Thursday, September 28, 2006


Set-up 1: The Oyster has been a little gorilla for much of the afternoon. Mama and K (his grandmother) are big gorillas. Great satisfaction is had from making statements such as "big gorilla putting little gorilla's wellies on", "big gorilla using a rake and little gorilla using a spade" (yes, we're still up to our ears in the garden project).

Set-up 2: The Oyster is beginning to use possessive adjectives, but he hasn't figured out deixis yet, so he tends to use "my" to refer to things that belong to the person he's talking to ("put it on my plate - no, MY plate" [points at Mama's plate]).

Oyster: Unny put the stone in my bucket.
Mama: Yes, that's right, you put it in your bucket.
Oyster: No, my bucket!
Mama: Yes, but the thing is, if you say "my bucket", I say "your bucket" - because thaaaaat's deixis, boy!
Oyster: Daa-day-igah-g'illa!
Mama: My apologies. You're right, of course. That's deixis, gorilla.

You've got to get these things right, you know.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Cooking With Knives

My daughter, today, is two years, 4 months, 27 days old. She is learning with knives.

She's in the kitchen with Rob right now. I think she expressed an interest in peeling potatoes but he might have offered. The potato peeler is a bit blunt, but she sat on a high stool in front of the sink and had a go. The potatoes were very slippery, mind. She said so.

Then they chopped and rinsed broccoli.

Now they're peeling the leaves and silk off the sweetcorn.

She's have a fabulous time, she's out of my hair, it's not slowing him down much...

Last night, she and I made Bara Brith in 15 minutes (er, plus 90 minutes baking time, but you can't have everything). It hasn't been cut yet but it looks fabulous.

She sees no difference between this and the games she plays with her plastic animals, except that for this she has company and for the animals she does all the voices herself. If anything, she likes this far, far more.

Monday, September 25, 2006

Sort of an introduction

Hi, I'm Radegund, another contributor to this blog. Ailbhe invited me to join ages ago, and I've been meaning to start posting ever since. Champion procrastinator, me. I have a two-year-old son, whom I'd very much like to continue educating at home once he reaches schoolgoing age. (Actually, now that I think of it, "at home" is a pretty reductive phrase to describe where his education will happen. "Not at school" is more accurate.)

I first became interested in non-traditional education in 2000, when a passing mention on an e-mail discussion list pointed me to the website of the Sudbury Valley School, Massachussetts, US. (Wow. That site is quite a bit slicker now than it was then.) From the moment I began to read, I was electrified by the idea of child-led learning.

Later, I read about unschooling (e.g. the Wikipedia entry and and found myself to be in visceral accord with it as an educational philosophy. The principles of respecting a child's time, of facilitating learning rather than coercing memorisation, of providing a stimulating, physically safe environment and then getting out of the way unless asked to help - these make so much sense to me that I can (still) barely articulate my opinions on the subject without becoming emotional.

I read John Holt's How Children Fail and How Children Learn (see this post for a list of his books) when my son was a baby, and came to the slightly heartstopping realisation that I was serious about this: I wanted to act on my beliefs and not send him to school. My husband and I have reached a loose agreement that we'll work something out, but the details are still hazy. Soon, I think, I'll try to get in touch with other home educators in our area and see if there's some kind of ready-made community I can join.

I don't ... necessarily ... think that traditional schooling is equally bad for all children. I think there may be some for whom (for whatever temperamental or circumstantial reasons) it provides more benefits than it imposes constraints. But the more I read and experience, the more I'm convinced that an alternative model is essential. I'd love child-led learning to be an option genuinely available to more people. Actual "home education", which fairly inevitably entails parents forgoing household income (as well as professional fulfilment, etc.), is a realistic (not to mention appealing) choice for, I would imagine, comparatively few. One day, when the time is right, I want to start a school on the Sudbury Valley model in Ireland. Until then, I'll work with what I have and try to ensure that my own children (the born and the hoped-for!) have access to whatever educational model is most suited to them.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Read Me

Today we were in town with friends, sitting in a cafe, reading books and drinking overpriced trendy beverages. Linnea's OTB was an "innocent" brand pure-fruit smoothie, and she read the label aloud to me for my entertainment.

"There was a Nea who went on a train a-day and with her Mammy and -"

And my friend interrupted her to say "I don't think it says that, Nea, does it?"

To which I can only respond (hours later, of course, because that's how it works): "I can't imagine how anyone would think she did think that. And if she did, I can't fathom why anyone would feel a need to correct her. She's two-and-a-third-years-old."

But this particular friend does correct. I remember when Nea was 14 months old she pointed out a triangle ("chi-angle") to me. I was delighted. My friend corrected her. "No, it's a cone."


Friday, September 15, 2006

ERAPA Reopens

We puttered off to ERAPA again today. Met people, re-met people, Linnea vanished off on her own for long periods, and played with other kids, mainly with one child her own age (as in, really truly her own age, only 20 days older) whom she addresses as "Poor little Pandy."

I met people who had genuinely enjoyed school for years on end. Not often that happens.

It was a learning experience for me, too. Travelling with an adult who has very little experience of travelling on public transport with one child, let alone with two, is hard work. Managing an infant in a sling is less difficult than managing a pregnant bump in a heatwave, as far as keeping track of the toddler is concerned. I have no idea at all how to talk to people and always feel like I'm taking over and turning a conversation into a monologue (particularly when people bring up birth and/or birth trauma!) or incredibly stilted and boring - or worse, bored. Clearly I need to go to Finishing School.

I also learned that there's a cool kind of paper airplane thing the kids make from a straw and two rings of paper, and I intend to make them with Linnea very shortly.

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