Living in the North and Home education
I have started this blog partly to journal our life with the kids, so that if anyone were to ever ask me to show we've been educating the kids, I'll be able to look back and find out! It has been overtaken by recipes the last couple of weeks, but this post is an attempt to balance the recipes with the two biggest time-consumers in my life. The biggest thing is the Lord Jesus, but the time-consumers flow from my (our!) relationship with him.
First comes church. More specifically, church in the North-east in a new-town which replaced about 15 pit-village collieries.
We received excellent training, the best possible, at Oak Hill College. It couldn't have been better. But what we have learned since moving here, even more so that Middlesbrough, was that there are parts of England which are so different that ministry has to be different.
I'll admit to feeling clueless and ambivalent about the mining industry for most of my life. In fact, I would say I was unsympathetic. Two recent experiences changed that. The first was a visit to the Woodhorn museum in Northumberland, and the second was a trip down a drift mine at Beamish museum in Durham. Both those trips changed how I saw the people among who I live. For two hundred years our nation became advanced and wealthy off the backs of men, children and ponies who worked in unimaginable conditions to provide coal. Conditions were shocking, pay was meager... but the country ran on coal. Move forward to the middle of the 20th Century, the decreased need for coal and the cost of extraction mean the mines start to close. Two hundred years of hereditary jobs and identity is removed in one fell swoop. No wonder born-and bred locals can resent change. No wonder we're a Labour safe seat. No wonder it is hard for new people to fit in. One granny I spoke with said she felt like an outsider in our part of town after 20 years. She originated 1 mile away, in another part of town. But it was a different pit village 50 years ago, and many still see the distinction.
This means Nick and I know that vicars here cannot just come and go. They need to come and stay. There are very few evangelical churches here, far fewer than any place I have lived, and the job requires phenomenal time, relationships and commitment. God might move us from here one day, but for the moment, we've chucked our lot in with our town and that takes time.
Secondly, educating the kids.
Home education can be divisive. My aim is not to divide, but to try to describe the life we live and why do it.
We decided long ago, before having children that we would educate them at home. Nick and I are naturally non-conformers. My dad said we were only doing it to be different, and i think he is only 90% wrong! We knew a few adults who had been home-educated and it appealed to us in itself. Then, when our gifts of children came along, and we loved them, our natural inclination seemed to be with them all the time. I never felt like leaving them in a creche on Sunday, for example. I wasn't working out of the home, our parents lived miles away, and we were used to them being wherever we were, and we enjoyed that. Not sending them to nursery or school wasn't, therefore, a decision. It just wasn't ever really a consideration, except in those times when I panicked about ruining their education. It has nothing to do with local schools.
I am often told by people that they couldn't home educate. I have no opinion on whether that is true or not, but I would say a few things. I am not patient, I am often unkind, I am not a genius and I struggle to impart mathematical concepts to my children despite having maths A level. I am disorganised by nature, and I am not a completer-finisher. I am weak, I am sinful. However, I know that the Lord is with us in our journey with the kids. In a way, educating at home is just a different way of discipling the children in their walk with the Lord ( With maths thrown in). We read the wonderful word of God together like any family, we sin against them and repent, we are sinned against and forgive. And we do addition equations. The point it, as the Lord is with families in their struggle against the fallen nature of everything, so he is with us. My fallen mind struggles with maths but he provides help. My fallen heart struggles to be patient with a new reader, but He provides strength. We just choose to do it 24/7. Not because we are better Christians, but because He is in it with us, every minute. And it is a great privilege. Germans, Dutch, some Scandinavians, they are not allowed to home-educate, so we give thanks that we have the freedom to choose.
The other help is social media, and the other is the PLETHORA of curriucula to choose from. More of which, another time!