This week would have been the first day in regular school for my daughter. Would have, if I hadn’t signed us out of the country where we both were born in. Even though my child has lived most of her life outside of Germany, she still counted as a resident and therefore would have had her first day in the German school system.
I had lived abroad years before she was born. Not in one country, but in different places in the world. I returned to Germany to give birth and we lived the first two years of her live there. Even before she was born, I was told, that I would have to change my life style not later then when my daughter would start school. Kids need stability, they need to learn how to socialize and school would be the place to learn that. I always brushed that conversation aside and ensured them that there would still be enough time until that day to come.
To be honest, I didn’t really knew back then what we would do. While I used to always have a 2-year plan, while working in the corporate world, I had learned that life constantly invites us to readjust plans according to what we have learned and to current circumstances.
Now, that the day has come, I am happy to share what I have learned and what plan we are following.
A few years back, all these crazy ways of schooling didn’t mean much to me, nor had I even heard about most of them. What I had, were lots of prejudices about homeschooling: Homeschoolers are raised by weirdos and are bound to become weirdos themselves.
Often in life, unpleasant experiences lead us to new awareness:
I was living a badass life, single mum, running my own charity organization without any financial, emotional or other support from outside. I had left everything behind and lived with my daughter location independent, means without a home base. We personally accompanied 10 cleft patients in the Philippines, for several month on their healing journey. We lived in Central Thailand and volunteered at a Children’s Home when I fell sick with Dengue Fever. One of my worst night mares became reality. Falling sick, being all alone with my child. I remember breaking into tears, when the doctor told me I would need to be hospitalized. “I can’t go to hospital, I am alone with my child”, I cried. I had prepared for a moment like that, always had enough money to be able to pay for someone to help me with my child, in case I would be sick, but being in hospital, not possible. “No problem”, assured the doctor, “you can bring your child with you.” In hindsight, I’d rather be in hospital somewhere in Thailand where I can bring my child, then in Germany where that wouldn’t be possible. So we spent one week in hospital, laying in bed, holding my child in one arm while having an infusion bottle in the other. I choose the arm for the IV, according to how I could hold my child with the other arm and having her sleep on the wall, so she couldn’t fall out of bed. I am organized, I do think ahead.
This experience made me so much stronger, in so many ways. I know, we are being taken care of, I know we will master any given situation. I know what we are capable of.
What does this has to do with the kind of schooling I choose for my daughter?
Well, a few days after I discharged myself from hospital to start my own Dengue Healing Protocol, I received messages from friends from Germany. Two, to be exactly. One email and one whatsApp message. Both with identical content. That clearly showed that these two friends had been talking about bringing me to my senses. They pointed out, that they didn’t support my charity organization, as they didn’t approve of the way I was raising my child. Me being in hospital was the final straw. They said they couldn’t watch any longer, how I denied my child security, wealth and health. Further they said, they knew I would be to stubborn to listen, but for the sake of their own consciousness they had to write to me and at least try to make me come to my senses.
I was hurt. Not yet recovered from Dengue Fever, I had received another punch. Being judged by so called friends. They implied selfish motives and didn’t even try to see that every single decision I made was in the best interest of my child. They didn’t even bother to ask. No one actually did. They didn’t see that I made sacrifices in order to enable my child to have a better life. They didn’t even see how I prevented myself and my child of having to a live a life in poverty and depression. How I created joy from a dark place.
I wanted to write to them, telling them that I was not stupid to see that they were talking about me and how ridiculous it was to write two almost identical messages. Instead, I replied to both of them, with the identical message, one received my response via email, the other via Whats App. I thanked them for reaching out and for the fact, that they were still thinking of us after such a long time. I assured them that we were fine and wished them well. I never ever heard of either of them.
