‘No government grant could replace this’ – Our guest blogger shares why, as a parent, she supports the role of parents and the #FairFamilyFunding campaign.
Passing on a skill does more than keep a handicraft alive. It assigns value to the recipient in a much deeper way than viewing that same skill on a YouTube tutorial. (As helpful as those things are).
I recently taught my two young daughters to crochet. Admittedly without YouTube, this may never have happened, as I was rusty and needed to brush up! But the source of my original skill was my own mother. And revisiting crochet hooks and wool brought a special part of my childhood to life, and reminded me of the deep appreciation of every skill ever taught to me by my parents.
I must have been an intelligent child, because my Dad had me drawing lifelike portraits after his own artistic skill. He also taught me long division at the age of seven. I can still remember pulling that hat trick at school, and how proud I felt that he had taken the time out to sit me on his knee with pen and paper. I can hear him now, explaining the steps. It was easy because he just wanted to share the skill, and I wanted to receive his knowledge and attention. There was no agenda, no scope and sequence when learning maths at the knee of my father. Just his warmth, his strong capable and safe presence reassuring me.
Both my parents worked from home in an artisan business, so there was never technically “time” for anything. But my mother still made our clothes and patiently taught me how. She had very exacting standards, having been a dressmaker in England after the war. On the rare occasions I sew now, or help my daughters with their projects, I can hear her advice and careful explanations. They play in my head unlike any narrative I ever heard at school.
I learnt to cook while my mother made dinner: stews, pastry, white sauce, chopping an onion, mixing a cake. All skills I never learned at school, but take for granted now. Her patient voice is always in my head as I heed her instruction while cooking. My dad even instructed me in building – I was fascinated by the extensions he made to our home, how the timber frames were notched and fitted together and raised as walls. He showed me chiselling and how to use G-clamps and I cannot now smell sawdust or Aerogard (we lived beside a cow paddock) without thinking of my father, muscles taught, tanned and strong with building debris and dust stuck to him everywhere.
Even literature I learned at home. Before bed I was read to: The Wind in the Willows, the whole set of the Borrowers books by Mary Norton; how those little characters filled my dreams and my imagination. Writing always came easily to me after those countless loving hours of my mother’s voice reading carefully chosen books. Language has a metre and a flow which needs to be heard from the cradle to be appreciated. It cannot be taught at school using dry workbooks, no matter how many a government grant is given. There simply isn’t time for hundreds of hours of reading aloud.
We all have narratives from our childhood. Yours may be different skills from those above, but they all contribute to who we are and are wonderful to celebrate. Which brings us back to our starting premise:
‘No government grant could ever replace this.’
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