World Learning Report Card

World Learning Report Card
January 15, 2013 Lainie Liberti

Travel Supports Natural Learning

As an unschooling parent, my role in Miro’s education is that as the supporter and the facilitator. Although he learns through me as an example, I am not his formal “teacher”. Miro has empowered himself to take responsibility for his own education, which is consistent with the principles of unschooling. But another important contributor to Miro’s education has become our chosen lifestyle. Travel has become the silent partner in Miro’s learning, and each day in the world our lives present unique opportunities to learn naturally. This article is written in acknowledgement that the world that has become our classroom.

(For more about Miro’s self-directed pursuits, please take a look at his column here, called “Miro Unedited”.)

Agriculture

As a result of Miro’s questioning the food chain as we shop in a farmers markets throught Latin Ameirca, he began to ask questions.

Farmers market in Antigua, Gautemala

“Are the people selling the food the farmers? Are their farms close? How do they grow so many different kinds of vegetables?”

Through his questioning, we sought out the opportunity to visit a local community farm and talk with the caretakers. Afterwards, Miro learned to harvest seeds and plant his own garden.

Language

Miro has become fluent in Spanish without ever taking a class. Natural learning is at play, but picking up a language does require an element of involvement. (I’m still impressed, as I practice daily rolling my tongue and learning new vocabulary with much struggle.)

Miro exploring Copan Ruins in Honduras wearing a cape.

Archeology

We’ve traversed over 20 separate ruins, explored over 30 ancient cultures, and studied the history of each of the countries we’ve traveled to. Not because anyone told us to do so, but because it was interesting and knowing these things helped us with our cultural sensitivity and understanding. And because it’s fascinating! (Read about my adult unschooling through archeology.)

Fire Ceremony in Guatemala

Mysticism

Each culture has it’s own set of beliefs. We’ve been to fire ceremonies in Tikal, blessings for Pacha Mamma (mother earth) in Peru, visited Maximón, the smoking and drinking saint of the town of Santiago on Lake Atitlan in Guatemala. We’ve experienced colorful processions for Semana Santa, stood in reverence of the statue of the Black Christ and danced in the jungle. We’ve participated in guided meditations, witnessed sacred plants, and practiced healing with curanderas. We’ve laughed together in an Osho meditation, witnessed a reenactment of Inca ceremony and explored ideas together that include other worldly possibilities (Momma’s obsession with “aliens”). Through all of it, Miro has remained open and has experienced more first hand and has expanded his relationship to his own spirituality.

Worshipers during Semana Santa

Geography

Learning through traveling, Miro has learned world geography. It’s experiential learning, that does not come through studying, rather through experience. Miro knows where countries, capitals and cities are because we’ve been there. He also knows much more about countries he’d like to visit, because he’s taken it upon himself to research what could be next.

History

History comes alive, when you are standing in a remarkable place, different than your own world. As a child, history was taught to me out of a book and my teachers had the highest hopes that this information would stick. But it didn’t and as a child, I had no interest in anything other than my small world and had no idea how I related to the things around me.

But through our travels, Miro has a totally different relationship to history. He is living history, experiencing places, stories and meeting people “history” effects.

Cemetery in Nicaragua during Day of the Dead.

Cemetery in Nicaragua during Day of the Dead.

One hot November afternoon, we walked through a Nicaraguan cemetery with a friend who came from a long line of Sandinistas and seeing the graves of her relatives. Yeah, it relates to us deeply, and we become part of the same human story. And with that, there are so many more examples over the last three years, too numerous to count.

Politics

For us, Latin America came alive through exploring history and politics. Miro is forever asking “why?”

“Why did that happen?”
“Why did they do that?”
“Why?”

From the American involvement, to the political coups, from imperialism and to people’s uprising. From social movements, to oppression. We’ve travel through many countries influenced by political ideals of Che Guevara and Simón Bolívar. We’ve personally seen the effects of war, atrocities, violence and crime. We can’t help but to continue to ask “why” and try to understand the politics surrounding these influences.

