First Day of School . . .

28 Jan

Taking Z out of school for a year to travel proved less problematic than I’d thought. The headmaster and attendance officer basically said, “Where are you going? Brilliant! Keep an eye on the Maths and English.”

The Learning Trust, which administers education in our borough (Hackney), sent two people round the house with concerned expressions and a form.

The plan is for every Monday to be a school day, no matter what, and for Z to write a journal every night and an email to friends and family every Wednesday. Reading will look after itself. It’s writing that he hates.

Educational materials I’ve brought for him are: maths worksheets from an extension programme developed by the Centre for Innovation in Maths Teaching, a writing exercise book for left-handers, paper, coloured pencils, biros and graphite drawing pencils.

Educational materials I’ve brought for myself include a bunch of literally and metaphorically heavy books on South-East Asian history, the Khmer Rouge, the American/IndoChina/Vietnam War, the struggle for independence and WWII in Asia.

There were a whole bunch of civilisations in this area creating great art and dazzling architecture while Britons were still wearing woad and working with wattle and daub, about which I knew, effectively, diddly squat.

There is also a complicated, painful and colourful colonial and post-colonial history for which my main references were Apocalypse Now and The Deer Hunter, aka the American trauma of killing brown people and getting high. (Cf also Good Morning Vietnam!, Jacob’s Ladder and Platoon.)

Histories of the “world” tend to cover pre-conquest Latin America and pre-protectorate Asia (except China) in about three pages, while devoting endless pages to different groups of Norsemen/Normans engaging in strife so internecine as to be virtually incestuous around the East Atlantic.


I had hoped we could get from Long Beach on Koh Chang to Koh Mak in one evening, leaving the day free for education/mutual torture. But both pickups and the wooden/slow/cheap boat leave in the morning, so we got two sawngthaews to Bang Bao, Koh Chang, to stay for the night and catch the boat next morning.

Z looked after the bags, while I found a really sweet cheapish guesthouse, with shacks on stilts over the pier, located the lovely lady from Issa who runs it, lugged our stuff over (I will be reading books in weight order), got supplies, and settled onto the verandah, with the tide washing in below us, wooden boats rocking on the waves, and pencils dropping merrily through the gaps in the boards to a watery grave.

The original plan was:

Maths = five fractions worksheets
English & Art = write a brochure for Treehouse with pictures
Geography = old-school Q&A on Thailand, population, crops, adjoining countries, political system, religion, language, latitude, capital city, oceans &c
Science & Art = Germination, with drawn studies of palm trees and coconuts in their various stages of growth
Writing = three pages of the handwriting book

Obviously, this was wildly over-ambitious.

Z working hard at a seafood restaurant on Bang Bao pier, Koh Chang, Thailand

They do Maths differently these days, plus the lazy little so-and-so has managed to get to Year 4 without learning his times tables. So we ended up covering long division, long addition and long subtraction, continued our battle on the relative utility of rote-learning times tables rather than counting upwards in units as and when required, and discovered extensive gaps in my visual-spatial reasoning when it comes to linking fractions and areas.

In the end, we managed Maths, English and Geography, using Lonely Planet South-East Asia as a reference, with relatively minimal conflict, no threats and a bribe approximately every two hours.

one Sprite to get the ball rolling
his choice of restaurant for lunch, and food (oysters: luscious, stunningly fresh and juicy, but too big for him)
two lemon shakes (watermelon was off)
a movie on his laptop in the evening (Bolt).

I had forgotten that Monday is pocket money day. Or, rather, omitted to link the pocket money (60 baht) to the schooling. Onwards and upwards…

Similar Posts

2 Responses to “First Day of School . . .”

  1. Mark Eccles January 29, 2010 at 1:01 am #

    Hi Theo, looks like you and Zac are in for some adventures. Well done, reading your reports I see your wit is as sharp as ever. I look forward to reading more…



    • MummyT February 2, 2010 at 12:20 am #

      hello! great to hear from you have thought of you often, not least because Z is travelling with the bag you brought him from Mexico: it’s had good wear already and is now carrying his life for a year. Just sitting on a balcony in Kampot, where the crickets are idyllic, there’s a breeze off the river, and more than one of the local lady dogs is clearly on heat… xxx

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: