This is the Hospitium a 14th century listed building in York’s Museum Gardens. These days it’s a venue for conferences, weddings and special events. Many years ago it was a support building for the Abbey.
St Mary’s Abbey was founded in 1088. The surviving ruins date back from about 1270. York is such a good place for kids to actually touch history.
Over Christmas our son spent a few hours here trying to imagine what life was like before it fell into ruin. Recreating the sounds, the people, the buildings, the life. Big scale creative play. I must admit I was lost in the world of dreams to. Mine was a world of ghosts, ghouls and vampires. I had almost forgotten how much fun you can have when you release your imagination.
This was the visit when the first seeds of home schooling started to be scattered. Last term had been grisly. No real sign of development. No evidence of school making any effort to provide an effective and supportive teaching environment. Most importantly a really unhappy and anxious child.
Our son loves subjects like history but not the way school deliver it. He likes the History Teacher, she is really nice. But being in the bottom set and given his encyclopaedic knowledge – he’s not learning anything. Plus regardless of which class you are in the teaching is so traditional. Text book after text book. Very dry and not very dyslexic friendly. Unfortunately it’s the set teaching approach dictated by the government.
Between my thoughts of ghosts and ghouls I also pondered with so much real life history so close to hand, why not bring the classroom here. Bring the lessons alive. That’s when the thought pinged, if school won’t teach here, why don’t I.
We will see.
The trip was completed with the required extra portions of ice cream. That night my imagination had clearly not been put back in its box yet. A dream about Dracula. But not the bloodthirsty vampire. This one was about a reformed Prince of Darkness. He had sold his Transylvanian castle and bought York’s Museum Gardens. He wanted to turn the gardens into the finest history school in the world. All the teachers were ghosts and ghouls. And Dracula was selling the ice creams and he didn’t skimp on the portions. Now that’s a school.
“Dad if we won the lottery could we buy a deserted island and live there?
It’s kinda sad that an 11 year old thinks that way. But I fully understand why and YES I would jump at the chance. I remember a time when I loved my country. Those days have sadly gone. Like many folk from Yorkshire we would happily declare independence. York becoming a capital city sounds cool. The national dish could be the Yorkshire Pudding. Our national sports would be cricket and being grumpy. The national animal would be the Ferret. Instead of having a nuclear deterrent we could threaten people with our rhubarb sticks.
You might think this is daft but trust me this is off the scale sensibility compared to the stupidity of modern Britain. Nothing sums up the state of the union better than just one single news story. Given all the potentially catastrophic events circulating around us (and there are many) – the attention of the media and a good proportion of the population has been on …… the horror of a bakery introducing a vegan sausage roll across its 900 stores. The likes of Piers Morgan (one of the not funny loonies and self pronounced TV Star) went into meltdown saying things like “Nobody was waiting for a vegan bloody sausage you PC ravaged clowns”. The news story is everywhere, you just can’t get away from it. I use the term news story very loosely.
I waited with anticipation for our son to return. He would cheer me up, bring much needed sensibility to my world. Unfortunately not this time.
“Dad the school want me to either write left handed or type left handed until my right hand gets better, that includes trying to do exams with my weak hand. I told them that I struggle to coordinate my left hand and that’s the reason I can’t tie knots. Told them that the Doctor was trying to help me with it but the teacher said I just had to do it”
“Dad did you complain about the behaviour in our bottom class”
“Well they did something”
Please let it be something positive
“They moved a really well behaved girl up a set because she was struggling with the behaviour in our class and they moved a really naughty boy in to replace her. It was a lot worse today”
Only thing left is to go and buy a lottery ticket. That remote island is calling. Anybody fancy joining us.
It only takes us 30 minutes to drive into our closest city, the beautiful York. We are so fortunate to live so close to such an historic city. Such a rich pedigree.