Statue for Simon Bolivar in Santa Marta, Colombia

Economics

Miro and I have always approached our travels as a partnership. That includes everything aspect of financial decision making, making monthly budgets and of course our spending decisions. That’s our personal finances, in relationship to real world economics. Understanding the value of what we have, and experiencing what our money buys through exchanged currencies is a lesson in economics. Not to mention exchange rate fluctuations and budgeting.

Leadership

I’ve had the opportunity to see “leadership” in action. On our travels, we’ve come across many kids, and been involved with many volunteer programs. We’ve interacted with many children from different cultures and each time, I have witnessed my son encourage these kids to peruse their interests and figure out what their dreams are. Most of the children we come across have never even considered that their interests were important, let alone been asked their opinion before. This simple inquiry just might have a lasting effect on another child’s life. It’s an inspiring process to witness and in my opinion, that’s taking on a leadership role.

Miro reading to children as a volunteer in Ecuador

Global Citizenship

Traveling has taught first hand that although people from around the world may have outwardly differences, every person we’ve ever met has the basic desires: eat,  love, make a living, play, make a difference and try as hard as they can to live a good life. Travel has taught Miro to see the similarities, not focus on the differences. We are all global citizens.

Ecology and the Planet

Hikes through misty cloud forests, climbing volcanos,  high altitude mountain walks, wondering through low land nature mangroves ,  exploring caves, basking in the sandy beaches, adventuring in the Amazon jungle and swimming with sharks are part of Miro’s travel experience. This is the ecology and the planet in action, not some concept in a book. Miro’s experienced it first hand and for sure his relationship to the planet has changed.

Miro in the Los Nevados mountains

 

Miro learning how to weave in Peru

Miro learning how to weave in Peru

Art, Creativity, Crafts and Traditions

Artisans have been a part of the cultural experience from day one. From the exquisite weavings, to brightly colored traditional clothing, to jewelry, pottery and painting. Most of these traditions within Latin America have deep ties to cultural identities and many of the practices from hundreds of years are still practiced today. Miro has learned to weave, watched traditional dance, and can not help to have been deeply influenced by the sights and sounds of the artisan traditions experienced on our travels.

Dancers in Panama

When traveling, learning happens every day. Even if you don’t look for it, it happens.

5 Comments

  1. Angela 7 years ago

    I just want to stay that I think you are doing an amazing job and you are giving Miro the best youth any one could ever wish for!
    It’s inspiring to see someone doing something completely different and awesome!

  2. Dawn 7 years ago

    I love your pictures!

    We moved to Spain from Denmark a year ago, and I’ve seen much of the same process: My Lucas has learned two new languages in this year (English and Spanish), he has learned how to swim – simply because we go to the pool every day through July and August. We talk about differences in culture, landscape, food and history. Travelling is truly living!

  3. Maribel valdez 7 years ago

    I admire what you are doing for your son. I wish I had the guts to pull the cord and do it for my daughter as well. She was home schooled for a year, last year. I was hoping to have the time and finances to possibly add to her life even in a smaller scale what you have to your sons. Unfortunately I was not prepared and now she is back to public school. Her 1st grade teacher once said to me,”Jada is very smart she is different stay on it, don’t let her fall between the cracks”. Sometimes I am afraid I don’t do enough.

    Again Miro is very lucky to have you as you are to have him. Congratulation…oh and I love the pictures you post. BeaUtiful!!

  4. michael 7 years ago

    Okay, I am still stuck on what Miro hopes to do with his life. We as Americans are brought up to think that you must get a formal education or you can plan on never having any decent life for yourself. I always thought this meant getting a good job but I also know it means having a solid foundation of learning to do anything in your life.

    I have been traveling with my son for the past year in eastern Europe and he is not doing well with the home schooling program and in 8th grade I would have another 4 years of this.

    At this point I am tempted to follow your lead and just let him learn from life. But as his father I feel like i have to do everything I can to keep pushing him to finish school.

    Talk me in or out of this idea of life long learning.
    M
    P.S. out next stop is central or south America.

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