On Tuesday I'm going to Holland. My sister is in hospital again and I'm going to stay with her children for at least a week. My niece is in the middle of her final exams and these past few weeks it hasn't been easy for her to concentrate on her learning. Fortunately, her mentor is aware of the situation and is helping her any way he can. She goes to one of the best Steiner schools in Holland and enjoys going, she's actually thriving. I think if we'd still be living in Holland Myrna would probably want to go to that school and I wouldn't have any problems with it.
It's a shame there isn't such a school here, at least not anywhere close to where we are.
I find that even though home education is practically illegal in Holland, there is a wider range of school educational systems than in this country. Every major city has Steiner, Montessori, Jenaplan, Freynet schools as well as 'regular' ones, for all religious and non-religious walks of life. There are even quite a few private schools based on the Sudbury Valley School principles.
In this country educating your child outside the school system is a legal right, which cannot be appreciated enough. But - as far as I know, and I must admit I haven't done extensive research into the matter - there is a very limited choice of educational systems in schools. Which means that - unfortunately - the initial choice to home educate (or homeschool) is often a negative one: "I don't want to send my children to school." Instead of the positive: 'I want to home educate my child(ren) because I believe it's the best possible thing for them.'
In my eyes the difference in educational possibilities typifies the difference between the two countries.
Very generally speaking my impression is that in Britain things are more extreme, black and white, either / or, where in Holland there is a larger scale of greys.
Look at the difference in politics.
In Holland there are over thirty active political parties, of which I think twelve have representatives in the national parliament; the other ones are mainly active in local or regional politics.
And, as Wikipedia states, the UK is nearly but not quite a two-party system.
Anyway, I suppose I was just trying to say that my niece enjoys going to school and is very motivated to do well in her exams... which might sound like cursing in church on a home edders weblog ;), but I think it's wonderful and I can see her schoolgoing life genuinely suits her. She has spent a lot of time in our family, also here in England, and she absolutely agrees we're doing the right thing for us, but she's still adamant about preferring (her) school to home education for herself. And since she is a well balanced, confident, intelligent and happy girl I can only agree with her.
Obviously with my impending departure there are lists all over the house with 'things to do before I leave'. Also listed was getting the garden sorted. I'm not a very skilled gardener, but I just love putting my hands in the earth, digging and planting. I know it sounds silly, but I talk to every plant, tell them how pretty they are, why I bought them and how I hope they will feel comfortable and happy in our garden.
Only my little sedum plants didn't last very long. The morning after I planted them they were all dug up and in bits, poor things. First I blamed the cats, but then I saw from my bedroom window how the blackbirds were pecking at them, having a feast! Anyone knew that?
Ah well, such is nature, to eat or to be eaten.