Worldschooling and the Trail of Charles Cannon

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If you are baffled by the terms homeschooling, unschooling and roadschooling, be prepared to be perplexed by yet another head-scratching term – worldschooling.  I interviewed Sachi through Facebook about being homeschooled and she shared this link about worldschoolers.

So to my friend, Jen and fellow homeschooling moms, here are ideas to make our heads spin even more:

  • School: “Do what you’re told.” 
  • Homeschool: “Do what you’re told… by your mom.”
  • Unschool: “Do what you want.”
  • Worldschool: “Do what ya gotta do…”
  • School – Trust school, government, and institutions
  • Homeschool – Trust your family, friends, and community…
  • Unschool – Trust yourself, your child, and the individual.
  • Worldschool – Trust the world and the universe.
  • School teaches there are few possibilities for you.
  • Unschooling teaches there are infinite possibilities.
  • Worldschooling teaches you which are truly for you.

As a newly minted homeschooling mom, there are days when I doubt what I’m doing.  A sense of anxiety creeps up the back door and hits me on the head with desperation.  I don’t know whether I’m doing what’s “right” for my kids.  But then I hit my stride the next day with the promise that things are getting better. My husband and I keep improving our methods and styles.  We continue to discover ways and resources while our kids are doing the same.  We are all learning together and we are each other’s teacher.  We are all students of the world and our classroom is boundless.

Even though I accept this in theory and know I should not be pressured, I can’t shake off the angst.  I want my kids to read and do math so I homeschool in the morning, telling them what to do because mom says so and it’s important to follow the program online. Why?  Because I said so.  I watch Joshua like a hawk making sure he progresses through the language arts and math exercises.  In the afternoon, I let go of the shackles and unschool.  There is something in me that totally does not want to let go of the curriculum although I have read many times that the child should be the curriculum.  It’s me balancing the expectations of society for children to achieve certain milestones while being relaxed about the whole thing so as not to pass on unnecessary apprehension to the kids.  I still have a long way to grow in terms of trusting and chilling.  Though I advocate self-directed education, there’s quite a way for me to go before I wholly embrace that route in practice.

Today, however was a revelation.  If we could have more days like these, then I’d certainly become more at ease moving towards worldschooling.  We went on a quest to the Xishuangbanna Tropical Botanical Garden searching for Charles “Chuck” Cannon.  Some weeks ago while researching about homeschoolers in China, I read an article, A Garden Like Eden about a group of foreign research fellows who gathered and taught their children together.  I was determined to find them even if upon arriving at the 1,100 hectare botanical garden, we did not know where to start and had no contact information except for a name.  We had to be creative and persistent until we were dropped off at the research center where we found out that Charles had left Xishuangbanna two years ago and had gone back to America.

Here’s when being a Filipino proved once again its perks with kababayans located everywhere.  A Filipina post-graduate student focused on bats and doing a report on orchids, introduced me to another Filipino who is into ecological conservation and who happened to be a student of Chuck Cannon!   So there is always a way if there is a will to hack through the thick undergrowth of resistance.  Before and after fortunately running into my fellow Pinoys, I encountered some unfriendly staff who made me feel unwelcome like I didn’t have the right to be there in the research facility.  Tourists should stick only to their portion of the premises, an armed guard alluded.

The ultimate revelation of the day went beyond finding a way to contact Cannon.  It was the amazing magnificence of the garden itself that surpassed my expectations of a Chinese tourist spot since it was clean and well-maintained more than usual.   All around, beauty lived and was cared for by obviously passionate and expert hands.  Every so often, we’d simply sit and marvel, awed by the surroundings, stretching our time in Eden.

Last Word:

After reading this blog, my friend, Jen said: “I think in the end we should not label ourselves anymore. What matters is the motivation behind why we chose to not put our kids in a conventional school. Each family will have a different way of approaching this “alternative” education and most will probably call themselves “eclectic” (Waaaahhh, another label!). And as for your anxiety about your children meeting “standards” versus your great attraction to democratic learning and unschooling, I think in time you will find a perfect balance. Whenever I am tempted to rush and want to cram knowledge into Stella, I try to think (that’s if I REMEMBER TO THINK) if what we are doing will contribute to our goal of cultivating a LOVE OF LEARNING in her. That’s what I want to build on. Plus of course, having a good view of God and growing her love for Him. But I’m sure in time you will find balance.”

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