It’s nearly 1pm. I need to pinch myself. Is it really a school day. School at home day. So far absolutely nothing from school this week. No lesson material, no assigned work, no idea what the class is doing. Nothing. That’s three blank lessons so far.
It’s been that quiet we even checked to make sure we hadn’t got the dates wrong and school is on holiday. But no, it’s a full school day.
“What shall I do Dad then….”
Well as we have no idea what his class was doing. No idea even what subjects the class was looking at. It’s a blank sheet of paper. A good chance for Hawklad to set the agenda. Take control of what he learns. So I said what any self respecting Dad would say.
Well Son you can go and wash my car……
“No Dad. What school work shall I do.”
What one subject do you most want to learn about.
“History, definitely history. Second World War.”
Ok spend the morning indulging yourself in the that. And when you finish. You can get off your backside, go outside and clean my car 😂😂😂
And that’s what he did. He studied the Nuremberg War Trials. He so far hasn’t got round to cleaning my car. But here’s the problem. He’s taller than me so I can’t really put my foot down anymore. I might just have to do that job myself.
A quick look at this mornings weather forecast sent me scurrying outside to cut the grass. Thankfully not cutting the farmers fields. I will leave that up to the cows.
I’ve heard of sleep walking but never heard of sleep mowing…. But it felt like I was doing that this morning. Today has been hard work. The body and mind have started to grind to a halt on the back of not enough sleep. Last night it was one our kip. Similar to the night before. And the one before that……
I won’t show you my attempt at nice straight lawn stripes. Think more Salvador Dali and his Persistence of Memory painting.
Add to sleep mowing, today I added sleep working, sleep parenting and sleep housework.
I have been barely functioning today. Not ideal when your trying to explain Double Replacement Chemical reactions. So add either sleep teaching or sleep chemistry. It’s odd what ever I did today resembled a Salvador Dali creation.
Maybe I’ve sussed out the secret of Salvador success. Maybe he wasn’t an artistic pioneer. Maybe he couldn’t sleep, he did sleep painting.
Do you remember when school holidays meant time off for our kids….
Hawklad and I received emails from school this morning. The emails set out the times of the upcoming year exams. Straight after the half term week holiday. The emails listed all the areas which each pupil are expected to cover in revision. The revision also includes mandatory online tasks that won’t be marked but will be monitored by teachers. All tasks are expected to be completed. The email stressed that they are expecting pupils to undertake significant work levels over the week off…..
To be fair to school they are only following Government guidelines and instructions. The Government has repeatedly spoken of its desire to increase the length of the school day and reduce the number of school holidays. It believes children have too much time off. They have it too easy…..
Parents will have differing views on this. I think you might be able to guess my take on this. I think it’s all BS…… Making pupils work harder and longer is just a smokescreen for covering up the failings of our current school system. Too many trumped up experts getting jobs as politicians, thinking they know best. It shouldn’t be about the quantity of teaching, it should be about the QUALITY of the education.
Ban politicians from education. Let teachers teach… Let Headmaster run the school. Involve the pupils and parents fully. Reverse the trend to test at every level just to populate government performance league tables. We are even testing 5 year olds for pity sake. If the politicians want to do something useful then they should concentrate on finding the resources to help specialists deal with the growing mental health crisis amongst our children.
And above all. Let children enjoy their childhood.
A beautiful little leaning tree we pass on the dog walk… A favourite watering hole of a mad four legged one. No wonder it leans. It leans but it still has a purpose.
I was looking at an email sent from school setting out the upcoming year end exams. Day after day of exams. Often two a day. But what is the purpose. Whose purpose do they represent. Are they really Hawklad’s purpose. Apart from History, Geography, English and Maths, would he freely choose the other subjects. Would he put himself through these exams. Even with his favourite subjects, would he not focus on other areas rather than the predetermined ones set for him by the Government.
A Government Minister was waffling on about how our children should be focusing on this subject and that subject. They were doing too much of this and not enough of that…. Has he bothered to ask what the children want. He’s thinking about the purpose specified by the economy, not the purpose which necessarily the children would pick for themselves.
Ok I get the point of learning the basics but why should some out of touch numpty in London determine which subjects my child is taught. Determine which areas are looked at. Which textbooks are read. Set the teaching method. Determines how much religious education is taught. What art is studied. Basically setting everything…..
Somethings you can ignore and other things you simply can’t. You can can’t ignore how you are feeling but it’s very easy to ignore how someone else is feeling. You can ignore the ‘do not enter sign’ but you can’t ignore the large, foaming at the mouth guard dogs stood behind the sign. You can ignore a bit of rain but you can’t ignore a thunder storm. Well it’s not easy to anyway….
Last night was a massive, noisy storm which went on much of the night. No chance for sleep until the storm blew itself out, sadly well after dawn.
Hawklad received two emails from the same teacher this week. Both saying effectively the same thing. The teacher couldn’t open the work files Hawklad had submitted this week. In addition the teacher moaned about where he had saved the files.
Well here’s the issues which kinda made me reply in a slightly tetchy manner to this teacher. First of all these are the first communications Hawklad has had with this teacher in over a year. Secondly he is saving the files in the same way he does for all the other subjects. Thirdly Hawklad has been diligently saving all the work and homework for this teacher for over a year in exactly the same way, in exactly the same format and in exactly the same location – all in line with school instructions. Fourthly Hawklad has never had any feedback, marks or comments about any piece of work submitted to this teacher since a certain pandemic appeared. The only thing approaching feedback was a couple of random assessment numbers appearing on the quarterly school report. Numbers which unlike other subjects have never changed.
Call me cynical but I don’t think the teacher has looked at any of Hawklads work until this week. Ok class work may not always be marked but surely homework should be marked. Marked and feedback provided.
