My son and I have embarked on our third bed-time reading of The Chronicles of Narnia, a chapter per night. No matter how many times you read it, you'll pick up something new every time.

We're near the end of the first book, "The Magician's Nephew" - the book that gives me goosebumps every time when I read of Aslan singing the world into existance, and crying with Digory over his mother's illness.

This time round while reading, I realized that Narnia is the land I long for - which probably only heaven can be, but which creation at the very beginning may just have looked like.

A land of lush valleys, bordered on the east by the sea and the west by a cliff from which a huge waterfall of crystal water cascades and runs through to the sea. Archenland across the desert to the south, the northern marches to the north. Narnia, a green jewel nestled in the center. A land where "clothes not only look good, but feel good too". Where animals and humans live in peace and tranquility (bar the odd evil witch), working the earth together, celebrating life, feasting and dancing beneath the arms of the tree-folk. Where who you are matters, as do honour and doing right. Where school walls crumble beneath a lion's roar and are overrun by grape vines - releasing the children from scratchy uniforms to run wild with Baccus and his girls.

Then I got to thinking what school or education might look like in Narnia - as opposed to the experience my son kicks against every morning, and which runs his waking hours in the form of attendance and homework. I put it to him too, and we came up with some ideas. Lessons in the art of feasting, in nature, in useful tools for life with fellow-man and beast. Lessons likely learnt from parents and extended family. Unfettered by hard desks and restricting conformity, likely to be outdoors when the weather holds, or around a cosy fire if the White Witch has made it forever winter. No uniforms, no heavy histories to learn - only the joy of discovering the path your kind have walked to where you are now, and learning from the examples of your elders. A process of becoming everything you could ever be, in the time it takes for it to happen naturally - not a set 12 years (and get it right or else).

Eutopia? Most certainly!

But it also got me wondering how much of what our kids learn in school these days is necessary to their life-success, their happiness, their actual survival. Are we just putting them through a "tried and tested" system, because it's expected not only by society, but also as a basis for a job that earns money that keeps you buying stuff you don't really need so you can look like you know who you are and where you're going? And where are those skills that ensure harmonious living with the world around us - man, beast and nature? At most an "environmental" subject is thrown in every year, but it's theory and the kids never get their hands dirty with rich warm soil.

Perhaps I'm too much of an idealist. Perhaps this flu that's crept up on me overnight and kept me in a mind-fog all day has something to do with my fantasies and mind-journeys. Or I could be seeing truth. Something to strive for. A chance to truly live - even though this is not Narnia.