What they do not know, is the fact, that they did talk sense into me. I appreciate their courage for speaking up, especially when they thought a child was in danger. Up until then, I just followed my gut feeling. My child was 3 years old and I didn’t think about schooling or long term effects on the way I was raising her. But their mistrust triggered me to do research and to really look in detail on our way of living. Basically, I brought everything I did unconsciously to a conscious level. I learned that the closest way to describe what I was doing was called “Worldschooling”. I learned about Unschooling, Radical Unschooling and I learned that there where many many families out there who lived like us, a life outside the box.
Since then, another three years have past. I am so much clearer, so much more conscious and so very proud of the path I have chosen.
Problems with the traditional way of school and education
Being blessed by being born in a country where every child has the right of free education, I also have the responsibility to use all that I have learned, my common sense and my imagination to keep improving making our world a better place. And for me as a parent, the education of my child is a big part of that.
I am very grateful, that I was allowed to go to school till I was 19 years old. That boys and girls equally had the right to learn. That I didn’t had to work as a very young child to support my family to survive.
However, most of the school systems are outdated. After the war, the country needed factory workers to rebuild the country or at least that was the idea from above. Creating soldiers who listen, who repeat what they being told without questioning. Free spirits were not wanted, it was said they would create chaos. Might be interesting to think about how the country would have been rebuild with creative heads instead of obedient soldiers.
So what happens in school? In order to make a child fit into the system, it spirit must be broken. Creativity can only be allowed in a strict given frame. Children are taught to follow instructions blindly, instead of using common sense. They are being taught what to learn and when to learn. Their natural love for learning has to be killed in order to fit into most school systems.
For example, a child comes to school and is totally excited to talk about it’s favorite topic and wants to share with teacher and fellow students. The teacher has to stop that child, because there is no time for individual topics. There is a schedule to follow.
I taught in elementary schools and I taught adults in the corporate world. And yes, if you are trying to teach a specific topic, there is nothing worse then someone that is not participating and keeps trying to change the topic. It does disturb the whole class. In order to make the traditional way work, the child's spirit and interest has to be killed. The sooner the better, the easier it will be to feed the child with information that someone else believes are more important then common sense.
An other option would be, to encourage the child’s natural interest in learning. Look how much a child learns in its early years. Eating, sitting, crawling, walking, jumping, speaking, singing and so on. A child wants to learn, it’s fun, sometimes even hard or painful but it keeps trying until it masters the skill. My goal is, to foster my child’s natural love for learning to support her in her interests and most of all to allow her to use common sense.
I have chosen that the traditional way of school is not for us.
Let me give some brief definitions of different types of schooling. Keep an open mind and remember that each style gets unique with each family.
Different Schooling Approaches
A child receives home education. Either a teacher is hired or a parent teaches the child. There could be an official curriculum to follow or a parent/teacher can make the classes up as they wish.
Unschooling is an educational method and philosophy that advocates learner-chosen activities as a primary means for learning. Unschooling students learn through their natural life experiences including play, household responsibilities, personal interests and curiosity, internships and work experience, travel, books, elective classes, family, mentors, and social interaction. Unschooling encourages exploration of activities initiated by the children themselves, believing that the more personal learning is, the more meaningful, well-understood and therefore useful it is to the child. While courses may occasionally be taken, unschooling questions the usefulness of standard curricula, conventional grading methods, and other features of traditional schooling in the education of each unique child.
Radical unschooling extends the philosophy of unschooling into all aspects of life. It involves partnering with our children, not just with regard to academic pursuits, but in daily activities such as eating, television viewing, and going to bed. ... People may confuse radical unschooling with neglectful parenting.
In its simplest form, worldschooling is the combination of education and travel. ... For worldschoolers around the globe, travel is a means of education, and a tool to enhance your educational approach. And there are many different ways to worldschool.
Why I refuse to call ourselves Unschooler?
Each child is unique and if you can, the best you can do is chose the best approach according to your child interests and needs. Some kids thrive better in a traditional school system, just make sure that they are not getting completely brain washed. Some may need a structured day while others blossom best in a free environment. Then it depends on the families life circumstances and the possibilities.
