As soon we sold our house, our next challenge was to solve how our kids’ education would be outside of school. So, we dug into the research and learned about the possibilities. First, we discovered that many nomads opt for homeschooling, which means roughly using a school curriculum at home. Then we heard about Unschooling, which lets the child decide when and how they want to learn. As the proponents of the method say, it is to respect children as responsible for their choices earlier in life.
My first reaction to Unschooling was, “too extreme, not for me!” and “If it worked, I would have heard about it before”, “It can work with other people’s children, not mine”. So, we ignored this option and looked further into the homeschooling one. But in our research on what life as a nomad would be like, we met some families adopting Unschooling and began to see how fascinating these kids seemed to be. They had something different that intrigued me, a distinct sparkle in their eyes when they talked about what they were studying. They spoke of what they were doing with excitement and joy – something I didn’t see in my kids or other kids around me. And they weren’t shy about talking about topics of interest to adults either, they asked questions, and they explained things. Even though I was full of insecurity and uncertainty, I decided to read more about something that seemed so absurd but that left me intrigued. And the more I read and researched, the more I wanted to learn about the topic.
The first thing that struck me was learning that our traditional education model is a pretty recent invention. It was imported from Prussia less than a century ago, when prominent industrialists, such as Henry Ford and John D. Rockefeller, hired the Stanford Dean Ellwood P. Cubberley to develop an educational system that, in the words of Professor John Taylor Gatto, would produce “mediocre intellects… to ensure docile citizens”. The system’s goal was to create obedient employees. Cubberley himself wrote at the time that “Our schools are… factories in which the raw products (children) are to be shaped and fashioned…”. All according to the intention of the industrialists who would later hire the masses of obedient employees.
The intention was to design a model of education where the most important lesson was submission to authority and memorizing pre-selected facts, rules, and instructions. Factories needed employees, and good employees were the ones who could memorize orders and obey them diligently. That’s why today, every child who obeys the teachers and memorizes their lessons is considered a successful student.