Mask and Mirror: Why Instagram Ain’t Your Friend
Let me begin by saying that I know, deep down, that I’m a technophobe. The fact that I can almost instantly follow that up with the fact that I’m also more than a dash antisocial, makes me wonder just what kind of tech-free, people-free Eden I’d be wandering in right now if I could have it my way. Perhaps some kind of glamorous remake of Castaway, with wine and duvets and plenty of good books? But my topic is Instagram and it’s a funny one to post about when, like me, you’ve never even done it. Not once. I’ve heard all about it though, which I kind of think is all you need.
So, this isn’t a dig at you personally if you are on Instagram, like the rest of the world. Really, it’s not. And even I can see the appeal when I think about it. For anyone who is creating a tangible ‘product’ through their work or hobby, this is clearly an ideal ‘gallery’ to display. Like a shop window. We all appreciate good photography and tempting food, holidays, and clothing. I totally get it and why not, you know? It’s a bit of fun. But that’s where we should draw the line, I feel. Once it’s anything more than a 21st century flick through the coffee table glossy mag. ‘We should not,’ a wise person once told me, ‘compare our insides to another person’s outsides.’ Thanks, Jax Blunt.
Here’s why I don’t think Instagram is going to help you out with home educating:
- Homeschooling is Messy. But like, actually messy, not artfully strewn. Think more along the lines of balled-up sellotape kicking about, books and piles of laundry on the floor (‘Who’s is this?’), and a giant cardboard rocket made out of cereal boxes (painted? nope.) leaning sadly in the corner pondering, as we all do, the purpose of it’s existence.
- Homeschooling is Chaotic and Child-Led. And if you’re doing it, you’ll know what I mean. I have no idea from one minute to the next what extravagant plans my children will come up with. Even snapping the occasional pic for the grandparents is a tough call. They’ll all be lined up making pizza dough together once minute, then my daughter shoots off to find her book, while the baby starts throwing handfuls of flour at the wall.
- Homeschool Hands are Always Full. Whether I’m fixing a remote control, finding thread to make a bead bracelet, printing off some information about motorbikes that my middle son has to know right now, or simply restraining the baby as he tries to lick the vacuum cleaner…I literally don’t have room for anything else to hold. Let alone swipe and upload. And I sort of like it that way.
- Homeschool Learning Moments are Fragile. Because real learning happens in a bubble of time and place. A boy figuring out the words for himself, lips moving silently, sounding out the words. A girl planting mint in the herb box outside, the paving smeared with earth. A baby licking a vacuum cleaner. They might not look like much, but what’s going on is important, and you don’t want to break the moment.
- Homeschooling is Unique. And this is probably the most significant point. We are all so different. I am yet to meet a homeschooling family that I could easily compare to another; such is the variety. There is little to be gained from checking out idyllic woodland walks, if your kids are miserable on hikes. And similarly, it is a waste of time prepping resources to set up an incredible craft activity you saw on Insta, when you know this isn’t really your seven-year-old’s idea of fun. Try asking the kids for ideas, instead.
- Homeschooling is About What You Don’t See. Like the ‘eureka!’ moment when one of them grasps a mathematical concept, or the rainy afternoon you introduced them to a classic movie or musical. You can’t capture this stuff; it’s the beauty of life – the true, ephemeral spirit of learning – and it eludes us every time.
So no, I don’t do Instagram, and that’s not just because trying to grab my kids for a photo is about as straightforward as catching a Cornish Pixie with a butterly net. It’s because, really, I don’t see the point.