One thing, I can’t stress enough “USE COMMON SENSE”. As I studied the different approaches of education and schooling I made some interesting experiences. I encountered homeschool parents who where so narrow minded, that I wished their kids would have the chance to escape their parents brainwash and could go to public school. I met radical unschool parents who thought raising a free child would mean they were not allowed to use any guidance and rules at all and ended up raising little narcissists. Once I asked in an unschool group for book advices, for my child who requested a book to teach herself reading. I was torn apart on how I could even dare to give my child a book as an unschooler. I could keep going with examples on what could go wrong. With the lack of common sense, any good idea can be complete ruined. When someone who is not using her/his brain and follows blindly no good can come out of that. An unschool parent who follows the rule of not having any rules, didn’t get the concept.
I refuse to call ourselves unschoolers. I refuse to call ourselves anything, as a label forms a cage. The closest would be worldschoolers, because there isn’t such a strict description yet. When being asked my child says “I am a free learner” and I probably would say “I am a conscious parent who supports free learning by using my god given brain and common sense paired with kindness, which is a great combination.“ Pretty long, I know. That’s why I wrote this article to answer those who are willing to listen.
What is conscious free learning?
We travel and we live in different parts on the world. We learn everyday, with every new encounter we learn something else. We learn from life, from people, from places, from experiences. Yes we, as I am learning as well. We learn as long as we live. The more I learn, the more I know that I do not know anything.
So, you teach your child?
Of course I teach my child and I also learn from my child, by listening. My child would have had her first day of school this week, but we are not ready yet for the traditional school system. She is 6 years old. She speaks two languages as her native tongue and knows the basics of two more. She is compassionate, she knows how to reflect, she learned to be resilience, how to adapt to other people, places, systems and circumstances. She makes friends wherever she goes and she knows how to respect herself by not being around people who miss treat her. She learned to be grateful for what she has, she learned to share, to give and to receive. She learned how to get back on ones feet after breaking down and she learned that nothing is as it seems. She knows basic reading, her numbers and even multiplication. Not because we study a lot, but because we learn everyday and because I protected her space, her body, mind and spirit and allow her to remember and to use common sense. So, yes, I am damn proud of us, of myself and my daughter.
But what happens when she needs to learn things you can’t teach her?
I teach by example. By being authentic. I don’t claim to be her teacher. I teach what I can and we find teachers for whatever she is interested in. I can’t play an instrument, so instead of me trying to teach something I don’t know anything about, we find a teacher who can. I show ways how to teach herself, how to research, how to find what she is looking for. Most important I let her find out what she likes and what she is interested in. I don’t want to limit her to my own knowledge, instead I allow her to find her own limitations.
Do you have rules?
Of course we have rules. Our own rules. Every family has their own rules. The difference is, that I do not want my child to follow blindly any given rule. Instead, I want her to question rules: Does that rule make sense? Will I hurt anyone including myself if I follow or disobey a certain rule? What is the reason for that certain rule? What are the consequences of following or not following a certain rule? And then, I want her to make a conscious decision.
Your child will never fit into society!
Well, the goal is not to shape a child to fit into a society the parents have chosen. The idea is to enable a child to chose to live in any society. It is very simple, if you do want to live in a certain society you have to follow those rules. What better way to learn that, then the way we live. With only 6 years on this planet she has learned to adapt but more important to listen to her inner voice and how to follow. Every person, every country, culture and every society has good and bad. The idea is to combine the best of each. And again, what better way to learn, then the way we live.
Your way of living is very untraditional
Yes, that is true. We keep expanding our comfort zone, constantly. We don’t live outside the box, we got rid of the box. We walk, where no one has walked before. Therefore we do not expect approval from others, the only approval we can seek is the one that comes from within. My goal is to live a life full of integrity and authenticity. That is the best example I can be for my child. May we inspire others to live their own truth in kindness.