had his English IGCSE exam in January, having only started in October, so I am keeping fingers crossed for a passing grade. I find it very easy talking about and teaching a wide range of subjects, (it is called conversing) but the exam system is still very foreign to me. It doesn't seem to have much to do with actual ability or understanding. And yet, we still need to jump through the hoops. Even though The Boy is at college and doing very well (since we had parent's evening last week) he still needs to get his English qualification  which they couldn't really help him get. I reckon he is better than the Key skills or functional skills they had on offer.

So fingers crossed and we are waiting for March for results. I know he is articulate. I know he has a good vocabulary. I know he has a sound understanding of grammar and punctuation.  But I don't know if he knows how to take an exam.

So if we managed it well, then we will get on with The Meister's  several GCSEs that she wants to do!

And it will all be fine, so long as I keep getting to use my brain, and eat cake, and go to Pilates and get to have some child free time. Money would always help, too. Or a good night's sleep.

 Any offers?!