Wednesday, 10 March 2010

Facing prejudice

Today I accompanied Rhiannon to a college interview.  She wants to do a First Diploma in Art and design which is equivalent to 4 GCSE's - nothing earthshattering, but she wants to pursue a career in art and design and having been mostly self taught in her art, she wanted to start with a basic course to "fill in" gaps in her knowledge and experience before progressing to more advanced courses.

The interviewer clearly did not get home education.  She couldn't understand why she was only doing 2 GCSE's (the requirement for the course).  Why didn't she have any predicted grades for her GCSE's?  Why didn't her Biology exam include a practical?  Why wasn't she doing art GCSE?  Why was she home educated anyway?  Does she have any friends?  I think she thought that there must be something "wrong" with Rhiannon and at the very least, I must be a bit of a weirdo or certainly irresponsible.

I fumed all the way home.

I was left feeling angry and frustrated at her blinkered views - almost felt like saying "you can keep your course then if you are going to be so prejudiced!"  It also left me feeling full of doubt about my decision to home educate......have I let her down?  I hope not.

But Rhiannon is determined to forge on ahead and prove her prejudices wrong.

A couple of A*'s at IGCSE wouldn't go amiss, but that would be administering pressure on Rhiannon just to make me feel better.  At the end of the day, when you home educate it has to be about the child and not your own ideas and aspirations, nor your own sense of comfort.

She has a "conditional offer" for a place on the course, providing she acquires 2 "D's"  in her exams!  I can only assume she is likening Rhiannon to a schooled child who only takes 2 GCSE's.


Carolyn said...

Goodness me, what an unpleasant experience.
Good job Rhiannon is very resiliant. She will do well, and wow them all!

Big mamma frog said...

Awww...{hugs} .

It is infuriating and upsetting when people are ignorant about home education. When they make prejudiced assumptions. It's tough to tolerate and frustrating to try and change.

I certainly don't think you have let her down. If you had left her in school you would probably be going through the same dilemas at this point - exams, courses, careers - and probably more so if she was in an environment where she wasn't able to focus on the things that really interested her. Plus there would be all the peer pressure to contend with. She sounds wonderfully determined and self-directed and that in itself is proof that home education has given her something that I suspect school couldn't.

Recently I've been trying to put myself in others' shoes. I've been thinking that there must be so many minority groups that I am ignorant - and unintentionally prejudiced - about. If I were to have a conversation with members of those groups how would it be? Would I say really dumb things, make stupid assumptions and ask bemusingly daft questions? Would I use my sparse knowledge (from media or heresay) to draw conclusions about them? I'd hope that I wouldn't, but I expect that I would.

So when others come out with those 'socialisation?' 'are you a teacher?' 'what about exams?' blah blah comments I think all we can do is hope that in time their ignorance will be replaced by knowledge, and that we are just the first teeny tiny challenging step towards that. It may be little consolation, but hopefully our actions (and tolerance) will make it easier for those home educators who follow us.

Carol said...

Thanks to both of you.

I think it was me who was most offended. It was like a personal attack on me and my choices (but then I guess it's our choices really). I suppose I have to expect to encounter these things some times sice I have "bucked the system".

Rhiannon didn't really seem too phased by it all - more amused than anything. I think that she doesn't care too much about what "they" think. If they'll "let" her on the course, then she'll just make use of the services provided as she sees it.

She says she feels strong.

I hope we have done the best for her...but then we'll never really know will we?

She's happy and self confident, - can't say that for too many 16 year olds I guess!

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