Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Chit-chat Wednesday and life was easier in my mother's day because

My mother didn't have to go through the excruciating business of selecting a school for her offspring. I think Mum would be amazed if she saw the knots some of us are going through (as in my good self) in trying to choose a school. Regular readers may recall my daughter was offered places in two excellent although widely different schools.
One is a public school with a brilliant emphasis on the arts. It’s a small school which is wonderful but the drawback is that after three years she would have to transfer to another school (the reason I have doubts).
The other school is a traditional Parish school also with an outstanding reputation in teaching literacy and numeracy. This one is in walking distance and has a lovely nurturing environment - and the advantage of Daisy being able to stay put for seven years.
For many weeks I have turned myself inside out trying to come to a solution. Spiritual discipline and academia versus creative dramatic fun and play. It is not as easy a choice as it sounds, the more you reflect upon it. You feel you are holding a soul's destiny in your hands.
My mother, however, would have had none of this nonsense. She just popped us into whatever school was nearest. I don't think she would have wasted a nanosecond agonizing over the curriculum, quality of teachers, discipline policies (discipline? Just cane them all!). I think Mum's eyes would pop if she saw some of the women I know describing the agonies they have gone through for schools. Women in tears in the principal's office (this isn't me but I can relate, believe me). Plus all the antics regarding waiting lists, the bitching about who got into where and the frantic race for babies not even conceived to go onto lists of overcrowded schools. It is a jungle out there in the modern day Sydney school system.
Some days I wonder if I should homeschool and try to escape the madness, although the Scribe says it would kill me. The weekend papers ran a story about five being too young to start kindergarten which opened another huge can of worry worms.
When I spend the entire day fretting over which school is best for my darling daughter, I think of my mother how she would enrol us in any school and think nothing of pulling us out to take us to New Guinea.
This leads to thoughts of how I often feel I failed to achieve academically in life (I left school early) and how I don't want my daughter to make the same mistakes I did. I have made lists, meditated, spoken to a wide range of people and still have to make a decision. Like a decision right now as time has run out.
Life was easier in my mother's day.
And some good news for us is that my beloved Scribe's wonderful non-fiction book, Tour To Hell, has been picked from a field of 165 books to be shortlisted with five others for the 2009 CAL Waverley Library Award (The Nib). The winner of the $20,000 prize will be announced in a couple of weeks. I am so proud of him and his amazing book.
Thanks for popping in. xx


  1. i see your agony...i see it so much with friends...its a very hard decision!! one that is not easily made as you have your daughters best interests at heart. My daughter is only just 3 so i have a long way off before deciding! though i know some friends move before their child is born to get the right schooling!!...i think im more old fashioned in my thinking. I want to teach my daughter at home-- a friend does it and ive watched her children grow into very confident, well rounded, intelligent children...That one-on-one time to me seems so important!...i didnt get that and struggled and was left behind in class with teachers shouting at me "your so thick"...i never want my daughter to loose the confidence i will give her like i did. In a class of 30 you can get easily forgotten like i did...I also realised with home teaching there are meet up groups and camping holidays to get all the kids together in a social enviroment so they still get to make friends in after school hours...thats what im thinking about anyway- i wonder if its the right choice i know how you feel x

  2. Well it seems you are in a big dilemma, but am pretty hopeful that in the end you would make a right choice for yourself and your daughter as well!!

    Wishing you all the luck!!

    And I totally agree life earlier was easy..with lesser choices..the more the choices..the bigger the confusion..

  3. Firstly, congratulations to your husband - that is wicked. Finger's crossed for the main prize! Do let us know how he fairs.

    Now - schools. Hmm...interesting...I kind of got the impression that the nearer school was probably the one you favoured more from the way you wrote.... My thinking is - if your daughter is going to be arty -she will naturally be arty for the love of it and I imagine there is a high chance she'll take after you - lots of kids do if they grow up in that kind of open/expressive environment and I know you will always be encouraging and helpful in those areas because that is your expertise and forte - it is your passion and when one is surrounded by someone who is passionate, it is hard to avoid some of it rubbing off on you.

    Maths and Science are useful and more difficult to master so she might very well benefit from a good start in these areas.

