Exploring Unschooling-Part 3
Interview with Eli Gerzon, an unschooled adult who decided to direct his own education at the age of 15
Episode #24 is Part 3 of the series on the subject of ‘unschooling’. Lainie & Miro explore the concept of child-led education. Also in this episode, Lainie and Miro talk about the beautiful Colonial town of Salento and share some discoveries about pirates and zombies. It’s a great episode!
“The world is full of magical things patiently waiting for our wits to grow sharper.” ~ Bertrand Russell
Episode #24 the last in a 3 part series in exploring the ideas surrounding ‘unschooling’. Because we continue to receive many emails from our audience asking us questions about my education, we decided to dedicate the month of April to exploring the idea of unschooling.
A World of Learning – The Series
A World of Learning, Part 1
The first in this series is Episode #22. This episode contains a wonderful conversation with Peter Kowalke, a 32-year-old homeschooler, journalist, film director and editor of Unschooler.com.
A World of Learning, Part 2
In Episode #23, I had a delightful conversation with Amy, a mother of two boys from Canada, who together with her husband, are preparing for their world travel through South East Asia while they unschool their two sons. She provide some wonderful tips on how how familiy is preparing for their up and coming travels.
A World of Learning, Part 3
And in third in this 3 part series is this episode, Episode #24, where I speak with Eli Gerzon, an unschooled adult who decided to direct his own education at the age of 15. Eli, an advocate for homeshooling, has replaced the traditional classroom with the world as experienced through his travels and has coined the phrase “worldschooling”. Inspired by how much he has learned and grown as a result of his travels, Eli created Worldschool Travel Tours in 2008, where he has led small groups of teens on trips through Latin America and Asia.
“Education, for most people, means trying to lead the child to resemble the typical adult of his society…But for me, education means making creators…You have to make inventors, innovators, not conformists.” ~ Jean Piaget
Eli Gerzon writes and speak about homeschooling, unschooling and worldschooling. From an article on his site, Eli address the reasons he left school and embarked on his unschooling journey:
Excerpted from this artilce: To Swing in a Tree and From Bullets be Free: Why I Left School
“A while back, after I had been unschooling for a year or so, I decided to write out some uncommon answers to very common homeschooling questions.
The best one was, “Why did you decide to leave school?”
My reply: “If you saw a monkey swinging in a tree, would you ask it why it left the zoo?”
The essence of this tongue in cheek response is the start, but not the end, of how I would honestly answer the question now. The alternate way I’ve come to look at it evolved from a heated discussion with some homeschooling parents, friends of mine, after attending a John Taylor Gatto speech.
I was trying to make a point when I asked, “Yes, but what is the main reason you don’t send your children to school?”
I expected them to simply answer “freedom” and thus help prove some point I was trying to make, but I was surprised when Glenn answered in a thoughtful voice almost to himself, “Why do I avoid sending my children into a battlefield where bullets are flying?”
To read the entire article, please go to his site here.
“I am learning all the time. The tombstone will be my diploma.”
The following is excerpted from this article called ‘Worldschooling‘ by Eli Gerzon:
What’re the differences between and the definitions of homeschooling, unschooling, and worldschooling?
Homeschooling— This is the official and most common term for not going to school full-time; being otherwise educated. The word clearly implies creating a school structure in the home, as some do, though many or even most homeschoolers utilize many educational opportunities outside of the home. Even when this is the case many people will still refer to themselves as homeschoolers because it is the most recognizable term or they think of their home as the base of their schooling.
Unschooling — This term was coined by John Holt to emphasize his educational philosophy as something fundamentally different than school and education as most people think of it. It’s essentially freedom or the confidence in free people’s ability to become educated by utililizing the resources and guidance around them and inside of them. It is often described as “child driven learning”, free of coercion and based on following one’s own interests, not necessarily using any of the usual school resources. Still, one can go to classes and use textbooks while still calling oneself an unschooler as many unschoolers do.
(John Holt was a school teacher himself. He started to become a critic of the way schools were run and wrote about How Children Fail to learn because of school and looking at How Children Learn realized it’s really despite of school. Eventually he started to tell parents, “You can Teach Your Own children and let them enjoy Growing Without Schooling because, in truth, children are actually Learning All the Time.” In fact as a philosophy it’s Never Too Late to start unschooling and follow ones bliss to learn whatever one wants. At the same time, many unschoolers and unschooling advocates, including Pat Farenga, a protege of John Holt and current president of Holt Associates, has expressed a desire for a more positive term that isn’t defined by what it isn’t.)
Worldschooling — This is a new term coined by Eli Gerzon that is essentially a more descriptive and positive version of unschooling that can apply to anyone even those beyond school age. Gerzon defines it by saying, “It’s when the whole world is your school, instead school being your whole world.” Eli Gerzon has “unschooled through college” mainly by learning from his international travels but the term does not require you to travel the world, just as unschooling doesn’t forbid making use of school resources. Instead, it’s when one actively experiences and learns from the world around one: the home, family, friends, strangers of all backgrounds, libraries, parks, sports, forests, schools, towns, and of course the world and the world wide web. It also emphasizes that there is always more to learn from this wonderful, complex world regardless of whether one has a high school degree, is a doctor, or is solely self-educated.
