Tuesday, 12 January 2010

Consent and the Ticky Boxy World

It’s been a long time since we posted anything on this blog and, I suspect, that will be the case from here on in. Having older children, who spend a fair amount of their time online, makes it just too weird to be blogging our day to day lives. But, with today’s second reading of the bill in parliament, I had a vague spark of the anger that has got me blogging before.

The truth is that I’m worn out with the whole business of the government’s intention to start licensing our lives. Most of the time I just heave a sigh and shrug. They can’t bear to have us all out here just living our lives. Not with *children* who we (without any proper qualifications to do so, you understand) claim to be *educating*. What if we aren’t doing it properly? Surely we must be counted and checked and monitored – on and on and on and on, I suspect. Because that way they can make sure we are doing it properly...

Well, we’re not, of course, doing it properly. I know about properly. Properly would involve us (the adults) making plans all about what they (the children) will learn and then teaching it to them and testing them to make sure they were listening. Any spare time not devoted to paragraphs or fractions should probably be spent telling them not to get pregnant/get anyone else pregnant, abuse substances, carry knives or run up debts on credit cards.( That people insist on doing these stupid and feckless things is obviously down to the fact that no-one ever gave them in a lesson about the consequences.) Of course, even if we did it all as properly as properly then it would still be a substandard education because the children aren’t properly socialised. No, they suffer from the lack of the normal social environment of an over-heated room packed with twenty nine other souls who were born in the same academic year. So we are, I think, doomed when it comes to a passable level on the Scale of Normality.

There’s no way the Ticky Boxy World will let any of us pass without something that needs to be addressed and improved upon. No doubt, we will all be encouraged to live every moment in a *reflective* way, questioning how we could do it all better next time. So that when the Ticky Boxy Lady comes round again we can move up a level on her Ticky Boxy Sheet and enjoy a sense of *achievement.* Or, alternatively, they might just decide that we’re all failing and need to be put in special measures, which will probably mean School Attendance Orders aplenty.

They will arrive in our lives, I suspect, from Ticky Boxy World, and gasp in horror at the chaos of it all. The child who has reams of writing scattered around the house, all illustrated with mythical creatures and not a sheet of it marked! And, where is the child? In the garden playing with fire... The other one is out at a fundraiser down at the local anarchist club – talking to adults we have not met, vetted or barred. And, no, you won’t be reading her essay because, actually, it’s not really very useful to her if you do...

You see, the thing is, that out there in Ticky Boxy World, the people never do like it, you know. The Ticky Boxy Ladies and Men that come and inspect, they’re never welcome. No-one quite knows what to do about it, of course. Everyone is very used to a structure where no-one is asked if they consent. Not the children sitting on the mat doing their Jolly Phonics, not the bored teenagers doing as little as possible, not the teachers sitting in long meetings about strategies and approaches, not the head teachers burning the midnight oil before the Ticky Boxy People arrive. Being asked if this is what you want, if this is useful for you, if you can even agree to this as part of a deal – that doesn’t really happen much out there. You are in the Ticky Boxy Structure and you do as you are told.

And yet we have pottered merrily on – picking and choosing and not worrying too much. That is what they don’t like. I’m pretty sure of it. However they dress it up with concerns over this or that. It doesn’t wash with me. The truth is that they can’t let us be. It just doesn’t fit. Having sold their souls to the Devil of Inspection they cannot let anyone escape. But I think they might find that people used to living by common consent will not be as easily awed by the Ticky Boxy Lady. I hope not.