Hazel Davis and her fella have decided to home-educate their kids. This week, she wonders what exactly she signed up for when she made that choice.
I am a simple soul. (No, really I am). Last week someone introduced me by email to a friend she thought I would get on with. She seems really lovely and interesting and asked me lots of questions about me and my work and my creative values. I am still trying to think of a response.
I tend to clam up or panic when people ask me to talk about “what I stand for” and, believe me, it’s not for lack of words or willingness to talk about myself. It’s because, well, I am probably just too busy existing to think too much about it.
But several events over the last few weeks have led me to give what it is I “stand for” some thought. When my partner and I started this – still very fledgling – home-edding journey we did it from nothing more than a gut feeling that it was the best thing to do for all of us.
I don’t think I am better than teachers (good God, they do a tough job and, if anything, I am full of awe for most of them) and I don’t want to fuck the state (I actually want the state to be better, which is a different thing). Really, all I want is for my children to be happy and healthy and learning in a way that suits them. And that’s what seems to be happening, so far.
I come to this lark – and yes I am going to call it a lark for now, thanks; my kid is not yet five – with a completely open mind. If it doesn’t work out in a few years we will look at school again if it seems to be the best thing at the time. We are supremely lucky to live in a place where this is still possible. For the record, I dearly hope it always stays that way and so does everyone else on this same journey.
“There are no ‘school system’ values – obviously because it’s the norm and nobody needs to prove themselves in the way that home-edders constantly have to.”
Along the way I am meeting some inspiring and interesting people, some of whom I agree with, some of whom I don’t (and vice versa). No doubt this would also be happening if I had launched headlong at the primary school gates.
What is different, however, is that were I to be sending my child off to primary school like some of her friends, I might feel less pressure to subscribe to a specific set of values. There are no ‘school system’ values – obviously because it’s the norm and nobody needs to prove themselves in the way that home-edders constantly have to.
I have spent my life not quite feeling I fitted in with whole swathes of society (women, other mums and everyone I went to school with). It’s taken me till my late 30s to realise I didn’t need to. And that plenty of other people feel the same too. But at the moment I feel like the decision to home-educate also carries with it a whole set of other lifestyle beliefs that I suddenly feel expected to subscribe to.
These assumptions are not only made by people who think we’re bonkers for doing it but also people who embrace it wholeheartedly. I struggle with these attitudes from both sides. The truth is that my other half is doing more of the Actual Edding than I am anyway so, while I continue to juggle it with work and because I am a woman, I feel I am somehow obliged to fit a mould I am not quite sure how (or even why I want to) to pour myself into.
What I’m trying to say is, “Dudes, I have no agenda. I’m just trying to do the best I can, OK?” (said in the voice of Jovie from Elf).
Read all of Hazel’s adventures in home-edding here.2309 Views
Hazel Davis is a freelance writer from West Yorkshire. She has two tiny children but the majority of her hours are taken up with thinking about Alec Baldwin singing sea shanties and the time someone once called her "moreishly interesting".