Thursday, 1 October 2009

Oh, Baby, Baby - It's a Wild World

This blog was first published on The Bournemouth Echo's website and by The Blog Paper on 24th September 2009.

About 5 minutes ago, I had a baby – hang on ... it was over 12 years ago – but my instinct to protect my son hasn’t decreased with the years and is probably more highly developed now, than it ever was when he was a babe-in-arms.

It’s been a roller-coaster of a week ... starting off with my son, once again, having been most dreadfully upset at being given “a hard time” at school and being distressed at being disrupted in his lessons by classmates whose only ambitions in life appear to become shelf-stackers at supermarkets.

Once again, on collecting from school, a very sullen and disgruntled little boy got into my car. And a very vociferous little boy started the familiar routine of pleading with me to be home-educated. I have to say, that home-education is a thought that crosses my mind with great frequency but I’ve always discounted it as I know my son and I also know myself pretty well. I quite simply would not have the patience to educate my son, myself, at home.

I am an impatient person and have a tendency to metaphorically tap my fingers in a most irritating fashion when people don’t “catch on” quickly enough for my liking – not an ideal trait for imparting anything to my son who, if he doesn’t want to know what one is talking about, is a manipulative little “wotsit” and will quite deftly bring the conversation around to what HE wants to discuss. We would not be a good teacher/pupil combo!

I wrote a polite but firmly worded letter to my son’s class teacher and also the headteacher querying why there appeared to be so much disruption in his school and why was he not getting what either he, or I, considered to be a fair crack at the whip at a decent education. Yesterday I received a call from the headteacher assuring me that my queries would be looked into and meanwhile, he’d spoken to my son who had voiced his grievances most eloquently and was now considered by the headteacher to be a child with whom it would be most useful to “have regular meetings”. I asked why. Apparently, as a “mature child”, he can impart very articulately what’s “going on” in his class. I wondered for a nano-second if I was going quite mad and then couldn’t help myself but say: “That’s NOT HIS JOB; that’s YOUR job. My son’s responsibility at school is to be a decent kid, commit to learning things and to try his very hardest to do that. And YOUR responsibility is to teach him stuff – not ask him to be your undercover man to find out “what’s going down in his year”.

Of course, son is now back to “running on calm” at school – helped, not least, by having been elected to be Form President ... although there didn’t appear to be much competition to gain this role. (I think I refuse to believe that any vote-rigging occurred). Nevertheless, son feels somewhat vindicated and seems to want to give his classmates a forum to express how they’re feeling and a forum for HIM to ask them why they feel the need to disrupt classes.

And I am confused. And the thought of home-education crossed my mind to such an extent in the last week that I’ve actually made enquiries about it and asked for some advice. Some advice was for and some against. I’ve decided that I come down more on the side of the “against” camp than on the side of the “fors”. Someone said to me that school isn’t JUST about education – there are other, equally important factors – such as social interaction with people who one may like or one may whole-heartedly dislike but it’s necessary to learn the skills needed to cope with both. And, so, my son who, of course, is still my baby IS going to have to learn that it’s a wild world.

But no-one can stop me from worrying!


  1. Josh is the best source of info on 'issues' with classmates so I don't agree that it's not his job to report. Best to let him get on with it all IMHO. If you get too close, he WILL play on your feelings and exaggerate etc. Having said that, it's vital you are there for him in extremis. I'll send you a link re home-schooling

  2. I still rather think that it is teaching staff who should know what's going on in their classes ... but I was educated in a time when teachers, headmasters AND parents had greater control over children than ever they do these days - sadly, to the detriment, I believe of this generation and those to come. Thanks for link to article re. home schooling - will check it out.

  3. See even here you are dividing your 'brilliant' son from his 'shelf-stacker' classmates. No wonder he was given a hard time if he absorbed any of that attitude.

    I'll say it again, being part of a community means you ahve a responsiblity (particularly to the local school) to ensure that you do what you can to give equal opportunities to ALL. That sometimes means changing from within - don't come running for sympathy when your son faces bullying or worse in life from those with few aspirations if you have done nothing to teach him how to cope in the world.