Updated: Aug 22, 2019
The school my children need doesn't exist. I guess I'll have to build it.
We 'do school' (homeschool that is) year-round.
But summer time is a little more relaxed.
This summer, while the kids are enjoying more friends, later nights, and lots of sun-and-pool time...
...I've been pondering, praying, puzzling over what's next in our family's education journey.
My 'kids' are getting older. Their needs are changing.
They're also approaching adulthood. Will they be ready to launch?
When we started traveling the world, I had four children under the age of four.
Their entire 'schooling years' have been traveling the globe -- 35+ countries over the past 12 years.
Those original four have grown up and are now teens (well, one is 12).
I also have three other kids that are the 'littles'. They were born on different dots on the map (Alaska, Costa Rica, and Germany).
Each group has distinctive needs and wants.
Each child has distinct interests and passions.
It's becoming increasingly difficult for 'little ole me' to be the teacher to seven unique children studying 5-7 subjects each...
I'm certainly not smart enough to teach them everything they need to know.
Nor do I have the 'bandwidth'.
I need to find new solutions.
Public school? (Not likely. Too broken.)
Private school? (Nah. Too similar.)
Continue traditional homeschooling? (we need more than it can offer)
Continue travel learning ? (ditto ^ )
A new curriculum?
Unsure of where we go from here, I do what I do. Dig deep into reading and studying.
It's what I did over 16 years ago when we decided we were going to homeschool (before we even had children).
It's what I do anytime along the journey when I've felt unsure or confused.
The 'foundations' of our educational approach have been:
And many, many more...
But most recently I've been diving deep again, this time into:
It's amazing what happens when you do that (study and read). Inspiration. Ideas. Insights.
A new vision -- an ideal -- begins to (re)form in my mind.
(It's not yet fully formed. My brain is still working that out.)
When you learn new ideas, the cells in your brain actually grow.
It's kind of (though not entirely) similar to your muscles growing when you lift weights.
They create new 'synapses' -- which is the way one brain cell communicates with another.
And when one cell connects with another?
Aha! That's when you get insights and inspiration.
The more synapses your brain builds and the more connections you create, the deeper your understanding of, well... everything.
But that's a fascinating little detour into how the brain actually learns.
Back to my idealized vision for my and my children's education.
The synapses of my brain almost have all the pieces connected...
...but for now, I know my vision includes:
Inspiring each child to find a calling and change the world
Mixed ages, like a one-world-schoolhouse, so we can learn from one another
Self-directed learning (my children buy into owning and pursuing their education)
A style of learning that is in alignment with how the world actually is, and how human beings actually learn
A focus on learning something because you need to know it or because you love it
A focus on developing mastery in a subject/passion instead of obtaining basic knowledge on lots of subjects that are disconnected (swiss cheese learning -- besides, not every student needs to be a grammarian or mathematician)
A curriculum that is real versus one that is flat (i.e. a real kitten vs. a picture of a kitten; living in Germany vs. reading a book or looking at a map)
Helping my children 'learn to be', 'learn to do', and 'learn to know'
Badges that prove mastery instead of grades
Portfolios of real world projects instead of grades and transcripts
Showing my kids how to learn, how to respond and recover, how to be innovators and creators in their own way
To achieve these lofty ideals, I won't be able to use existing education models. They aren't built with these as their foundation. (Except for Acton Academy, but we don't live near enough to one of their locations.)
None of the 'schooling' listed above will help me create my vision.
So what do I do?
That's what I've been racking my brain about for weeks.
Then I read a quote on my friend's fridge.
Successful people create the community they need.
And it hit me:
Successful parents create the school their children need.
I have to abandon the old models and start from scratch.
I need to build my own school.
Not like you're thinking -- a traditional school with teachers and desks and all that. Not a school with 'flat' curriculum that doesn't engage with real life.
Building our own school will look like this:
Montessori style learning for 'littles'
Asking the 'Be, Do, Know' questions daily
Written contracts and agreements between student (hero) and guide (mentor)
Accountability partners (best friends) for each student
Use 'microcosms' as often as possible
Periods of reflection and processing
Lessons (art, aerial silks, guitar)
Listening while doing (audiobooks or podcasts while doing chores, exercising, projects)
Online adaptive learning programs (to cover core skills -- reading, math, writing)
Badges to prove mastery in chosen pathways
Family trips (local, national, and international)
Apprenticeships and internships (not sure how to do this yet...)
Portfolios of real world work that shows what they can do (digital and hard copy -- website or YouTube channel?)