We get that question a lot. After all, education is one of the most important things in our lives, as kids. And as full-time travelers, attending a traditional school is impossible. So how do we do it?
First of all, I should tell you that I’ve never actually been to school as most kids know it. My Mom is a teacher, and by the time I came into existence she was certain that she didn’t want to put me into the public school system. We weren’t full-time travelers at that point. I was and so until I was eleven I did all of my school at a desk in our basement along with my three brothers. We’ve always been homeschoolers.
Did we start unschooling when we hit the road?
Nope. I get a lot of questions about unschooling as well, but we’ve honestly never been unschoolers in the strictest sense of the word. My parents believe that having a structured education is a good thing, to a certain degree. I’ve taken real, high school level classes, including pre-calculus, astronomy (not to be confused with astrology, though a few hippies have taught me a bit about that as well), geology, biology and anatomy, to name a few. And yes, I’ve taken these classes with me on the road. Thanks to the modern technology I have access to, I can do most of my schoolwork on a computer. I’m extremely grateful for that, let me tell you. After seeing just how big and heavy the typical textbook on advanced Algebra is, I have no desire to lug one around in my backpack!
Can you do high school on the road?
YES! It’s really not that hard! There are quite a few families who do it! There are hundreds, if not thousands of fantastic online educational resources for teens. You can get real credit for real courses, sometimes for free or very cheaply. Coursera is fantastic for this! An upside to doing high school this way is that you can learn at your own pace, and do it from anywhere in the world on your own time! This is true for any student, not just travelers. Learning this way let me finish all the required high school courses a few years early, which left me with plenty of time to pursue my own interests and accrue plenty of credits. Currently I’m a student at Oregon State University, where I’m participating in long-distance courses as I travel the world.
So, to recap, no I am not an unschooler; yes, I have a structured set of classes; and no, high school hasn’t been difficult simply because I’ve taken it on the road. In fact, I believe that traveling during my teen years has taught me more than any set of pre-determined classes could! It’s fed my love for adventure, prevented me from feeling cooped up and frustrated like so many other teens, and let me draw my own conclusions about the world around me and those in it. Unhindered by the drama that seems to go along with being in a traditional high school, I can focus on the beauty, the conflicts, the joys and the sorrows of all cultures, not just my own. Could a “normal” education have taught me to see the world from a different perspective? Perhaps. But through travel, not only has my intellectual education not suffered, I’ve also been able to have a hundred or more experiences outside of a school environment!