Before my son was born, I had no idea what Worldschooling was. I knew parents who home-educated their children, but I didn’t know anyone who traveled while doing that.
Of course, I also had no concept of people who traveled the world full-time, either. Or parents who would do such a thing with their children in tow, learning on-the-go. Never in a million years did I ever imagine I would become that parent. It’s marvelously liberating! Let me tell you a bit about Wordschooling, and why you might want to consider it, too.
What is Worldschooling?
The word Worldschooling was first introduced by unschooler Eli Gerzon, who sought a more positive term for his vision of an educational journey on which anyone of any age could embark. Essentially, Worldschooling is learning from everyone and everything around you, wherever you are in the world. That’s a pretty big classroom!
Because its definition is so broad, Worldschooling can look very different from one person to the next and from one family to another. It can include attendance in a traditional school setting, or not. It could follow a predetermined curriculum, or it might be more learner-directed and fluid. It could happen in a single town or city in a single country, or it could quite literally circle the globe.
I’d like to share a few snippets from my family’s Worldschooling journey to illustrate some of the benefits of this non-traditional method of education and some reasons why we recommend it.
Worldschooling Can Take Your Learning in Unexpected Directions
My husband and I were both educators before we became parents. We moved from the States to Central Japan, where he’d been recruited to teach English with the largest language school in the country. I was a certified Montessori teacher, with fifteen years of experience in a variety of educational settings. We’d always planned to educate our offspring outside of the public school setting in which we’d met. We never imagined it would begin so far from ‘home’, or just how radically non-traditional our journey would get.
By the time our son was born in Japan in 2010, we had already decided that we’d need to create the educational environment in which we wanted to raise him. After four years of teaching in public and private Japanese schools, we’d come to the realization that those institutions simply did not share our family’s values and priorities. I’d been teaching privately in and around our community and was approached by three local business owners about possible partnerships. We’d often spoken about opening our own school but didn’t think it would happen outside our passport country, or while we were rearing an infant. We opened the doors to The International Academy of Matsumoto when our son was just four months old.
After owning and operating our school for six years, I was offered the opportunity to attend an exclusive three-month program for food professionals in Italy. We decided it was too incredible to pass up. So we sold everything and left Asia for Europe, not yet realizing this was just the first in a series of unbelievable educational experiences we would share with our young son.
Worldschooling Supports and Encourages Diversity in Our Learning
As trained Montessorians, we’ve worked to encourage self-directed learning ever since our son was born. Worldschooling gave us a chance to build a community of alternative learners in our community in Japan. It was also the springboard for us to tackle heritage schooling, unschooling, and our own personal biases and hangups regarding educational expectations for our child and ourselves.
Exposure to People of All Ages and From All Walks of Life
In most traditional school settings today, students are grouped in single-year age brackets. Montessori programs utilize three- to six-year groupings, so this was a more familiar, family-style model to which our son was already accustomed. Now that we’re moving from one country to the next, he literally has access to learning from a broader variety of people than he could ever reach in a brick-and-mortar building.
Multilingual and Multicultural
We’ve gone from Japanese to Italian (and a few others) as community languages, usually speaking English among ourselves at home. We regularly attend festivals and local celebrations, as well as classes and community activities wherever we travel.
Worldschooling Embraces All Learning Styles
Attending story time in a local library, or reading as a family at home, books are something we consider an essential part of our family’s educational journey. Hearing and communicating with friends and neighbors in a non-native language on a daily basis encourages us to broaden our perspectives, as well as our vocabularies.
From milking cows and beating drums to snorkeling and playing football in the streets, from full-body interactive gaming to horseback riding, our son has had countless opportunities to learn indoors and out, while moving and shaking all of his limbs – much to his heart’s delight!
Going shopping and counting out the local currency, attending a class in the local language, playing with friends in the streets: all of these experiences provide a contextual framework in which learning is much more meaningful and memorable.
Worldschooling Can Bring Subjects to Life
Living Lessons Inspire More Learning
Who could pass up the chance to see Big Ben, or the Duomo? To watch an eclipse or to stand in the crashing waves of the ocean? To dance in a street parade or to pick fresh fruits and vegetables from the garden? All of these experiences encouraged us to ask why, how, and to dig deeper to learn more because we remained actively engaged in the activities from start to finish.
The best Spanish classes we ever had came from six months of interacting with our friends and neighbors while living in Mexico. Likewise, the best pasta-making experience was preparing and eating our own dinner from fresh, local ingredients foraged in the Tuscan hills with other Worldschoolers who had gathered for just that purpose.
Whether it’s geography and financial planning to compare real estate investments around the globe, or the miracles of math and chemistry in the kitchen, the possibilities for reinforcing learning across a broad range of subjects is only limited by our interests and imaginations.
Worldschooling Resources Are Infinite
Every single person we encounter in our travels is someone from whom we can learn, as well as someone we might teach to reinforce our own learning.
Reading instructions and navigating new appliances in our homes or going out into the community to shop for groceries or buy a new pair of shoes, every daily experience is a learning opportunity.
Shops and parks, libraries, galleries and museums, local schools and community centers, even nature itself is always a place to learn and explore and discover something new!
Worldschooling Works For Our Family
Right now, our family has been traveling the globe full time for a year-and-a-half. We have lived in eight different countries on four continents, and in five different languages. Our digital nomad existence affords us the opportunity to curate our curiosity and pursue our passions anywhere we can maintain a strong and steady internet connection.
We are currently excited by the prospect of exploring more of Europe over the next few months. We recently arrived back in Italy, and have been living in an eight-hundred-year-old Tuscan castle. There’s so much for all of us to learn and discover: refreshing our Italian language skills; immersing ourselves in the history and geography, art and architecture of the region; and, of course, digging into the local food culture. The multisensory experience provided by preparing Tuscan cuisine is what thrills me most of all!
Could Worldschooling Be Beneficial For You and Your Family, Too?
Your version of Worldschooling will look different from ours. How? That is for you to discover! Are you up for the challenge? You have nothing to lose by taking a peek. And you have the whole world to gain in the process!