Monday, February 01, 2010

Ice Princess & Academic Dithering

Ice skating has dominated the week. Went with Hazel and Romy to begin with, and after an initial problem with too-small skates, Emily spent a happy hour clinging to the rail at the side and slowly going round the rink. Emily and I went back for a second time later in the week - the rink was full of big teens going very, very, very fast and hanging around in groups at the edge chatting, bless 'em, but Emily gathered up her guts and spent another hour and a half pottering around, gradually getting more and more confident. She's now able to do a little bit without holding on, albeit still within hand distance of the rail. Lessons are very expensive, but I'm wondering whether we can stretch to just a couple, enough to get her really moving and away from the edge. She doesn't want lessons - Emily says she'd rather figure it out herself. She did that with swimming too - took a very long time, but she did eventually teach herself to swim well :-)) We shall see.

Work-wise at home, we did some more biology, finishing up the end of our work on cells, cancer, cell division etc. More computer programming with my Dad, which is going down very well indeed. Emily presented him with a long list of what she wants to learn, computer-wise, over the next few months (!):

• I want to learn how viruses spread and how they work.
• I want to learn to create applications that work inside a webpage.
• I want to learn how to fix windows when it *Dies*
• I want to learn how to make actual software- things like maybe a file converter, a video player, anything. And make it look professional as well.
• I want to make some kind of an anti virus program. (Loads of people have done it. Why not me?)
• I want to learn about how the system registry works.
• I want to learn how to edit programs (exe files ) (if that’s possible)
• I want to learn html.
• I want to learn more about what you can do in cmd.
• I want to learn more about how windows itself works.
• I want to make a program run every time the computer starts. ( I know its to do with system registry…)
• I want to learn what a computer is like without windows… MWAHAHAHA
• I want to learn what all the F buttons do (F1, F2, F3 ect)
• I want to learn about how worms work.
• I want to learn about rootkits
• I want to cram as many programming languages into my head as possible!!!!

OK....well, that will keep both of them out of mischief for a while!

At one point during the week, I was preparing some work on glaciers for Emily to do, following on with our mountain theme in geography - and then I hit another doubting session. She's not really interested in glaciers. She knows what they are. However, according to "those who decide what our children should learn" she ought to be able to label diagrams of a glacier and know the terminology associated with it. Great, if she were interested. She's not. So, why? I failed to find on the net or invent a way to make it fascinating for her. In the end, we didn't do it. And that set me thinking again about what she "should" be learning, why, how, when and what the point of most of it is. I learnt all about glaciers at school. Other than a general knowledge of what one is, I didn't retain any of that information and have never since needed it. Because geography wasn't "my thing" and so far, it doesn't appear to be Emily's thing either. But then again, she is interested in environmental science. So who knows? And does any of it really matter, aged 11?

And then that set me thinking again about the whole exam issue and whether or not it's important for Emily to do bloody GCSEs. Half of me thinks they're all pretty pointless. The other half of me thinks that, since Emily's not the most confident child in the world, being able to tick a few boxes might be worth it to save her the future stress of having to jump through different hoops to get onto the course of her choice, or having to "perform" in an interview with the odds stacked against her. But then again, another half of me (I'm good at maths) thinks that the Open University courses etc might well serve the same purpose but at less expense and less hassle. Yet another half of my schizophrenic home education personality thinks that it would be good for Emily to knuckle down (in due course) to serious study and examination in subjects which do delight her such as psychology, biology and law. And another half nags at me, pointing out that possibly having (say) three GCSEs, none of them in maths, is worse than not having any at all. If you're going to have them, hadn't you better have forty seven all at A****** grade? Otherwise people will pay more attention to the ones you *haven't* got or the ones where you only got a B or a C. Won't they?


For now, we've decided not to decide, again. Emily's only 11....but then again, I don't want to be faced with her doing loads of exams crammed into only a couple of years - don't think we could afford it and I don't think we could handle the organisational stress either. So if she were going to do any, I'd rather she staggered them over quite a few years, which doesn't really leave all that much time to make those kinds of decisions.

So, I'm sticking my head in the sand again. We're going to carry on doing the subjects Emily enjoys, probably scale down the efforts with the subjects she doesn't enjoy and....wait and see. My heart says a huge NO! to any kind of school related hoop jumping. My head says that's fine for a confident child who can blag their way onto any course or into any job they please by sheer force of personality...but possibly cruel or irresponsible for a child whose confidence level varies so greatly. We've opted out of the system thus far. Why on earth would we want to opt back into it for GCSEs or A levels? Conversely - why would we want to put unnecessary obstacles into Emily's path? Sand. Meet head.


Jax said...

Big is just 10 now and I'm having the same quandaries over the whole exam thing. I'm thinking that we might get maths and english out of the way because so many places require them and then hope that some interest show up to take care of any other decisions.

nocton4 said...

All in its own time.
Enjoy the now.