A different kind of travelogue. As an avid young traveller I often wondered what would it would be like when I got older, gathered commitments, created children and accrued debt. This is what it's like.
Some things are hard.
Teaching is hard. I think being a good teacher is one of the most difficult and one of the most valuable jobs there is. I couldn’t do it. Ive have Medical Education Jobs, I’ve tried to teach adults. I’ve also taught adults English in Prague 23 years ago. (That’s a sobering thought, though it wasn’t a very sober time.) I’ve taught some excellent junior doctors. That was okay. I’ve taught some very experienced doctors. That was totally dependent on the individuals. I’ve had a little success. But teaching kids is a different thing.
Trying to be a teacher to my own kids? Different again.
I have managed to convince my beloved that we can achieve a sort of “Road-Schooling” on this trip. We have taken the kids out of school for two out of 4 terms in the Australian School System.
She finds teaching hard and is perhaps more realistic about it. She is good at reading with the kids.I’ve said I would do it. I probably said this because I wanted to travel more than I wanted to teach.
Aoife (10) is fine. She is a motivated and energetic learner. She is writing here on the blog and creating a series of short stories as we travel.
Cormac (8) hates school. Always has. I mean always. It has been a challenge even getting him to leave the house to go to “school” since day care, never mind Pre-School, never mind kindergarten, never mind actual school.
He is showing the same kinds of resistance to “Road-Schooling”.
While Aoife has essentially headed off under her own steam already. After one week of getting used to being away Cormac was still very resistant to any efforts to formalise learning. The informal stuff is not such a problem.
I have read a lot of home schooling blogs. I have talked to teachers. I have researched a bunch of stuff. I had rather come to the conclusion that by keeping things fun the entire experience would be educational in itself. I hoped that just a small amount of structure, an hour or so a day, supplemented by the constant attention of his hyperactive father and the hyper-stimulating environment would work.
The truth of it seems to be that he is a conspicuously developed personality and that personality has a few key features that are going to be a challenge.
Cormac, Aoife and I are not good at being not good at things. Its an ego thing. Thats a bit of a handicap when you are a kid (or indeed a doctor) as theres always so much to learn.
Example; Cormac refused to engage with a balance bicycle. You know the ones with no deals that you run along with and free wheel. He also refused to get on his bike when it had training wheels. He then insisted that the training wheels came off. He still didn’t try to ride it until he was good and ready and he just got on it and rode off. Not down some nice smooth path, he got on it and rode around on fine gravel on a bumpy hilly circular track out the front of the house. Around and around without falling.
School is the same. All his life; not interested in reading. A real struggle until he simply decided he would and then he simply did. He went from the most reluctant reader in his class to one of the best in a couple of terms.
Unfortunately the “road-schooling” seems to have taken the same path. He is very reluctant to engage. I can get him to do it but not without upsetting him. Instinct and a little knowledge tells me this is not the way to do it. Yet some part of me keeps wanting to just push him over the hump until he realises he can do it. That the hour of anger and frustration he went through with me today could have been 20 swift minutes of him doing something that I know he can actually do. I’ve seen him do todays work before.
Today was the first day we tried a more formal sit down at a table type session. All we had to do was pick 10 words that were topical; write them out three times and discuss them. Then we were doing to do a “4 times table” write that out 3 times and then see if we could wee some of the patterns. Then I wanted to do a tiny exercise on coconuts; just chat about them and write down 3 or 4 interesting facts about coconuts; we had one on the table. We were planning on taking it apart and drinking it and opening it and eating it.
Resistance. Attempts to motivate. Feelings of persecution. Tears all round. Failure. We never got to the coconut.
Its just the first day. Its like starting a new school. But it bothered me a lot.
A part of me says; “Just play games.” We have a bunch of games picked for some educational value. We have a non-competitive version of Scrabbler; no points, just get a word down, no board. A quick game is a good game.It ends up with lots of short words.
We play other games that require adding scores; a little mental arithmetic. The Scrabble is a winner.
What do I do?
Do I stick with the easier stuff? Do I work through the harder times?
Can anyone tell me? Can anyone help?
My sister Emma is a teacher. My friends Rob and Patricia are teachers. Perhaps I’m going to have to ask them.
Perhaps its me that is being no-good at being no-good at things.