OK, so I was going to try out reading and thinking more, and then writing less often, but with added thought. I am in the process of doing this but in the meantime, I have to report how important lessons ‘in the big world’ are – as compared to doing ‘school at home’. We bumped into a teacher from Edward’s ‘old old school’, the bilingual one that was Edward’s ‘Arabic experiment’ as I call it! A perfectly good school, for a school, but no good for a kid who absolutely refused to learn Arabic – feeling that it has nothing to do with him (it’s half his heritage, but that just doesn’t register with him. Edward is very logical and he couldn’t see the need for it. English is do dominant here, it wasn’t an easy argument to win short-term).
We bumped into his old-old teacher Robert at an animal show in the desert. Robert was taking a school group around it. He was looking truly frazzled and bit dazed. He was surprised to see Edward there on a ‘school’ morning and immediately asked how his ‘new’ school was. Edward replied, with such joy, as he always does these days, “I don’t go to school anymore. I’m a homeschooler!” and Robert replied, very smartly, “And this is your lesson today!” Robert’s American and so is probably pretty familiar with homeschooling. He didn’t seem too fazed. He was right; the animal show was the lesson. My kids are so urban that they hardly know what sound a cow really makes, what a ‘moo’ actually sounds like! Let alone the difference between a sheep’s ‘baa’ and a goat’s ‘maa’! It’s not quite so bad that they think animals wear clothes like in one of their favourite books, ‘Franklin’, but almost! So an opportunity to peruse animals, admittedly not in their natural state, but in small pens, was important I felt. It was great going on a ‘school day’ because there were only a few school parties, the rest of the place we had to ourselves.
The animals were an important lesson, some of the time in how they ought not to be looked after I’m afraid, but the humans we came across were possibly a more important ‘real world’ lesson. In the evening, we arrived an hour early to watch the Jerez horses from Spain doing their incredible (although now I’m wondering cruel?) tricks (I’m sure they’d prefer the word ‘performance’ but ‘tricks’ is what it looked and felt like). I was especially excited because my husband and I had gone to Jerez years ago to see the horse show (before I thought it might be cruel) only to find it closed! New Year is big in Spain and everything is closed for days. And we’d booked through a ‘Spain specialist’, what a disappointment! And then years later, the horses are here in Bahrain, about the most unexpected place to find them in the world! Hence my eagerness to secure good seats. One doesn’t do this lightly with small children but we came equipped. But as soon as the show began, ‘the locals’ (I think I was the only blondie in the whole place that was, by now, absolutely heaving with Bahranini humanity) swarmed in front of us to get the best view. My kids could see nothing but large black and white bottoms (black belonging to women in abayas, white to men in dishdasha – the most popular local clothing. Not the kind of local clothing that’s ever emulated by expats, unlike perhaps pakol hats in Afghanistan or tie-dye anything in Jamaica!) Edward was amazing; he tried on several occasions to reason with these adults, asking them politely to move so he could see the show. I so admired his courage and self-confidence, to do this without my help. They ignored him though – can you imagine, he a child!
This was bad enough, but when I eventually got up to defend my children’s right to view the show, with extreme politeness given that not only was I modelling good manners for my children but I was seriously outnumbered and representing blondies everywhere, this woman turned on me, cursing my eyes (for some reason, their blueness offended her?) It was surreal. She and her large, in every sense, brood were obviously doing something extremely selfish and wrong for the rows and rows of patiently seated people behind them, yet she was shouting at me, ‘How dare you speak to me?’ I tried reasoning further with her but gave up before I lost my temper, ruining the good manners lesson, and shortly afterwards we gave the whole thing up and went home. As we left, I said to the kids, “Those people don’t, I’m afraid, have any education. They don’t know any better.”
Edward answered, and this is hysterical to me considering the hours I think about this subject, “What do you mean ‘they don’t have any education’?” I don’t know exactly what bit he didn’t understand but if it was the word ‘education’, that would be ironic. I worry about my children’s education about 25 hours a day 😉 But, perhaps kids these days never hear that word much because anything to do with education is usually to do with ‘school’! Well, he’ll be hearing it a lot more often now, especially if I can remember to use the term I prefer for what we’re doing, which is ‘home educating’ rather than ‘homeschooling’. I explained that those people’s parents had never told them that you should consider other people when you act. Those people had never been told that it is selfish and inappropriate to walk in front of other people when they are seated watching something. They might get shouted at if they did it at home whilst their family watched TV but the lesson had never got further out of the front door than that. I said that these people were rude but I felt sorry for them, that they were so uneducated, that this was one of many differences between developing and developed countries. I love living here but that kind of thing drives me crazy! He found it quite a fascinating experience. Petra had been seemingly oblivious to the whole thing, preferring to spend her evening playing under a blanket than showing any interest in watching the show, so that was a relief!
What better education than that? Would Edward have learned anything more valuable stuck in a classroom or indeed stuck at home in the evening, too afraid to go to bed late because of school the next day? We always had to have him in bed on time, not so much so he could learn properly the next day, but so he could cope with the stress of being at school the next day, every day. I’m so glad that’s over! In that lesson ‘in the real world’, Edward and Petra learned how different people are, in different countries. They learned a bit about the importance of ‘having an education’ and that it isn’t all about whether you get into a good University or not!
This is a nice little piece about how lessons in the ‘real world’ actually equip you to live in the ‘real world’, in opposition to most people’s views that homeschooling doesn’t prepare kids for the ‘real world’ at all (see, I have been doing some reading and thinking ;)! http://www.unschoolingblog.com/?p=61#content
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