Friday, May 28, 2010

Politics Rules

Ooops, there went the rest of March. And April. And most of May. But look! It's not June yet, and here I am.

Shortly after my last post, the General Election date was announced...and from nowhere, Emily became absolutely fascinated, and I do mean fascinated, by politics. She's learnt (and mostly taught herself) more about politics in the last two months than I learnt in a lifetime. She thoroughly researched all of the main parties and their policies, sat glued through the TV debates, read every newspaper she could find, followed the online news, joined facebook groups, debated and discovered, learnt to recognise all the key figures and their history and sat up with me until 4am on election night, having accompanied me to vote.

And that, of course, was when the real fun began. In the days following the election, Emily was glued to the live news for hours at a time, cried at Gordon Brown's resignation speech and his following speech at Labour HQ, scorned all of the potential Labour leadership candidates, and spent numerous hours in humorous dialogue with one or other of us, much of it managing to incorporate various renditions of "I agree with Nick." She has professed herself to be vehemently anti Tory but pro LibDem and hasn't missed a move in the unfolding coalition's early days and weeks. She talks about and discusses the problems of marrying up Tory policy and LibDem policy and can tell you at great length the whys, hows and wherefores of her views on the deficit and their strategies for reducing it. A second hand book on the workings of parliament, a present from Nana and Gramps, has been devoured and she now knows more about the ins and outs of how it all works than I do. Numerous times I've started to explain something to her only to find her explaining it to me. The depth of her knowledge, from nowhere, is quite astonishing. We have a new career ambition to add to the list of course - politician (well, PM, actually, but even Emily acknowledges that she has to start somewhere, rofl!)

We're especially pleased that Emily's emerging political views are most definitely not just parroted version of our own. Jon was a political activist in his student days and has a wealth of knowledge he shares with Emily, but where as he is staunchly Labour she's much more of a Liberal at heart. She's looking into the Youth Parliament as something she might like to get involved in. We shall see.

Along with the politics, economics goes hand in hand. Really need to find some good, friendly stuff about money markets and the financial industry. I did A level economics and much of it is still a mystery to me.... lol... shows how much attention I was paying at school. I have this book but to be honest, it's not very inspiring.

OK, what else, apart from the politics? Computer programming continues with Gramps - the last major project they did was to code, in Ruby, something which controlled an external set of pedestrian traffic lights, complete with flashing to tell the pedestrians to get a move on. Here she is with the traffic lights set up, including the pedestrian crossing button :-)
We flirted with some English literature, not entirely successfully; Emily's been reading a lot herself, including the entire Noughts and Crosses trilogy (actually, there are four of them now) with its theme of racial superiority ....but she doesn't enjoy having to analyse a text. The prologue of Canterbury Tales was studied, but without enthusiasm. She had a go at a literature study of Skellig, but abandoned it as she hated the book (I liked it though). We're now working on Wind Singer by William Nicholson, based vaguely on this (PDF) Scheme of Work, but again Emily's not really enjoying it. I'm beginning to think that studying literature is one of the quickest ways to kill of a love of good books :-/ Don't know that we'll continue down that vein very long... I'd rather she just read voraciously without having to do "work" on the darn things.

There's been quite a bit of history. We finished a study of the English Civil War in our weekly library sessions with Romy, where Hazel is still doing psychology with the girls too. At home, Emily's been keen on 20th century history and has made timelines of major events in the 50s, 60s, 70s, 80s and 90s, now on our wall. Today she started on an essay tracing the changes in technology over the last fifty years, so we'll see how she gets on with that. Once that's done, we plan to start on this Dying for the Vote book, tracing the history of chartism and the suffragettes. There are other books in that series too, including the Cromwell one (which we've done) and one on King John and on the British Empire. They're quite engaging and there are free downloadable teacher's notes/sheets etc available for them all here.

We've stalled a bit in science. We're watching the Chemistry: A Volatile History series; we're also doing odds and ends of various science bits and pieces, but I'm struggling to find science stuff now that my cynical daughter doesn't consider silly AND which is doable in the home. I suspect we'll end up heading more towards a kind of environmental science angle... possibly something like this course from Planet Earth. Have now finally decided against GCSEs. We've opted out of the system this far, for this long, for such very excellent reasons....we're not going to opt back in now. Having discovered that many (most) universities accept OU courses instead of A levels, at the rate of 30 points per A level, we won't be doing A levels either. No need or point. Hurrah!

Amid all the education, Emily did of course find time to spend a whole four days in her pool during the hot weather last week :-))

I was amazed today to find that someone I went to school with in Berkshire somehow ended up teaching in North Lincs at our village school and left at about the same time we moved up here 12 years ago. She knew and had worked with Emily's "teacher". Bless her, she offered her own opinions on the disgraceful way they treated children there and sent a lovely note to Emily saying how sorry she was that Emily had come into contact with the evil Mrs S. A very strange coincidence in our small world!