Have you heard about worldschooling ( AKA world schooling) ? All the cool parents are doing it, it’s the latest buzz word in alternative education. It’s taking your kids on holiday to learn about other countries, right?
There’s a lot more to it than that, it’s a lifestyle and a whole-life commitment. It’s not something you do on weekends or school holidays, you do it all day, every day. Worldschooling is a lifestyle choice, a wonderful one, but one you can try for a short time. Try it and you may never go back. Want to find out more?
What is Worldschooling? Have you Heard of It?
Back in 2012 we decided that travelling with the kids would be a great lifestyle choice for our family and a phenomenal way for the boys to get a better education. I invented a term travelschooling.
The boys were already out of school and we were very happy with that choice, but we could see that their environment was limiting their learning.
Not much further down the road I discovered that somebody had already named what we were doing as worldschooling and that it was actually a fairly commonly used term.
So travelschooling was ditched and I started embracing worldschooling. These days everyone is jumping on the band-wagon and I don’t like the dilution of the original idea.
Worldschoolers do not go to school, sorry, non negotiable. If kids go to school they are main-stream educated, nothing different there at all, how can there be? But that said, every homeschooler is different, there is no one fixed right way to homeschool or worldschool and that is absolutely fine.
Not everyone is free to become digital nomads and make family travel their lifestyle but what you CAN do is try worldschooling. Give it a go, take your kids on a voyage of discovery and freedom on a family gap year. Even 1 year, a taste of worldscholing, could be very good for their world outlook as you strew the world before them. You may find you never want to put them back in school again.
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Unschool, Homeschool or Worldschool?
Worldschooling can be unschooling or it can be homeschooling, it really just depends on what you want to call it. We call it homeschooling, others may look at us and call us unschoolers. I really don’t care either way.
I guess now, after 6 years, we do some unschooling, some homeschooling and a whole heap of worldschooling. I think a lot of homeschoolers are that way. Methods of providing, facilitating and enhancing a child’s education change with need over time.
In Australia we tend to use homeschooling as an umbrella term to cover all methodologies, in the UK they prefer to use home education, rejecting the “schooling” term altogether. I usually stick with the term homeschooling, it’s simpler.
We do our own thing, ignore the school system, and the kids get a great education. But that education has absolutely zero involvement with school. That’s important and a whole-life commitment for however many years family and children choose that path. We are full-time, full-life homeschoolers or worldschoolers and that education is an active process, one we put a lot of effort into.
If you’re in doubt take a look at our 1 year of homeschooling highlights to see just how much learning happens, naturally, out in the wider world. One teacher commented that our style of learning was what schools try to reproduce in the classroom, and fail
For the uninitiated, here is a brief run-down of the usual terms in the alternative education world:
School-at-Home is doing what they do in school, at home. I don’t personally know anybody who does this. I think this is what homeschooling is taken to mean in the UK and why they prefer to call themselves home educators.These children will probably be fitting back into the school system at some point, maybe taking the usual exams. Many people believe that home educated children are “taught” by a parent. In reality, this rarely happens.
Unschooling is a 1970s term John Holt used, he was never happy with the term, but it stuck. He preferred the term “life”. Unschooling involves a complete rejection of the school system and trust in the children to learn through their own interests and curiosity at whatever pace they prefer. Parents and other human beings are involved as key facilitators of that learning. You can see Hannah’s post on “What is Unschooling” here.
Radical Unschooling takes the unschooling philosophy even further to include all aspects of life. Sandra Dodd came up with this term and it totally rejects any distinction between educational and non educational activities. Radical unschooling removes limits and allows children to make their own choices in all areas of life. I’m no expert, if you’d like to know more try Sandra Dodd, or Dayna Martin, prominent radical unschoolers.
Worldschooling is more difficult to define. Some class it as a type of unschooling, some children are world-schooled as they’ve been home-schooled. But whichever way you look at it, it doesn’t involve school.
Sure, travel is great for your kids personalities, outlooks and education, but taking them on a trip then putting them back in school does not make them worldschooled. Taking them around the world for a year or so is fantastic, it will be so incredibly good for them and for your family connection. But you will be trying worldschooling for a short time. When I look back at my first year, 2 years, of being a home educator, it really wasn’t that great. A year on the road probably isn’t long enough to find your educational groove which is one of the reasons I tell parents taking kids on a short trip to just do nothing about “school”.
Don’t spoil the experience, just enjoy it and learn naturally.
To me, worldschooling is home education of any sort with a good measure of travel and active learning through travel thrown in. The partners in the process, the educational facilitator ( parent) and the student have to seek out the learning in the location, it is by no means a passive absorption process.
I see no point in claiming to be a worldschooler if you send your kids to school because the ideas introduced in the classroom often ( not always) clash with the reality of this big wide world.
School kids have none of the benefits of freedom in education that home educated kids do, they won’t ever be free to learn in their own way and at their own pace. They will take the tests and sit the exams and believe that pieces of paper equal education.
I don’t want my kids in school, I don’t want them to grow up thinking like the mass end-product of the education machine, I want them to learn at source when they are ready or interested.
I want them to know that they can teach themselves just about anything because times have moved on and the internet can replace a teacher.
So for me, taking your kids on holiday does not make you a worldschooler. The learning has to come from the world and the family’s active engagement in it, not the classroom system. The parents have to facilitate education and totally shoulder the responsibility of their child’s education. It’s a big responsibility that we home-educating parents take on, and we need to be 100% committed to it, it’s not something to mess about with.
Is it Possible to Worldschool and Not Travel?
If you take the simplest definition of worldschooling that I’ve found, then of course you don’t need to travel. Worldschooling is learning from the world, we are all in the world, just some of us see more of it than others. That sounds more like a definition of unschooling than worldschooling, I think.
Eli Gerzon claims the term worldschooling as his invention. He says
“It’s when the whole world is your school, instead of school being your whole world.”
His definition seems to take travel out of the worldschooling scenario completely.
I guess it could work, but it would be a limited form of worldschooling to not see the world.
What Does Worldschooling Look Like for Us?
Wherever we are in the world we actively seek out the learning. It involves visiting temples, museums, markets, hotels, railway stations and playgrounds. It involves me, the facilitator, doing research and having knowledge and ideas to share with the kids. I won’t have every answer, no, nor would the average teacher, but we always have Google.
The worldschooling always starts before we reach a destination. We all, together, find out as much about our next country or region as we can before we get on the plane. For instance we’re heading to Scotland soon so we spent some time watching YouTube videos and finding out about Hadrian’s Wall ( as well as many other topics.). If the kids didn’t know what that wall was before we get there they’d probably be totally disinterested. Now most things we see will have some sort of “wow” factor”.
I read, I read a lot about our destinations and always have, about their history, culture, beliefs and traditions and I try to take kids to places that will introduce those ideas and spark an interest. I work very hard at worldschooling.
The regular home education is still there too, when I first took responsibility for educating my children I was, like most new homeschooling parents, very school-at-home. I thought that was what you had to do because I had no experience of any other way of learning. Every day we became more and more unschool as I saw how the learning was actually happening ( this is called de-schooling).
Before we left Australia I was happy to call myself an unschooler for a short period and totally embraced the term and the philosophy. We were, of course, worldschooling in our tropical home in Far North Queensland with the reef and the rainforest as a playground and classroom for all of us. These days I rarely use the term unschooling at all.
Over time, elements of school-at-home have crept back in because they needed to.
When we aren’t actively travelling we use workbooks and our favourite online learning programs. A new introduction to our educational arsenal has been the Minecraft Homeschool courses and the boys are getting a lot out of that.
Kids’ audio guides, tours and talks slot into our life easily and are becoming more and more important as the boys get older. At the moment we’re doing written maths and English and I’m using a science work book as a sort of check list of topics. To remind myself and to see if my 10-year-old does actually know what he would be expected to know if he were in school in the UK. This is, after all, a big experiment and I need to monitor the results. If he didn’t I would be failing him, everyone needs to know some basics.
He does, he has the same knowledge base as any child leaving a UK junior school should have. He hasn’t been taught it, he’s just picked it up. I say should, because of course, many normally educated children won’t. Too many slip through the cracks.
These workbooks are needed reassurance for me and a sneaky way to get him writing and spelling, he enjoys science like his mum and writing not so much. He’s cool with it we make it fun.
Workbooks we use include the series below, all are available online. We’ve tried many, these are our favourites. You’ll often find people suggesting that travelling kids simply keep a journal. Nice idea, but my kids would rather extract their own eyeballs with spoons than journal, so workbooks it is. Try these:
At the same time we’re still worldschooling, homeschooling and sometimes unschooling, we’re learning from London, her museums, zoos, history,diverse people, geography and culture. The kids are making new friends and seeing how British children live. The boys and I are going to Forest School for 2 hours per week because it’s fun and a good way to experience nature while meeting new people. We’re learning from the world, just as we always have, but a time will come when we feel we’ve absorbed all the learning we need to from this corner of the world. Then it will be time to move on, to find a new environment, a new set of experiences and a different culture to learn from. We’re planning our next move already.
Update: This post was written a few years ago, want to skip forward to homeschooling a 12 year old?
Maybe you’d like to know more about the homeschooling resources we use on the road, if so, click through.