Editor’s Note: The following is a reprint of a presentation I prepared for academic purposes.
The existing industrial education complex is failing many of our kids, producing factory drones and not the creative types needed for the new industrial revolution.
As a parent, I am devoted to raising children who are ready to take on the world as it will be when they arrive in it as adults. With this in mind, I wanted more for them than our local public schools had to offer. After a great deal of research and experimentation, my wife and I have chosen to focus on the educational philosophy known as worldschooling, a method that creates lifelong, creative learners ready to lead the world, using experience and the world as their classroom.
I am going to share four main areas with you today. Firstly, what is worldschooling? Why do my wife and I believe worldschooling is the best option for our family? How does worldschooling help you raise confident, competent children? And finally, I am going to share with you how a family can get started worldschooling.
So what is worldschooling?
“Tell me and I forget; show me and I remember; involve me and I understand.”
Wise words which are at the root of what worldschooling is, and how it works. A form of homeschooling in that children do not attend traditional public or private schools, worldschooling is utilizing the world as your classroom.
You have likely heard of immersion as a method for learning languages. Studies on language immersion have shown that, over time, adults who learned through immersion continue to process a language the way a native speaker does, even when the skill goes unused (Bhanoo’s How Immersion Helps to Learn a New Language of 2012).
Students learn more when they participate in the process of learning, whether it’s through discussion, practice, review, or application (Grunert’s The course syllabus: A learning-centered approach of 1997).
Worldschooling takes these basic philosophies, and expand on them. In our worldschooling process, we learn everything through immersion – geography, weather, history, science, even math. Learning happens just about everywhere and anytime, with basically unlimited opportunity to learn from the things you see and do.
Worldschooling is tactile, involving the student in their own learning. How would you prefer to learn about Roman history – while sitting in a classroom reading from a textbook and listening to a teacher lecture, or sitting on the steps of ancient Roman ruins?
How would you prefer to study Spain? By actually being there and spending time in the country, students have the opportunity to be involved in the people and the language, to touch the art, to explore the geography and witness the history. When children are active and engaged, they are learning. When they are not, they are less likely to retain information.
Worldschooling is more than just educating through travel. It is a holistic approach, with the belief that we never stop learning. To put it simply, we learn from the world. If you apply the research on immersion beyond language, you can see that information learned in this way will “stick” in a way that information learned in other formats may not. I know that I personally remember a lot more about a place I have been or a thing I have done than I retain data I learned solely for the purpose of taking a test and didn’t have the opportunity to apply.
Why do my wife and I believe in worldschooling as the best option for our family?
Here’s another quote for you, this one from Mark Twain. “Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts. Broad, wholesome, charitable views of men and things cannot be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the earth all one’s lifetime.”
We feel worldschooling offers our daughter, now 8, the opportunity to become a well-rounded individual who can really apply her knowledge. She can answer questions like, “What do you think?” in conversations on just about any topic, has opinions on politics, and loves to analyze art. She is open-minded in ways that can only be taught by example, and counts among her friends people from literally every corner of the world. Some of these are things we dreamed of for her, and some are happy accidents. As the saying goes, “When you know better, you do better!”
We also see worldschooling as an opportunity to raise children who can always be stretching and growing to meet an ever-changing workforce. The modern workforce needs creative people, able to solve problems and participate in a self-learning model, constantly expanding to work with rapidly changing technology. These are important traits we felt would help our daughter to be most successful.
In addition, we see it as giving her an advantage intellectually, and we are not alone. In an article for Business Insider, Innovation Reporter Chris Weller wrote, “Ivy League universities want students who excel outside the classroom and demonstrate mastery of science, math and history.” This is where worldschoolers shine, by being balanced in their education. Weller argues that through what he calls “progressive homeschooling,” students become experienced in personalized education, following their interests and talents, making them more attractive to Ivy League schools. (Weller’s There’s a new path to Harvard and it’s not the classroom of 2015)
How does worldschooling help you raise confident, competent children?
The stereotype that homeschooled children are weird and unsocialized is alive and well, so many people are surprised to meet children who are worldschooled and discover how social they really are. Kids who have had to navigate airports, foreign languages, and finding ways to learn from their environment have no choice but to learn communication skills. They are also great at making new friends, because they have lots of experience at it!
Advantages go beyond the social, as well. Studies have shown that homeschooled students are achieving academically at and above the level of their peers in public school.
According to a study by Brian D. Ray, PhD of the National Home Education Research Institute, “Homeschoolers are still achieving well beyond their public school counterparts – no matter what their family background, socioeconomic level, or style of homeschooling….homeschooled boys and girls scored equally well”, in the 87th and 88th percentile respectively. In the study, homeschoolers scored 34–39 percentile points higher than the norm on standardized achievement tests. (Ray’s Homeschool Progress Report 2009)
How can a family get started?
Traditional project management methodology assumes the project members know the regulatory standards (Rincon’s My project should be compliant: what do I do now? of 2010), therefore your first step is to research the homeschooling regulations in your home state or country. Each state in the U.S. has slightly different regulations, such as registration with the local school district. Familiarize yourself with how it works where you live.
Second, understand that not everyone who worldschools has the opportunity to travel extensively. There is so much learning from the world that can happen right in your own state, your own town, your own neighborhood. So start there. Pay attention to what interests your child, and help them to find ways to do projects and deep study of those things. Seek out opportunities for hands-on learning in the everyday. As a worldschooling parent, it is your job to inspire your child and help them to find resources.
With that said, booking a ticket and heading out into the world is also a great way to get started! Jumping in to the deep end is always an option.
Third, seek out community. This is a huge piece of being successful as a worldschooler, and can be achieved quite simply through a search of Google and Facebook. Join some groups, follow some blogs, and get a feel for the people making this choice for their families. Every person is different, but keep at it until you find the people who are the best fit for you, because their support will mean a world of difference as you get started.
Today we have discussed what worldschooling is, why our family chose it, and how you can get started. We also addressed how worldschooling can help you to raise confident, competent children.
In closing, the evidence has shown that worldschooling is a viable and exciting option for families, with the potential to create lifelong learners who are achieving above-average test scores and attracting top colleges and employers.
Bhanoo, S. (2012), How Immersion Helps to Learn a New Language. Retrieved from: http://www.nytimes.com/2012/04/03/science/how-immersion-helps-to-learn-a-new-language.html
Grunert, Judith (1997), The course syllabus: A learning-centered approach. Bolton, MA: Anker Publishing Co, Inc.
Ray, Brian D. (2009), Homeschool Progress Report 2009 (Salem, OR: NHERI, 2009)
Redford, J., Battle, D., and Bielick, S. (2016). Homeschooling in the United States: 2012 (NCES 2016-096). National Center for Education Statistics, Institute of Education Sciences, U.S. Department of Education. Washington, DC.
Rincon, I. D. (2010). My project should be compliant: what do I do now? Paper presented at PMI® Global Congress 2010—North America, Washington, DC. Newtown Square, PA: Project Management Institute.
Romanoswski, M. H. (2006). Revisiting the common myths about homeschooling. Center for Teacher Education, 79(3), 125-129
Weller, C. (2015), There’s a new path to Harvard and it’s not the classroom. Retrieved from: http://www.businessinsider.com/homeschooling-is-the-new-path-to-harvard-2015-9