Saturday, 24 March 2012

Have I wasted my education?

This week was a strange week.

I had to deal with bullying at school.

My application for a research grant was rejected. I was not one of the 17% of applicants deemed good enough.

My son ran his school cross-country.

This morning we were told - as if we did not already know - Nursery workers so illiterate they struggle to read stories aloud.

It was not a difficult choice for me to remain at home. I was short-listed for a post-doctoral fellowship when my son was a few weeks old. On my way to the interview I knew that wasn't what I really wanted to do.

Over the next few years I had looked at nurseries and childminders to see if I could have my son away for a day or two every week so I could return to writing and publishing and then academic work.

But it became clear to me that while nursery staff and childminders could keep my child safe, they are not going to give him the type of intellectual stimuli that he deserves.

Why would I leave my precious son - child of a late marriage - to the care of people who are much less educated than I am?

Then my husband's long illness, my son's 'special education needs' and a successful home-run business meant the return to academia did not happen, till now.

Bullying at school. In our household we tend to "reason together". So my son cannot understand why one classmate keeps hitting him.

It's always done when no one is looking.

My son reported that the bully said he thinks "it is funny" to hit, presumably to see how my son and others react to the hitting.

I wonder if this bully has ever been smacked. He spent much of his young life in a day nursery as both his parents worked.

He now spends most of his time at school collecting "red points" and detention.

But his mother insists that if he really did bully my son, surely the teachers would have told her. Perhaps it is my son who is over-sensitive. Perhaps my son is the one who has to learn to handle teasing. Implicitly I am the over-protective mother.

Her boy clearly does not understand that hitting people and taunting them with unkind and untrue remarks cause hurt.

Now that he's been told to stay away from my son he's taken to attacking another boy.

Is there something in spending time in a nursery that causes a child to turn to aggression?

Not getting my research grant was a big disappointment. I could put it down to not returning to academia much earlier.

But looking at the total context of my family life, I think it is still the right choice to have stayed home to nurture my son.

What good is it for me to be a professor by now if the headmaster keeps calling me in to school to report my son's bad behaviour?

Better known for his academic and musical prowess and clearly not a natural sportsman he did very well in his cross-country (beating the bully and another athlete by a very long way).

My son is happy, except when this bully messes him up. Now that he is older he is better able to cope with his bullying. One day, I'm afraid, he might hit the bully.

That would only be construed as self-defence, I think.

He can't wait to go to the next school so that he does not have to see this bully again.

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