BoyTwinCousin and GirlTwinCousin have departed. Lovely kids, and I would gladly have them here to
incite them to rebellion against the educational hegemony of National Curriculum expectations spend a lively few days with Small, Smaller and Smallest learning about social justice, trapeze artistry and how wonderful God is during any half-term or SATs week. And in the interests of parity of experience, I’d love for Small and Smaller and Smallest to spend a week at the school attended by BoyTwinCousin and GirlTwinCousin and being put to bed at. 6.55pm and proselytised into atheism by their parents, though I’d hypocritically nevertheless insist upon it all being a vegetarian experience.* In the same way that there are now diversity-celebrating and social cohesion-enhancing exchange trips between different schools and youth clubs within the UK, maybe we should establish an exchange programme bringing together schooled and home educated children?
Or should we? The past week has taught me so much about how flexible and adaptable children are that I am beginning to question that value of approaching questions of educational and social diversity with children too young to regard themselves as different from one another. It’s us parents who fall out with one another over how our children should be educated, and us home educating parents who fall out over how they should be home educated.
So maybe, we should just leave our children to play together: home educated, schooled, all of them.
Just to play. When I was the age that Small and Smaller, GirlTwinCousin and BoyTwinCousin are now, I’d just changed schools from John Adams Primary to Farnon Street Juniors. A few months in, I remember an older family friend anxiously wondering how I was coping with now being in a class that contained so many ‘coloured’ children. I remember being confused by the question, because the children in my class at Farnon Street liked the same stickers and skipping games as the children at John Adams, and surely skin colour shouldn’t make a difference to how nice children are to play with. The world being as it is, I’m sure those ‘coloured’ children had sadly already known for years what difference skin colour makes, making it therefore important as well as inevitable that I should learn about racism too.
Nevertheless, in reflecting upon that experience, I’ve come to realise that perhaps, by emphasising and discussing Small and Smaller, GirlTwinCousin and BoyTwinCousin some of the differences between the home educated and schooled worlds and lifestyles, I’ve likewise been imposing my adult categories of ‘difference’ onto childhoods within which it is all irrelevant anyway. Home educated children are not subjected to the same discrimination, violence or microaggressions that ethnic minority children, LGBT+ children and girls constantly… and so maybe the schooled-home educated distinction is just not a big deal. It only becomes a big deal when home educating parents get bullied. or when the state attempts to oppress home educating families. But that’s about the attitudes of adults, not children.
So rather than an exchange programme for children, perhaps we need an exchange programme which helps the parents of schooled children to understand and appreciate the lives of home educating parents. And vise versa, maybe, too.
* Hi there Brother and SisterInLaw. Do hang out on this blog any time. Nothing I wouldn’t say to your faces. All in love.