- It was founded by the Romans in 71AD,
- The Emperor Septimus Severus ruled the entire Roman Empire from York for 2 years,
- Constantine The Great was proclaimed Roman Emperor in York,
- York was captured by the Vikings and named Jorvik,
- Guy Fawkes (remember remember the fifth of November) was born in York,
- York Minster is one of the worlds largest Cathedrals and took 250 years to build. It is the largest Gothic Cathedral in Northern Europe,
- The Shambles is the best preserved ancient retail street in Europe dating back before 1086,
- Dick Turpin the famous Highwayman was executed in York,
- It has 3 miles of ancient City Walls still intact,
- It is regarded as one of the worlds most haunted cities with over 500 recorded ghosts,
- It has the worlds largest Railway Museum,
- While other Northern British Cities built their wealth on coal, steel and textiles – York made it on Chocolate and Sweets. Rowntree’s and Terrys.
That was supposed to be the end of the post. Trust me York is worth a visit. Basically it’s a really cool City. Especially for a young kid with aspergers whose thirst for facts just keeps growing. He just laps up the facts. When I started writing this post I asked our son to supply me with the information. I completely trust his memory and haven’t bothered to double check the facts.
So it’s so upsetting when he came out with the following Statement a couple of hours later:
“I don’t want to be stupid, I would love to be clever one day”
So off we went for another late night dog walk. I try to provide reassurance. Try to build up his confidence and restore his faith in his dreams. But it often feels like a short term fix. Applying a temporary bandage to the wound. A bandage only protects the wound it doesn’t treat it. As Extreme would sing – I need to find more than words. I need to raise my game…..
It’s the morning after last nights anxiety vortex and the calming late night dog walk. Our son slept reasonably well, the dog extremely well. Me – not so good. Head is still spinning about trying to solve the educational conundrum. How to give our son the best opportunity to find his wings and so importantly take his anxiety away.
My thoughts keep coming back to home schooling but ….. So many factors
- Does this just increase the isolation
- How to unlock the potential
- Keeping open University options
- Type of education
- Support services
- The bureaucracy
- What happens if something happens to me
- On and on and on
This morning another option popped into my small brain. I remember a few years back watching a programme about a family living in a remote part of Iceland. May have been on a little Island as I think they were hoping to one day have a Bridge or tunnel built to connect them to the mainland. Post and supplies coming in each day by small boat. Many of the community coming out to welcome the boat as it pulls in each day.
The family had kids about the same age as our son. No schools for miles. They attended a virtual school. Rather than the school bus (or in this case school boat) they logged into a computer. Lessons then took place online with a teacher and a virtual classroom. Webcams allowed the teacher to see all the kids and importantly allowed the kids to see and interact with the other kids. It looked fantastic. Unfortunately our Icelandic is a little patchy!!!! But maybe this exists wider and might be another option to look at. Head starting to spin again so it’s time for another long dog walk. Thank you for reading these confused words. Take care. Góðan daginn
Maybe I might buy a Learn Icelandic book just in case.
Rain rain and more rain. It’s that wet I’m waiting for Aquaman to pay us a visit. Having said that it’s that wet here that he would probably catch a cold. I wouldn’t want that to happen.
I wonder if our son is a future lawyer in the making.
“Dad did school check to see how I was?”
“Don’t you think they should have asked?”
Well I did phone the school absence helpline to tell them you were off.
“What did you tell them?”
Its an answer phone. You only get a few seconds, just said your name and you would be off till at least the end of term
“But they didn’t phone you back?”
“But I tripped over a hole in the path at school. Lots of holes have been there since I started at that school. Doesn’t that make it the schools fault. If something is your fault then shouldn’t you check to see how things are. See what they can do. Ask how it happened. Fix things so they don’t happen again. Check on those hurt when you are supposed to be looking after them”
When I was his age all I could have managed would have been
“Ow my finger hurts” and
” Is it time for ScoobyDoo yet”
This type of thing fills me with so much hope. We have so many special and unique kids. So much untapped potential. If we allow them to they can change the world for the better. But it also troubles me as a parent. Is my son growing up too quickly. Is he learning about the real world too soon. Short circuiting his childhood. Becoming an adult too soon. I don’t know what the answer is. I should ask our son – he understands the world better than I ever did. Even though he is often so at odds with it.
Basically after all these years, all the miles I have done, I still feel so much more comfortable in the ScoobyDoo world than ours.