Monday, 24 June 2013

Within the blur

Life is fading out of focus - this academic year is nearly done for us and I am beginning to draw together our various activities. My eldest has completed two IGCSEs this year and is aiming to finish a Literature assignment for his "1000 Years of Poetry" course so that he can put it away over the summer. My younger two each did a maths assessment this morning. Having been very excited by the idea of a maths exam, my little girl puffed her way through an hour of angles and I was surprised at the lack of her usual neatness that her work showed. It was only on marking it with her that I reflected on the fact that it was from a Year 7 textbook and she had got pretty much all of it right. (She's 10.) My student contact for the year is nearly over, the marathon is done and there is a sense of completion.

At the same time, my thoughts are turning to the future. My partner and I are in the process of transforming our tutoring into a business and launching my English teaching here in the Dales and I am beginning to put together my part-time teaching timetable for September. I am about to start exam marking and have just this morning seen a working-from-home opportunity in a local sixth form college which I will be applying for. I am considering options for the childrens' studies for next year, including Open Learn self-study courses available from the Open University and finding centres where the children would be able to take a Modern Foreign Language IGCSE and my two boys are busy planning our schedule for this coming Thursday when we will be at the Oxford University Open Day visiting the English and Engineering departments.

The image I have is of a slide-show, where one picture blurs into the next. For a while nothing is clear, it is just a mess of colour. The old picture is going and the new is not year clear. I feel as if I am living within the blur.

Wednesday, 12 June 2013

I did it!

I did it. All 23.1 miles of it. The Swaledale marathon. It was pretty hilly, it was very hot, and it was a blast. The best jam sandwich I've ever eaten at 13 miles, ankle-deep mud at 20 and a hot meal at the end. Today has been the first day I've been able to take the dog on a decent walk and come down the stairs without wanting to cry. It's been a long and hard road and I thought that running in snow and bogs was never going to end, but I did it.


I'm tired. I''m tired of worrying if they're ok and if I'm doing enough, if I'm good enough. I'm tired of worrying that, right now, they are not learning anything.( I remember feeling that way while I changed the baby's nappy and my  eldest watched Teletubbies.) I'm tired of the relentless argument in my head that it really is ok, they really are learning and that they really are at least as educated as their schooled peers. I'm tired of the doubt. I'm tired hearing that the children feel an insidious pressure to go to school, to achieve 10 A*s and that owning a tea-room isn't ambition enough.
When they are excited about grasping vertically opposite angles, or proving the formula for interior angles or writing an essay comparing Shakespearean sonnet form to Spenserian, my confidence flashes for a moment and is gone, like a match flame.
When they are bored, or sneaky, or ungracious, or can't recite their times-tables, the slow-burn of my fear deepens.
I wouldn't have lived any other way. I just wish it wasn't so darn scary. And I wish I wasn't so tired.

Tuesday, 4 June 2013

Where am I looking?

It's that time of year again. The time of year when the sun is shining, the summer feels tangible, a picnic beckons and formal education feels like too hard a mountain to climb. We are all tired. My eldest is growing weary of revision: he has one more paper to go and he will have completed two IGCSEs. The younger two performed in the Swaledale Festival on Sunday: they played the parts of ghostly children in the poignant and funny, locally written "Deckchairs". I am beginning to panic that we haven't done "enough" this year, that there isn't enough on paper, that the fictional inspector would not be satisfied, that the voices of discontent would be, well, discontent.
I can see that what I often fail to do it to count our successes as weighty as our failures, that new and unexpected opportunities do not matter to me as much as the plans that got left behind. I like to tick boxes, see completed workbooks and have something to show on paper for a year's education.
What I do have to show is three happy, healthy and thriving children. They are increasingly independent and self-motivated. They have all become much fitter and eat more healthily since our move North. My eldest has taken his first qualifications. We have read books, studied maths and science, become part of the local parish church, my daughter has taken up dance, my middle son joined his first football team and my eldest become part of Youth Theatre in Richmond. For my own sake, I can keep repeating their achievements but I'm not sure that it really matters (or is very interesting to read), what matters is that we keep living this life that we have chosen, that the children keep on developing and growing and that I turn my eyes from what we haven't done to what we are, this moment, actually doing.