Can you believe it. 14 months of school at home. Just over half of that time has happened with most of his classmates back at school. Trying to maintain a remote link with his class was always going to be difficult. It can never be perfect. Especially when the Government’s attitude has been to try and force all children back into classrooms as soon as possible. Schools instructed to make it more difficult for children to work remotely. Schools and parents threatened with legal action if pupils are not back in the class. Our school wanted to offer a remote learning option. Wanted to change the school week with most pupils spending part of the school week, remote learning. Wanted to tailor education and create a better school working environment. Unfortunately that was not allowed so the remote learning option had to be largely turned off. That makes things much harder…..
Revision is supposed to start for the upcoming school year exams this week. No idea how they will work for Hawklad. But the individual subjects are now issuing revision guides. Indicating which pieces of school work have to be revisited and revised. In a couple of subjects there are no surprises – we have covered those areas, undertaken the work required. But then there are other subjects. Areas that the class have undertaken that Hawklad was not aware of. In a couple of subjects clearly large tracts of class work, entire areas have not been shared. Is it ok to call it revision when he’s visiting an area for the very first time.
It’s such a mixed bag. Yes a couple of subjects have exceeded expectations, Hawklad has done the entire teaching requirements. A couple have been kind of as expected, covered most areas but with gaps. And some subjects have gone so much worse than expected, with Hawklad being so far behind his classmates.
Surely in the modern world, with everything that technology has to offer in terms of keeping connected, surely my country should be so much better at remote learning. So much better at EDUCATION.
Hawklad was trying to do some French school work. I’m not that much use, especially when I’m tired. So when it came to translations I secretly backed up my limited expertise with some discreet finger work. Can I use Google Translator to make me look awesome. All going well. With the iPhone hidden on my lap, I amazed Hawklad with my almost perfect knowledge and interpretation of French phrases.
Then it all went a bit mental.
All over a simple looking translation. I had covertly typed into Google what appeared to be an innocent phrase….
Je veux un bain
Clearly it was ‘I want a …..”. I think it was BATH. Problem was that I misspelt the last word. Easily done on a small screen and when you are trying to hide exactly what you are typing.
Je veux un baise
So I was a little taken back by the translation.
I want a f##k
Sorry….. You what…..Double take…..Until I spotted the typing mistake my parenting world had become very confusing and just a little unsettling. I definitely aged several years. See parenting is bad for you.
Have we transitioned to home schooling without thinking.
Another week of family lockdown. Another week of school at home. But things are changing. Increasing amounts of the school day being unsupported. Yes a couple of lessons still try to provide good teaching support but…… The other subjects provide support which is at best patchy and often not there at all.
So what are the scores on the school doors this week….
Lessons this week 20
4 lessons well supported
7 lessons providing a little support, enough to allow us to try and fill in the missing sections
9 lessons absolutely NO support, no idea what was done in the class, don’t even know which area the teacher looked at.
So the amount of classroom radio silence is creeping up every week. Some subjects have gone weeks without any feedback or guidance. Without support we are having to do our own thing. No idea if Hawklad is working on the same areas as his classmates in a range of subjects. So increasingly what he is learning is determined by him and his hapless dad, not be his teachers. That’s starting to feel like homeschooling. With no classroom return imminent, maybe we have transitioned to homeschooling by accident.
That’s some dinner plate. Newly planted vegetable seeds. What to start with…..
It’s been one of those school at home days. Only one communication from a teacher about lessons today. That was ‘just revise’ for a test which is coming up. The other lessons it was just about trying to see what bits we could find on the online system and then trying to fill in the blanks. Which is quite apt as alongside the homeschooling I was also trying to get work done for the company that bizarrely likes to employ me. Apparently I’m a ‘valuable asset’. I’m sure that has been autocorrected at some stage from the original description.
Apt because today I was scratching my head at WORK and blankly trying to figure out what I’m supposed to be doing. Yes definitely filling in the blanks. I can’t have been doing very well at either tasks as I ended up watching our garden pigeon and his dinner plate.
At least somebody knows what they are doing today….
I was reading a news article about home schooling during the lockdown. A government politician was quoted as saying basically that all children needed to be in the classroom. No exceptions. Pupils discipline and grades had deteriorated during lockdown. Homeschooling could never work properly.
Ok so the last year must have a write off for Hawklad
Well let’s think about that…… Over the last year his grades have gone UP. So well that he was moved up sets. Look at his best subject. A year ago he could talk for days about British medieval history. He could name and describe every English monarch. He could talk well about Roman history. A year later he can still do that but now listen to him confidently talk American, European and Chinese history. Listen to him talk about recent world history, Classical Greek times…. you get the picture.
He’s expanded his knowledge on the animal kingdom.
He’s getting great marks now in English Literature. Macbeth, Animal Farm are well within his grasp.
A year ago we were fighting to get him support for his dyslexia. He needed assistance to read even the simplest text. A year at home and he hardly ever needs to ask for help with reading. He can do it himself. Yes he has to skip some words but now he can read articles on line. He can read books now. Slowly yes, but read definitely. 7 years of classroom teaching and he’s made the leap forward at HOME.
I’m no superman. No Yoda. No expert in teaching. Watch me look blankly in most subjects. I’m a bang average parent. Homeschooling has just suited Hawklad. He’s more relaxed. Can pace around. Can jump around subjects. Take breaks. Look at things he wants to. No pressure asking questions, no anxiety putting his have up in front of an overcrowded classroom. It just works for him.
Here’s the thing, the traditional classroom will suit some children. But not everyone. So why do THEY force all kids through the same hoops. Through the same moulds. Through the same exam routes. If the last 12 months has taught us anything it’s that we need to cater for all children. One path just isn’t enough.