Some of you will have read a couple of my 'What I would do if I won the Lottery' or 'Things I intend to do before I die' posts. But, in real life (I do have one you know - The Chimping Dandy is just my evil alter-ego, established to try and protect the innocent from my waffling opinionated diatribe) there's one thing that I said I would do if I won a decent amount of tax-free cash... It would need to be £25 Million or more to make it worth while.
I would yank the Dandylets out of school and 'Home School' them.
No, wait, stop laughing... Sit down, dry your eyes, put down that fire extinguisher and listen.
This year's UK Education Budget (for schools, not Further Education) is just over £77 Billion, and there are around 9.5 Million kids at school, or who have at least signed up for school, they may be sat in a pool of their own urine playing age-inappropriate games on a stolen PS3, doesn't matter. So, a bit of entirely in my head maths gives us a figure of £8,200 per child per year or £43 per day. And that's assuming that every school and every child gets the same amount... But they don't, the chunk of the money-pie that your kids' school gets varies wildly. There are all kinds of factors, how deprived the catchment area is, how popular the school is, how many 'Special Needs' kids the school has - All sorts of things, your mileage will almost certainly vary. And unbelievably, I used to be a School Governor, so I know these things.
Then the little snots actually have to listen whilst some adenoidal, gimlet-eyed jackanape with a degree in Media Studies drones on about crop rotation in the 18th Century for an hour every Thursday afternoon and turns them away from learning as if it were a low-quality DVD of their parents conceiving them at a Duran Duran reunion gig in Northampton in 2003. (If it were the late 80's - Early 90's now, I could have done a cracking Jethro Tull tie in - Damn this living in the future business! - And 5 points to the first person to pick up the cleverly hidden hook there...)
So, you've got schools that can't afford to make education interesting, and you've got kids that don't want to learn because it's boring, and you've got parents that whinge and whine about having to give the school a fiver once a year so that little Chablis and her surprisingly non-similar looking brother Leroy can go on an all-expenses paid, fully chaperoned day trip to a theme-park of their choice, travel, insurance and a limp ham sandwich for the coach driver included.
The obvious thing would be, if you cared about your kids education, and their usefulness as future citizens of the world, to say 'thanks but no thanks' to the State Education system and teach them yourself. Right?
No, completely wrong. Not most of the time, not for most of us. OK, it could be that the parent in question was a qualified teacher. But most of us aren't. It could be that the parent in question has a huge ring of friends who have children of similar ages that they are also home schooling who are geographically close enough to ensure the daily social interaction required for healthy emotional growth. But most of us haven't. It's possible that the parent that did the bulk of the 'schooling' would be open-minded enough to not present their mal-informed opinions as 'Gawd's Honest Truth' and give the child a full spectrum of ideas and let them pick their own opinions. But deep down, how many of us can say we'd do that? - I mean, the Mini-Dandy already hates the French, and I'm not sure she's ever actually met one (although it does make me proud and a little bit dewy eyed).
I know, and when I say 'know', what I actually mean is I occasionally breathe some of the same air as, a couple of people who Home-school their kids. And they're not teachers, not in any definition of the word... I mean, I wouldn't trust either of them to try and teach a dog to bark. One of them has a kid with, what are now called 'Behavioural Difficulties' that she regularly shouts loudly and colourfully at him for. The other's child is clingy to the point of me wondering if her Mother was involved in a medical trial involving in-utero injections of Octopus and Velcro DNA - Nice enough kid though, just tends to shadow her Mother, or her single, similarly aged friend at a distance of 3/4 of an inch at all times.
They can't be products of a well rounded education can they? I mean, I'm only looking in from the outside and I've got a distorted view, choc full of pre-conceived ideas and bigotry. But on most occasions when I see them, I do the whole sharp intake of breath thing, shake my head and say something like 'Poor kid!' slightly too loudly than is generally considered polite.
That's why I'd not try it myself, not unless I had access to almost limitless funds. I certainly couldn't do it if I worked for a living, what with teaching being a full-time job and everything. But if I did, if we won big, how would I go about it? Well, I'd have to generate some kind of curriculum I guess. I'd probably try to make everything tie together with real world examples.
English: Onto an easy gig here, both of the smaller Dandies devour the written word more voraciously than Kerry Katona wolfs down Iceland Frozen Prawn Rings - In fact, we often have to cover up the labels on the sauce bottles so the Micro-Dandy will stop reading them and eat his Dinner at night.
Art: We would fly by customised 4-seater Apache Gunship, once a week, to the major galleries of the world, The Louvre, Vatican Museums, Musee D'Orsay, British Museum, Reina Sofia, Pergamonmuseum and Guggenheim would hold no secrets from us, I'd get Fortnum & Mason packed lunches delivered and we'd all have a go at re-imagining the Old Masters in the style of Roy Lichtenstein
Physics: I would take everyone to the Grand Canyon and we'd throw water balloons off the edge, film it all with high speed cameras and whoop uncontrollably whilst we reviewed the footage, playing it backwards and forwards.
Chemistry: We'd watch re-runs of Breaking Bad and NOT cook Meth at all, ever, because that would be illegal. Might be fun to try some of the other stuff that Walter does though...
Biology: The rain forest would probably be the best place for this, wander about a bit, look at the pretty butterflies, maybe take a detour to the Galapagos Islands, ride a few turtles, poke a couple of marine Iguanas, let them sneeze salt onto us whilst we feed them exotic flowers.
History: I've always thought of wandering through France, looking disdainfully at the populace, muttering the word 'Vichy' under my breath every time I received poor service (So, like, probably quite a lot) and then buying a tank and driving it into Belgium to visit places like Ypres and Passchendaele.
Geography: Simple - You buy a big globe, spin it around, get one of the kids to stop it and buy four first-Class plane tickets to wherever their grubby fingers are pointing - Then spend a week speaking loudly to the natives in clipped Estuary English, adding 'O' to the end of every other word until they understand how to make a decent Martini.
Metalwork/Woodwork: I've always fancied a decent workshop, this would be the perfect excuse. There'd be hand-tools of every shape and size. Steam-powered machine-tools from Britain's Golden age and Japanese electronic marvels of 3D printing and Robotics. I would use them to make a matched set of Iron-Man suits, made of Ivory seized from Namibian poachers who disappeared shortly afterwards under unexplained circumstances.
Music: Metallica would play in one of the upstairs bathrooms every Wednesday, After which Kurt would give everyone Guitar Lessons, Rob would teach us all the Bass, James would show us how to growl without hurting our little throats and Lars would sit in the bath with a towel over his head being a bit of a cock.
Economics: I would leave the entire finances package, including foreign exchange rates, hotel bills, fines, tolls, restaurants and general household bills to the kids. In fairness, they'd be hard pushed to make more of a hash of it than me.
Once, in the dim and distant past, the now Head-Master of Mini-Dandy's Senior School said to me 'I think you'd make a great teacher... As long as you found yourself somehow mysteriously transported to 1850.' And I'll take that both as a complement and a vindication of my qualifications.
Anyone want me to educate their children for them?