Jill from the SY Mollymawk just published her second article about home – or rather on-bord schooling titeled ‘The results of the home-school experiment’. First, I’d like to thank Jill for taking time to write such insightful articles but instead of plain interest for us the importance is actually a different one. Although we may sail another ocean, we’re in the same boat when it comes to schooling our kids.
Of course we read books, articles and it’s one of the most prominent discussion topics amongst cruising families. But there still is a lack of confidence. This probably is rooted deep in our upbringing – both my wife Guillermina and me went through a formal education of european style. I didn’t like it much whereas my wife enjoyed it. And while I choose a life of labor, my wife’s thing was an academic career. But both we liked the ideas and concepts layed out in our favourite book about schooling: ‘Learning all the time’ by John Holt.
But just being fond of that concept doesn’t create a school environment nor does it teach your kids the essential skills needed for life and self-education. While the only decision 99% of all parents we know at home have is whether it’s gonna be a public or private school, we face the endless insecurity of whether we do it right and if it was a good decision after all. Choosing the life on sea and teaching the kids on our own is difficult, sometimes hard work and not always very satisfying. Although it can be. While Viola, aged five keeps asking for reading lessons and wants to write stories, learn Guitar, etc. Bruno seems to lose interest after a few minutes. But then there are these other moments too. A few days ago, we sat in the Government building in Levuka, Fiji. Bruno sees a picture of all the ministers and wants to know exactly what they do, how they come to be in charge and even has suggestions to improve the situation. And while we wait for nearly two hours to get our cruising permit – instead of nagging and jumping around in his seat, we train mathematics and calculate how far a human could count if it were the only thing he was doing in his life. Through the window we watch toads trying to escape the blazing sun as the lawn is being cut and Bruno, aged seven, tries to understand why the toads won’t just go straight for the shadow to their right. We end up in a discussion about genes, brain sizes, adaptation, the moisture of the skin, the usual habitat of those reptiles, the difference between toads and frogs, etc. Yes – this is ‘doing school’ for us and that is what both we and our kids enjoy. – It doesn’t always have to involve book, desks and pens. But it has to be an enjoyable way of learning things.
Thanks to the crew of the Mollymawk we are once more ensured that we’re doing the right thing and that (given the right circumstances) it will work out well for our kids – independent of what their later plans for life will be.
Also when you’re at it, don’t miss out on the amazing books Jill wrote. Highly recommended !!