    What I'm torn over is the moving schools part. I got moved around a lot. It is hard being the new kid - it is tough...and sometimes I wished I'd always stayed in one place like some other friends. BUT it was also character building and variety is always good for you. Mild childhood hardships/change can be very strengthening and allow for sensitivity, understanding to develop and an ability to see things from a range of different perspectives etc.

    Hmm...that doesn't help you.... Well, ask her what she prefers? Or think, if someone took away one of the options - say the art school- how would you react? It is difficult but whatever decision you do make, you will know that you thought about it carefully and made the decision with your daughter's best interests at heart. I'm sure whatever you choose, it will be

  4. Congratulations to the Scribe! Re: the schools- I have heard from all of my friends with children that this is a nightmare..! Best of luck with your choice...

  5. There seems to be so much more pressure these days on mother's to do everything perfectly. Now keep in mind I am not a mother so it is easy for me to say, but I believe whatever choice you make will be perfect for your gorgeous girl. Each choice will come with gifts and challenges. It is impossible to pick the perfect school or create the perfect childhood but ultimately that is a good thing because it is the challenges that inspire us to grow.

    I went to Montessori and then to a Lutheran school and then to public school. Each one had their gift and their curse and I learned a lot about myself in each place.

    Good luck, Lovely!xoxo

  6. Did you get my comment? I wrote a massive essay earlier today to you! Oh dear.... :(xxx

  7. i think my schooling must've been a bit like yours...i was given the choice of going to private school or having a horse. gee....i was 11. what do you think i chose?
    anyway...i ended up at public school..dropped out early and although i have never been unemployed i am in a dead end job. that i enjoy immensely!
    personally i wouldn't have changed anything, but times are so very different now. i imagine you wouldn't be able to drop out at the end of form 4 (year 10) these days.

  8. Things are so different here in the United States. Unless you are among the fortunate few who can afford private school (very expensive here) you enroll your child in whichever school the district says he / she is supposed to attend.

  9. such a hard choice. my mother was not concerned at all about my education and i just went to the local state school, which was fine. my parents' greatest aspirations for me were that i would leave school after form 4 and get a job. that fact that i went on to form 5 and 6 and then university was tolerated at best, but i stuck to my guns. i think the point is if i can rise above parental expectations, imagine what daisy can achieve WITH your concern and support, no matter which primary school she attends! good luck with your decision - i think the curious cat's suggestion about imagining that one of the choices is withdrawn is a great one.

  10. Thank you all for that response. Mermaid's purse, I really admire people who do homeschool. I feel really sad that your teachers were so harsh in their treatment of you. And yes, in big classes it is easy to get missed as well. I shall look forward to reading when Sweetpea gets a little older what your choices will be.
    Daydreamer, it is so true that sometimes choice can be harder. I have been spoilt in that I do have two fabulous schools to pick from. And I do tend to overthink and overworry everything. Curious Cat, thank you as always for your measured and thoughtful response. Another friend said a similar thing to me the other day that her father-in-law who is a psychologist said when you have a difficult choice to imagine one taken away and see how you feel. The one that you can't tolerate the thought of going then that's the right path. I will pass on you and Jennifer's congratulations to the Scribe. Thank you both! Cat, if you enjoy your 'dead end'job that's brilliant. I would have picked the horse too! I love being a mother and writer but have always found my 'real life' jobs far below what I would have wanted for myself and I would hate to see Daisy have to go through some of them! Although when I look back nursing was always of benefit but I did have a job cleaning toilets once! That's about as dead end as it gets! Jen, thanks for your comment. It's always fascinating to see how things are different in other countries. The system you have described is how it used to be in Australia but now they do allow you to apply for schools that are not in your zone. Pinry, I always suspect you are a bit of a superwoman as you know. I did in fact go on to further my education with a BFA (some people might debate that it so) I am the first Pennicott of my family to have achieved that much and so hopefully Daisy will inherit my desire for learning. And her father's brains! xx

  11. I enjoyed reading this post. I, too, have a four year-old and am weighing these same sorts of options. Friends and I were discussing this very topic last evening: Our parents never agonized over this decision - they simply sent us to the nearest public school. We figured that it was a Portland, Oregon thing. It's interesting to hear that you are contemplating the same issues in Australia! As always, I enjoy reading your blog.


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