So, I'm not going to sit here and pretend that I hate that they go to school. I don't hate it, in some ways I love it. They seem to love it, which is great.
There are things about school that I do hate, that often make me wish my boys didn't want to go to school.
Today is a perfect example. They come home and Erik hands me the notice we knew was coming... He'd told us a couple of days ago that one of the boys in class had asked the teacher if they could do Masterchef in class AGAIN. They did this in the last term of last year and again in the first term of this year. Each student was allocated either an "always" food or a "sometimes" food option and told to bring something to school that they'd made at home with their parents. This was across all the 3/4 classes and woven into the curriculum through various means (talking about health, doing maths, writing etc.)...
Both boys got "sometimes" food both rounds. So, we made cakes and muffins etc. x4. Baking isn't particularly expensive, even for 50 odd people... There was a bit of "competition" that filtered through to us though, in terms of comments about who liked what foods, and who had brought what fantastic creation to school. There was a bit of pressure to perform, although I'm sure if we'd complained about that, the teachers would have argued that this was not at all the point of the exercise. I don't mind cooking, and was grateful we didn't get "always" foods either time, because savoury dishes are always more expensive to make (especially as they have to be vegetarian for the 2 vegos in the class) and harder (I've mentioned before my absolutely LOATHING of cooking, haven't I?)...
Anyway, as we had already dispensed with Masterchef 2010 back in March, I was under the false impression I could breathe freely knowing it probably wouldn't rear it's ugly head for another year.
So, today's notice read that we would only be asked to make "always" meals this time, and there would need to be enough to share between 25 (which seemed to imply people hadn't provided enough in the past), and the meal needed to be vegetarian, of course, so everyone could partake of it... There was an added point about providing a $1 for the purchase of plates and cutlery.
We're not giving consent for Erik's participation in this.
- Cooking for 25 people is expensive.
- Cooking a vego meal, when I hate cooking anyway, is more challenge than I'm willing to take on.
- Having to constantly watch the calendar for when it's our "turn" so we don't have to pull something out of thin air the night before is stressful.
- Cooking something that other people will like and eat (when I'm no cook) is stressful.
Of course, saying no to this project is also stressful...
And this is what gets me about schooling versus homeschooling. We cook with our kids anyway. It's not like because we aren't consenting to participating in this activity that Erik will miss out on cooking with us. He won't. He's been cooking with us for years.
Schooling in Australia is supposed to be free. It simply isn't. It's not even equitable. If we don't consent to him doing this activity, he'll miss out. Each day while the other students eat what their peers bring in, he won't be able to participate because we didn't consent to cook for 25 people. Just like he couldn't participate in the farm excursion last term (because we didn't have $50 for our two children to go, and wouldn't even have it to pay off over a few weeks), which led to other class activities he couldn't participate in. They won't go to the school camp either, unless we get some sort of regular income in this house before the end of August.
Our kids are missing out on so much, it really makes me wonder why people think homeschoolers miss out. In formal schooling in Australia, it's definitely a USER PAYS system. So much of the so-called curriculum requires parents to shell out extra money (even though the legislation says that we don't pay for curriculum).
The great thing about homeschooling is every day life is all about learning! Every activity is a learning opportunity and you don't have to pay extra to do it again "at school". You're family's participation isn't compared and rated against other families. You cook, because you need to eat, not because you need to impress someone else's child with your cooking prowess...