Thursday, June 19, 2008

Is it me or is it them?

It's one of those facts of life to which I am yet to become adjusted. What am I talking about? It's the near constant sense that I and a reasonable number of other HEors inhabit a universe that runs alongside but never crosses over into the universe inhabited by the large majority of people. For me, this in turn generates a near constant feeling of befuddlement, of the "is it me or is it them?" variety. Are most people completely sane to think that school is the place you go to prepare your children for civilised society? In my universe, whenever I hear yet another inside story from school, it confirms my thinking that many schools are places you send your children to train for gang warfare, but then perhaps it really is me who has lost the plot.

Anyhoo...the latest story comes from a sink school in a neighbouring authority. A young teacher there who is usually a competent disciplinarian, reports that when four months pregnant, she was pushed over backwards and knocked unconscious. Some other delightful young individual who attended the place presumably in order to be socialised also had the courtesy to inform her that he hoped her baby died in the womb.

Ho hum. The school persuaded the teacher not to press charges, for which she is now rightly furious, and perhaps this is actually the way that schools get away with it. They just pretend such disgraceful things simply don't happen.

Or is it really the case that schooling parents know all the gory details, but just think this is a normal way of life to which you must become habituated? Hm??? Come on, which is it?


Anonymous said...

I think it is 'them'. Possible reasons being:
(a) they went through school themselves and identified with the minority oppressors
(b) they believe that learning is inherently painful
(c) they don't know about or don't consider they have the personal or financial resources for home ed.

This disconnectedness between 'us' and 'them' must have been felt by heretics throughout the ages. I think it helps to remember the reasons why schools are bad. A summary might be:

Schools are bad because children are herded together which causes bullying and social shallowness. Teachers require pupils to learn stuff they're not interested in which destroys curiosity and alienates people from valuable areas of their own culture.

-- Tom

Clare said...

I think it's that schooling is so ingrained in our subconscious, that to change that takes an immense effort and sometimes a huge amount of support from everyone around you, so that however awful schools are, you just can't get your head around doing the alternative :-(

I hear so many schooling parents moaning about something and then saying 'of course, you won't have that problem HEing' and parents saying 'I'd HE if I had my time again' even though their children are still in school and they could still do it!

It's so frustrating - I have sometimes just said 'so what's stopping you HEing?' and the sad answer is often something along the lines of 'I like having a break from my children' as if, when you HE, you spend 24 hours a day 7 days a week with your children! And these people *know* me! They *know* I do loads of stuff without my children so I just have to assume that they either dislike their children so much that they couldn't even bear to spend an extra few hours a day with them, or that they really can't get their head around doing something that isn't school.

And sometimes it's because their partner doesn't want to. And I want to say 'well why don't you persuade him? Surely your children's welfare is more important to you than avoiding a few in depth explanatory discussions about HE???'.

Drives me potty!

Dani said...

I think it is true that once you are settled on a path with your children it is hard to step off it. That's true of HE as well as school. If either of my kids wanted to go to school I would find it a terrible wrench because I am happy and settled doing what we are doing, even if there are occasional bad days or things I wish were different. And because I don't think school is a good place for kids to be educated.

I don't usually challenge the people who say things like "I couldn't possibly do HE" because I think it can easily get quite personal and painful. But I guess that what they mean is "my life is set up as it is now - my kids have friends at school, I have childcare most of the time so I can go to work, nothing is pushing me to disrupt my whole life in that way". They phrase it in terms of "I couldn't possibly...", perhaps, out of politeness - presenting it as something heroic *you* are doing, rather than something strange *I*'d rather not have to think about.

I also think that most parents *don't* know the worst of what goes on at school - which is odd, because it used to happen when I was at school and presumably when they were too. But I didn't ever talk to my parents about the continuously brutal atmosphere there. I knew there wasn't going to be anything they could do to change it, and I was managing to survive without actually being attacked myself, so I had something to lose if I seemed to rock the boat. I think (for reasons given above) parents would prefer it if the story they are told by the schools were true, so they tend to believe it.

Anonymous said...

In answer to Dani: yeah, why would we tell someone who is supposed to protect us about something bad that is happening when we don't expect them to DO anything. If we don't tell them, then we can kid ourselves that they would have done something if they had known.

sorry if that's not the point you are making !

Anonymous said...

What the aggressor had in mind was probably "the less of your kind the better."

Clare said...

Fiona, this is my biggest fear when it comes to how we rear our children from birth. If we don't meet their emotional needs as babies by leaving them to cry consistently, as toddlers by putting them in 'time out' on their own when they're in distress having a tantrum, as children by leaving them at school despite them crying and begging to not be left, what on earth has given the children any evidence at all that the people they should trust most in the world will actually listen to them when they need them to?

I'm sure that at least 50% of childhood suicides must be down to this lack of trust of the child's parents to actually do something to make the child's life right :-(

But no one considers the long term implications when a HV is telling you to do controlled crying so your baby stops manipulating you :-(

Carlotta said...

I think the kind of thinking that F mentions is a very frequent post-rationalisation, the first and principal reason for not telling a parent about problems being that children who are not reared to have their needs met often don't even know what their real needs actually are, let alone that they could actually ask for them to be met.