Sunday, 14 July 2013

The school dilemma again ...

Why will the school dilemma not go away? To go or not to go, that seems to be the ongoing question. At least, in my mind. This week, my eldest son received the offer of a place at our nearest boys' grammar school, for which he voluntarily took the test 'just for fun' back in September. Having reached a decision to continue to home educate him through the secondary years, this offer has rather thrown me, and him. It feels like a good opportunity, which we would be crazy to turn down. After all, he is a bright, academic, sociable boy who loves a bit of healthy competition. Perhaps he would thrive in a grammar school environment which caters for able boys. He would certainly enjoy the camaraderie, the extra-curricular activities ... What is my dilemma? Well, although the box might be wrapped a little differently, it is still a school with all the confines which school entails. We would have to dance to the beat of their drum. We would be ruled by homework needing to be completed and by the pressures of school bells. We would surrender our autonomy. Is the price worth paying? To just 'be normal'? The thing is I fundamentally disagree with the value system on which our schools are structured, with sorting according to the cans and cannots; with the lies children are fed to motivate them through years of dreary curriculum whilst their own love of learning and self-belief ebbs slowly away, making them think they can't learn without the help of a 'professional'; that they won't get anywhere in life without a handful of GCSEs; that there will be no job, no money, no happiness if they do not conform. These things simply are not true. Yet, sometimes I think it is easy for me to say ... with my handful of GCSEs and A-Levels and honours degree ... easy for me to say. My husband, who went to a private boys' school, doesn't rate the opportunity at all. Far better, he says, to know oneself, one's gifts, talents, passions. To learn, in these formative adolescent years, who I am and why I am here.

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