Friday, 23 March 2012

Educate and Celebrate!

Celebrations and anniversaries are great educational tools. 2012 marks the 100th anniversary of the sinking of the Titanic and of the birth of the great Lancastrian Contralto Kathleen Ferrier. Apparently she was a woman with a great sense of northern humour (who sadly died of cancer at the age of 41). She was a local lass too, living for a while in Silloth near Carlisle. 
2012 also marks the hundreth anniversary of the birth of Charles Dickens (did you know he was really Charles John Huffam Dickens ? We have watched some wonderful documentaries about the places in Kent and London upon which Dickens based his novels, read about his life in Victorian England and learned Cockney Rhyming slang ,watched Great Expectations for the first time and re - watched Oliver.
Three days ago marked the Diamond Jubilee speech of Queen Elizabeth 2nd at Westminster. This was a historical moment as she is only the second British Monarch to ever reach her Diamond Jubilee (Queen Victoria was the first). My home educated son watched some of the news broadcast on television with me , and when his twin sister got home from school I told her about it and asked  whether it had been discussed at school? The answer was in the negative, as with so many 'up to the minute events' it had been misssed in the" busyness" of the national curriculum.
It reminded me that when my eldest son had just started school I met an elderly teacher who said there was no time any more to listen to what the children had been doing outside of school. She had felt terribly guilty at fobbing off a little girl who wanted to tell her about a pantomine she'd been too. In the end she made time at the end of the school day, by then the 'MOMENT' had gone.
Real life education is based on things that are happening NOW. It revolves around News reports, anniversaries, unexpected opportunities and it's relevant and exciting because you don't know where it will lead. You may have a plan but you need to be flexible enough to abandon it if an opportunity presents itself. Had I realised that our Prime Minister David Cameron was visiting our small local market town yesterday we would have jumped in the car and gone.It was obviously not meant to be as I found out too late but his visit did open up the opportunity for discussion about the pharmaceutical company he had visited, the reasons it was sited where it was and the possible environmental factors should any materials leak from the factory. All these things I'm learning because our Education system let one of my children  down. Had he not been at home I'd still be working, believing as most parents are led to believe that he was receiving a good standard of education at school (far better than they could ever give). Thank goodness I learned otherwise , you don't have to be a teacher, you don't have to be clever, you just have to love your children and do your best for them (which is what any parent would do), you don't even have to be rich.Personalised education is the best gift you can give to your child. If they show an interest in something, your job is to facilitate that interest by finding books, films, clubs, and people in the community who can help him!

 I'm off now to track down "The Letters and Diaries of Kathleen Ferrier"  by Christopher Fifield, the reviews are great and I'm told I should read it!

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