Sunday, 15 February 2009


There is a boy in the class I teach every Wednesday, who I will refer to as Daniel. He is a tall, thin boy with delicate features and blond hair. He stands and walks with a stoop and his head bowed as if he is not happy to be standing so tall. He is intelligent and curious and sensitive, and always has his head in a book. He is a great fan of Michael Morpurgo and has read many of his books several times.

At the start of the maths lessons, when I am waiting for everyone to get ready, he wastes not a minute, his head in his book.

He has a wonderful way with words and writes the most amazing poetry that would not be out of place in a published book.

He writes long, elaborate stories in a mature style. However, they can sometimes be a little gritty or dark. I have noticed that Michael Morpurgo has written dark and 'realistic' episodes in the two recent books I have read; 'Private Peaceful' and 'Alone on the Wide, Wide Sea'. I would not be comfortable if my 10 year old were to read these books. I think they are more suitable for someone of say, 14. Daniel's latest story, written for an assessment, ended with the main character committing suicide because his father and all his friends had perished.

Although Daniel has several siblings, he prefers the company of adults. He does not have any close friends among his classmates even though they have all been together since they were four. When the class went on an adventure holiday together he preferred to sit with the teachers rather than the other children. This was not welcomed by them and they engineered the going-into-the-dining-room so he would have no chance to do this. This ageism attitude is a shame because I expect Daniel would hold his own in most adult conversations.

He never enjoys going outside at playtime. Unfortunately the staff at the school still insist on him going out to play because 'he has got to learn to play with the other children'. He has had the opportunity to learn to play with them twice a day for 6 years but has not managed it yet. I wonder why adults insist that all children should play with other children? It seems to me that Daniel does not have much in common with the children in his school. This does not mean that there is anything wrong with him, anything that needs fixing, just that he is different from the others around him.

As you can imagine, he does not like playing football. (English football.) Or hockey, or I expect tag rugby, which is the next game of the PE curriculum. He does, however enjoy cricket, he tells me, but sorry Daniel, that is not on the National Curriculum at this time. It is not just that he does not like playing football, he uses the 'h' word for it. Because he does not like these games he is not very good at them. Therefore the other children in the class do not want to be his partner, be in his group or have him on his team.

We have been recently doing hockey and I made a big mistake during the last lesson. I decided to let Daniel be the captain and pick his team, because we were going to play a game. I don't usually do this picking teams business, as I usually give each child number. Somehow I thought by having him pick teams it would give him a bit of kudos. But I was wrong. What happened was that when he picked someone for his team they would make a face/noise to show their displeasure. When he was deciding who to pick, some of them would be visibly 'willing' him to not pick them. I felt really bad that I had put him in this position, and he had to endure this until all children were in a team.

At the moment Daniel attends a small, friendly Roman Catholic Primary school that has a family atmosphere. I dread to think how he will fare when he goes to the state secondary school next year!

It seems to me that he is a perfect candidate for being home educated. I can almost hear those people, who do not know much about home education, say, "but he has to learn to get on with people" and "how will he become socialised staying at home all the time?" Well, if he was home educated he would be meeting more people in the community, at the library, museum, shops etc. And it is likely that he would find a kindred spirit amongst the other home educated children who meet together regularly for various activities.