Education is…

Education is not a straight, narrow path. There are many ways to educate and evolve our children in today’s world. Three weeks in Truckee, CA has been inspiring as to how this region of small towns nestled in between the Sierra Nevada mountains and the sandy shores of Lake Tahoe are making a difference in education.

Donner Lake near Truckee, California
Donner Lake near Truckee, California

Education is a varied and interesting sport. There are many ways to to approach it and there should be many ways to execute it. Meeting kids that are excited to talk about their school is refreshing. Learning about how a few moms in a small mountain town decided to research and start a charter school on their own – because ‘they wanted something different’ for their kids – is inspiring.

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In addition to a thriving spanish immersion school in King’s Beach, Truckee offers a variety of schools for this small area – including two schools designed to support home-schoolers.  Most impressively, they offer both public charter and private “Expeditionary Learning schools.” This is the first time I have learned, with great interest, about a school system within a community that is honoring the environment around them while teaching their kids about the real world – and in Truckee, parents have OPTIONS.

“Expeditionary Learning” combines grade-appropriate fundamentals with the beliefs of Kurt Hahn, the founder of Outward Bound. Hahn says “Learning happens best with emotion, challenge and support. People discover their abilities, values, passions, and responsibilities in situations that offer adventure and the unexpected.” Like our home-school, much of the learning is done outside the classroom and there is very little home-work. See more about the Sierra Expeditionary Learning School (SELS), Squaw Valley Kids Institute and Tahoe Expedition Academy

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Education requires flexibility. Travel-School is working well for our family and well for our children. Do they love every minute? Of course not! We have days when math is abhorred and grammar is ‘boring’… thank God. This is when I know our kids are normal! But when we can experience the world as a family, excel in school and life skills, basic human decency, appreciate our planet and the people within, respect all religions, ethnicities from a place of love, not fear, I know we are doing the right thing.  Bottom line is, there should be more options for families who value higher learning opportunities yet want or need a more creative academic solution.

“Education is not preparation for life; education is life itself.”             – John Dewey

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I continue to feel strongly that homeschooling is not for everyone. Meaning, not for every kid, parent or kid-parent relationship.  Also important to note that there are many public and private schools that are amazing and kids can certainly thrive in a traditional school. Remember, our reason for pulling out of the system was motivated by our need for quality family time and the prospect of traveling and learning together. But I do like to inspire thinking outside the box. “The idea of personalizing your own education is always an interesting discussion,” says education reform advocate RiShawn Biddle. If you are in a town or school system that is not working for your children or family, then think about what would be better.  And then do that thing!

If you haven’t seen it before, there is a beautiful Tedx talk by HackSchool student, Logan Laplante… who happens to be a Truckee-Kid!

Hack schooling Makes Me Happy – Logan Laplante

Education is about sharing ideas. It amazes me that we even started, over four years ago, planning this alternative school adventure. We were influenced then by the words of young Logan, calling to our better selves and here we are travel-schooling in exactly the small town where he lives.  This world of ours is minuscule and exquisite.

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If you have a few minutes, this Ted Talk will also not disappoint:  Sir Ken Robinson on Education. Both speakers helped to influence our decision to pull our kids from traditional school and start something ‘else’.

Most important to remember is that education is… about creating Citizens of the World and every single parent and teacher is on the forefront of humanity.

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Oliver’s Fall- Ball baseball team in Truckee, the California ROCKIES. Dedicated coaches and a great group of kids made for an A+ baseball experience for Oliver. 

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First snow of the season fell the night we arrived in Truckee. Our travel-school home for the time here was located 7,000 feet above sea-level and brilliantly cut into the side of a ski resort. The mountain views and hiking were spectacular – which added a new and exciting element to daily recess.

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On one-size-fits-all schooling, “Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing it is stupid.”

– Albert Einstein

 

*Donner Lake photo courtesy of the internet.  John Dewey and Einstein quotes from: www.brainyquote.com. Rihsawn Biddle quote from http://www.outsideonline.com. 

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