School of Life?

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by Jen

“Spoon feeding in the long run teaches us nothing but the shape of the spoon.” EM Forster. (The Passage to India bloke)

To be honest I am finding home/campervan schooling quite hard. The responsibility of getting the right balance between the freedom of travelling and getting an “acceptable” education is not easy. By acceptable education I mean one where our kids can choose to opt back into the “system”, be up to speed with the curriculum, and get some sort of certificate if they need one. My view for what it’s worth is that there’s a lot more to life than passing exams. But that I suppose depends upon what you want to do and it just is how it is in the world. Says she who was a (very happy) legally qualified goat milker.

We are holding open the door, back into the “system”, but trying also to open the door to the kids finding out about what is useful and interesting for them.

Adam and I had a bit of a clash yesterday – there was a thunder and lightening storm on the island, and the question came up “does lightening hit the sea and if it does what happens to the fish or a boat or a person near the strike?”

When I “made” the boys go away and find out rather than brushing away the question without an answer, Adam’s response was “I did my geography today, [from the school course book] that’s my work, not lightning bolts”. Is that laziness which needs addressing, a crazy thing to ask them to do, or the product of the school learning system for 10 years? Or maybe it was just Matt who asked.


The geography was how the sea affects commerce (80% of the world’s population live within 100km of the sea). Nothing wrong with learning about that, learning about anything really, although maybe a bit less useful if you are paddling in the sea in a storm?


There is undoubtedly the added “challenge” of teaching your own offspring. And the challenge of teenage hormones. And on the other side the giddying freedom and adjustment to jumping from one way of learning to another. You will learn if you want to learn, and I have no doubt that much is being sucked into these young brains without us even noticing.

Katie is far more eager to learn about the things she comes across on the road, today about sharks and how close they might live to Ko Samui. Handy.


I do appreciate that there are many more things that travelling has given us, not least the extra time together. Maybe I am worrying too much. Tomorrow is another day.

Here’s another travel blog which was quite reassuring.

Ten Things Children Learn About Life While Traveling


Adam’s take on this:

I think that homeschooling is good, it’s not too difficult and I’m in contact with my school friends to see at what stage they are, and I try to follow them. If I’m stuck I either ask them or have a look on the internet.
So if I stay at the same stage as the people at school then I think I’ll have no problem joining the class next year.
We learn a lot of things on the trip that we wouldn’t learn at school but we have to learn certain things for school that could be of no interest to us but we have to learn.
I think that since I’m at the same stage as everybody else I think that I’m doing enough.

And finally, Katie’s got some information about sharks:

By Katie


There are about 20,000 kinds of sharks eg Cookie cutter shark, great white shark, bull shark, whale shark, the zebra shark… My favourite is the Cookie cutter shark because of the name, it makes me hungry. They are called cookie cutter sharks because of the round nasty bite they can give. They live 2 miles under the sea and come up to the surface at night to nibble other sea creatures. Here is a picture of one.


There are a few sharks in the water around Ko Samui but they are not dangerous to humans eg the whale shark and the bull shark. Bull sharks only attack if you annoy them. Whale sharks only eat plankton so do not be afraid.


The mother shark goes away from all the other sharks before she gives birth then once the baby or babies are born they can swim away from their mum. The babies look after themselves. Some sharks like the whale shark lay eggs and other sharks don’t – they have live babies. Sharks can live from 20 to 30 years. Some baby sharks are not so lucky because they can be eaten by other adult sharks.

Sharks can survive without food for 6 weeks and they eat fish, other sharks, plankton and squid. Tiger sharks and white sharks eat everything but very rarely humans.

Sharks have up to 50,000 teeth in their life. They have 5 to 15 rows of teeth. Some teeth only last a week because they have no roots holding them in. When their tooth falls out another replacement tooth pops up. It is a bit like a vending machine because it springs forward.


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6 Replies to “School of Life?”

  1. Very interesting to read your thoughts about schooling the kids on the road and away from the typical school system. While not traveling like you, I think we even ask ourselves many of the same questions on a regular basis. Wish we could actually get away from the typical school for a little while and rediscover the fun of learning, which isn’t really there for either boy. Grades, whether good or bad, don’t motivate them. The fire, as they say, hasn’t really been lit yet, often the drive is missing, but I really can’t blame them very much. Thanks for the good thoughts!

    1. Hi Alexandra. A lot of the stuff I got at school was boring, hasn’t been needed to this day or was unappreciated by the naive me. Its only this week I am reading Brave New World and I wrote an exam essay on it at school – after reading the beginning, end, and back cover :(. We live in such exciting times with all this information at our fingertips. Sometimes too much! Just how do we best match a child’s natural desire to learn with what we have around us. J x

  2. Hi Jen stop worrying! Your kids are learning so much more about life and people all round the world which they wouldn’t learn stuck in a classroom every school day!!! They are smart cookies and will catch up no probs when they go back in to the system. Just think on all the useless information we were taught !!! Love AJ x

    1. Love you 🙂 xx. The most useful thing I remember learning was that you can kill a baby – ODing on vitamin A – if you feed them too many carrots. I’ve not done that once in the 15 years I’ve had children.

  3. After reading your blog I started thinking about home schooling and travelling. I would love to do it. The time goes so quickly and it must be so nice spending real time as a family. That’s what I love about my camper van and camping, real family time, though we haven’t gone very far away from home yet. My husband might be the one to convince though.

    1. Hello 🙂 Thanks for taking the time to read our blog. It’s been a pretty amazing adventure. Very special memories.

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