Thursday, 1 October 2009

Learning Without Teaching

This post has been inspired by Jax

The Other Side of the Story

A Silent Assassin

My name is John.  I'm not your typical story hero.  I'm not a hero.  I kill the heroes.  Why do good guys always win the stories?  Cause it's not like that in real life.  But you better be glad about that if you're anyone like me. I'm not against people.  I don't care about people, its just I'd do anything to get paid.  I'd say anything.  I'd probably even kill my own family. Well depends, though it would have to be a lot of money.  Anyway, there's this one case that got me .... seriously ... in trouble.  And this, this is the story, I was creeping down the alleyway, I'd just finished my last task, don't really wanna talk about it; it wasn't a nice one.  I had to up the price a lot on the person, it was hard, I wouldn't do it otherwise.  But there was this van, I swear it was following me.  I crept round the alleyway, I hated people following me, plus they could want business or they could want to kill me, or they could be doing business I suppose, if you put it that way.  I quickly went into the alleyway, [bit i can't hear here]... but then two people got out, big build, nothing like me.  I'm the silent assassin with the gun, they're the silent assassins with hands.  Them guns, couldn't do nothing without em but hands they could strangle me, that's what I was worried about.  They were getting closer and the alleyway was a dead end.

This is the beginning of a story my 11 year old is making up.  I do not say writing, she is recording it with her digital voice recorder and I have just typed it up.  This is straight off the recorder, we would usually go through it and discuss punctuation, sentence structure and sense.  She cannot read fluently without a lot of effort and cannot write anything of any complexity.   I have not asked her to do this and I do not ask her to edit any of her work.  She insists.  I say insists because shamefully I am a little reluctant, she is my third severely dyslexic child and I have scribed myself out.  I do it though, that is my job and despite my reluctance I am impressed.  Her grasp of how to vary sentences in order to retain the readers interest comes entirely from her own observation of the books that have been read to her and the tapes she has listened to.

At her age I could not have done this, say we were given an essay to write for weekend homework, something like 'A day in the life of a penny' or some such thing, Sunday evening would find me behind the sofa in floods of terrified tears.  Make the assignment open ended and it got worse.   For me the pressure totally destroyed any creativity I might have had.  Lessons on grammar and sentence structure, participles adjectives etc, totally confused me, some of the instruction was at too simple a level and undermined my understanding, some was confusing, to the unready dyslexic brain adverb and adjective are too similar to be distinguished from  memory.

This may never be finished but it is a better proof of her understanding of the power and use of the written language than any number of work sheets or exercises.  And the desire to do this is fragile, make it in any way compulsory and I think the desire to do  it would disappear.   Before she did this she had done no creative writing for at least six months, I do not think this has held her back.

Introduce into this situation a 12 month plan and an order to exhibit the learning therefrom and the fragile joy of self directed exploration of the world around her, of which literature, in books, cds, tv and other media composes a not insignificant part would be severely damaged.

I know for certain that Beth would not be doing this if she were still in school.  By shining a bright harsh light on what she could not do the local authority school would have further undermined her confidence and disabled her strengths.

This same local authority wants to inspect my provision!  And if Graham Badman and Ed Balls have their way they will be able to force themselves into my home and make Beth answer their questions on her own.  They may get more than they bargained for, but what if they take offence and take it out on us.  Can we trust a system that supports a head teacher and board of governors concealing the tying up and whipping of a six year old girl by the governors children and sacks the conscientious adult who tells the parent and this is upheld by tribunal?  If it had been your child what would you have wanted?

And as far as we can tell we will have no right of appeal.


  1. Nice post, glad to have inspired it :)

  2. Wow that was beth? thats amazing.
    to beth
    10 stars! hope you continue.
    When i was reading it i though that it was something mum had taken off the internet
    In fact i was thinking this is to good to be mum isent it?
    (sorry mum)

  3. Thanks Jax. Hi Will didn't see you here, this blog doesn't alert me to comments, definately too good for me lol.