When I was pregnant with our son Jackson, Clark and I had a lot of interesting conversations that wouldn’t be anything more than theory for a long time.
Will we buy him a car when he is 16? How will we discipline him? What will his bedtime be? What will his curfew in high school be? Will we make him have a job while in school? Will he go to school?
I was pregnant. Jackson wasn’t even born yet. To say the least…these issues were not pressing.
We had some time to work these things out, but this is how we have always been. We really want to lead an examined life. A life that we direct, to the extent we can. We talk about these issues, the philosophical and the practical all the time. We look at other people’s lives and try to analyze what is working and not working for them.
It is exhausting sometimes. BUT we are driven.
This brings me to the topic of school. I mean if we are going to do full-time long-term travel we have to think about our kids schooling. Right?
Truth is that we had settled on non-traditional school long before we settled on long-term travel. I will come right out and say that we have some radical ideas about school. Here are a few questions that always bothered me.
- Why do kids love to learn, have an unquenchable thirst to learn until they go to school?
- Why is there “school” and the “real world”?
Why does the kitchen from a home circa 1950 look vastly different to a modern one yet the classroom looks almost the same?
These have been like splinters in my mind. I couldn’t get rid of the nagging thought that there had to be a better way.
They have been developing for years and we are just now starting to put them into practice. These ideas have been evolving over hours and hours of conversation, observations of other family members and their kids, friends, blogs, research and soul-searching. This is how we really all learn isn’t it? Why don’t we teach our kids this way? We are going to!
My particular journey away from public school started as a religious quam. I didn’t like many of the things that were being taught and the hostility my kids would face as Christians in that system. That was just the beginning though. Once I had decided that my kids wouldn’t be in the public schools I started questioning everything.
When Clark left his job and we went through those years of transitioning from salary to patchwork income we made the decision that if it wasn’t good enough for us to simply trade our time for money why would we put our kids in a school system that basically trains kids to trade their time for grades?
Many people have written on how our school system is set up to produce factory workers, not thinkers and innovators. (Note: I hope all the teachers out there aren’t up in arms. I really don’t blame you for any of this. I admire your skills and resolve, but think you are working in a broken system, hindered from doing what you are really capable of!)
As we transitioned away from private schools to a homeschool model I saw many people who were just “doing school at home”. This seemed like the worst scenario to me. If you are going to just move the system into your home why not take advantage of all that the schools can offer your kids? Why try to recreate the same broken wheel with your own tools?
Then I came across Unschooling, World Schooling or Interest Led Learning. It was like someone had been listening into our conversations, hearing our struggle and had the answer. It is not school at all. It is living. Teaching as we go. Letting our kids focus on what interests them, bring in resources to encourage their own curiosity. I think it is really teaching kids how to be in awe of the “real world”, be inquisitive and be resourceful in finding answers to that inquisitiveness. Once you instill those qualities knowledge and skills will follow.
“Instead of allowing someone else to direct our time and attention for most of the day
we’re taking responsibility for those ourselves: dreaming, planning, imagining, inventing, and living.
Instead of waiting for the life we’ve always wanted, or until someone tells us we’re qualified enough or have passed enough tests
we’re free to live the lives we want to now.”
I know everyone has different thoughts on this hot topic (great post on why it is touchy!). Each family is different and has different personalities and skills, time and priorities, but for us this just seems so right. We can take our kids on this journey with us.
Their learning won’t be disrupted by our travel it will be exponentially enhanced. We won’t bring binders of homework for our kids to try to make up but will learn each day and in each place right where we are.
If all works well our families interests will be the curriculum and the world will be our classroom.