I just read an article about “world schooling,” otherwise known as “travel schooling,” or schooling that involves interaction with the greater world around us. The article suggested that kids who are left to discover the world on their own will have more self-direction and develop a sense of purpose naturally. That may be true, but I believe there are many ways to find one’s purpose. I also believe that no matter which style of schooling, some kids will always have more self-direction than others.
I do think there are some definite benefits to taking time out of your regularly scheduled programming to explore the world a little. It can be as simple as taking time out of your day to explore your neighborhood, or as extravagant as sailing the world with your kids in your boat. Some families hop in an RV and take a few months to tour the country, stopping at historical sites and gazing at natural wonders. Some families make every Friday a day for field trips. Some families take a magnifying glass out to the backyard to search for bugs and worms. The point is to take a break from the pencils and workbooks and computer screens and engage in some personal time with the world outside the house.
My family was fortunate to do some world schooling this month. I took my two middle school age boys to Europe for two weeks. We spent a week in London and about a week in Paris. I’m not sure I can even tell you all that we learned on this trip, but we definitely came away from it with knowledge and experience that we didn’t previously have. I don’t think the full impact of the trip will even settle with us for a long while to come.
We did many of the typical tourist things, like watching the changing of the guard at Buckingham Palace and riding in the London Eye- the large Ferris wheel that provides an excellent view of the entire city. We took a double decker tour bus around both cities and listened to the guide explain the various buildings and sites. We rode up to the middle of the Eiffel Tower and gazed out at Paris while the evening lights glowed in the misty rain.
We also explored small portions of the British Museum, the Louvre, and the Musée d’Orsay. I told the boys I was counting this as Art for school, so they read the signs about the items that interested them and came away with knowledge about different cultures and time periods. My younger son was fascinated by all the different sculpture, particularly in the Musée d’Orsay. He kept making up stories to go along with the statues. My older son liked looking at the intricately carved netsukes in the Japanese section of the British Museum.
We saw the theatrical production of Harry Potter and the Cursed Child as well. It was a brilliant and magical production that we will never forget. We promised to Keep the Secrets, so I can’t tell you about the show, other than to say that they turned a mediocre script into a magnificent spectacle. My biggest lesson learned was not to judge something too quickly.
The entire time we were on this trip, I kept thinking of an article I wrote in 2014 called Making Connections. As I said earlier, I cannot tell you exactly what we learned on this trip, but I’m positive that we were making connections to the past and the future. I know that if my son is required to read, say, The Hunchback of Notre Dame in college, he will be able to endure those first 2oo pages that describe the cathedral in intimate detail because he will know exactly what the cathedral looks like and will be able to say, “Hey! I know what this author means!” I know that when my son reads about the princes imprisoned in the Tower of London, he will be able to picture exactly where it happened. And in the future, when news comes on about either London or Paris, my kids will pay a little closer attention because now these places occupy space in their hearts and minds. I’m so grateful to be able to have the chance to share these opportunities with my children.