After we left Manizales, we headed to the Colonial town of Salento, just a 3 hour bus ride into the next district. In the colonial era, the main route from Popayán to Bogotá travelled over the Quindío Pass, passing through the current-day site of Salento.
This was an important route, and in 1830, Simón Bolívar ordered that it be upgraded. However, work did not start until 14 years later after the Guerra de los Supremos. Interestingly, political prisoners from that war were sent from Panamá, Antioquia and Cauca to upgrade and maintain the road. After completing their sentences, the prisoners were freed and given a block of land in the region.
The site of the penal colony was known as Barcinales, located where Salento is today. Families of the prisoners arrived and built their houses and developed farms upstream along the Quindío River in the Corcora Valley, where Miro and I hiked to see the giant wax palms. If you haven’t had the chance to see our post on our hike through the Corcora Valley, Miro and I recorded the 6 ½ hour hike with 15 short video segments taking you along with us. Please be sure to check out the page here.
Pirates, Monsters and Zombies, Oh My
As we shared with you in Episode #23, Miro has a keen interest in Cryptozoology and has been reading as much as he can get his hands on. He does have other interests though, and one of them is Zombies. Miro just recently finished reading a book called The Zombie Survival Guide by Max Brooks. He says it’s a great book, covering everything A-Z about Zombies like how to identify zombie characteristics, strategies to stay safe in the case of an outbreak and even recorded occurrences of Zombie attacks. One particular reference caught my attention and wanted to share it with you here.
In podcasts episodes 14 & 17, we share the history surrounding the cities Portebello, Panama and Cartegena, Colombia as both have a rich history of pirates. In fact both cities share history of Sir Francis Drake, the pirate turned nobleman. Surprisingly, The Zombie Survival Guide also mentions him:
1579 A.D. The Central Pacific
“During his circumnavigation of the globe, Francis Drake, the pirate who later became a national hero, stopped at an unnamed island to restock his supplies of food and fresh water. The natives warned him not to visit a small, nearby cay that was inhabited by “the Gods of the Dead”. According to custom, the deceased and terminally ill were placed on this island where the gods would take them, body and soul to live forever. Drake, fascinated by their story, decided to investigate. Observing from aboard ship, he watched as a native shore party placed the body of a dying man in the island’s beach. After blowing several calls from a conch shell, the natives retreated to sea. Moments later, several figures staggered slowly out of the jungle. Drake watched them feed on the corpses before slouching out of sight. To his amazement, the half-eaten body rose to it’s feet and hobbled after them. Drake never spoke of this incident during his life. The facts were discovered in a secret journal he kept hidden until his death. This journal, passing from one personal collector to another, eventually found it’s way into the library of Admiral Jackie Fischer, the father of the modern Royal Navy. In 1907, Fischer had it copied and gave it to several of his friends as a Christmas gift. Along with exact coordinates, Drake proclaimed this landmass “the Isle of the Damned”.
For more on Miro’s writing about cryptozology, be sure to check out:
3 Figures From Folklore I Hope We Never Run Into – Part 1
3 Figures From Folklore I Hope We Never Run Into – Part 2
3 Figures From Folklore I Hope We Never Run Into – Part 3
3 Figures From Folklore I Hope We Never Run Into – Part 4
Check out Miro’s article about Zombie survival called : Zombie Survival Guide- Everything you need to know about the Zed.
Eli Gerzon was born and raised in the Boston area. He went to school until the age of 15 when he discovered homeschooling and unschooling. He then chose to leave high school and direct his own education. In 2002, at the age of 18, he started his own landscaping business and used it to finance his international travels from then until now. Inspired by how much he learned and grew from travel, he created Worldschool Travel Tours in 2008. He lead small groups of teens to Mexico in 2008, Japan in 2009, and Japan again in 2010. This year he is taking a break from leading tours. You can check out his blog for writing about travel, his tours, education, and various other topics.
Volunteering & Raising Funds
As you know, Miro and I are on an 8 year, around the world journey, volunteering and living as a global citizen. We have hit a new milestone though, Miro has recently turned 12 and we recently entered our 10th country together. Our adventures ARE his classroom and we participate in the world with cultures as a visiting resident, and it’s our pleasure to give back.
We have been on the road with our backpacks as our only possessions, traveling since Miro was 10. Together, we have learned so much about humanity, cultures, language and history.
In the past we have volunteered and have gained so much from our experiences.
We have found a wonderful volunteer opportunity in Ecuador, in the city of Baños . In a small country, in a small town near the middle of the world surrounded by volcanoes and a landscape of spectacular beauty, a small group of people are working to create and grow a center of art, language and literature for the community where they live and work.
“To be human is to be imaginative and creative. The members of Fundacion Arte del Mundo recognize the importance of art and literature in the lives of people, especially the lives of children. Art and art-related activities are often the only part of a person’s life where there are no right or wrong answers, where all are equal to create and imagine, where you are encouraged to experiment.”
We are currently raising money for our living expenses while we volunteer here in Ecuador. For 2 months we need only the small sum of $750. If you can contribute even $10 it will help us so much reach our goal. Please donate at gofundme.com, We are so grateful to our supporters for your help.
Podcast #24 Sponsor
The Raising Miro Podcast has new sponsor!
Episode #24 is brought to you by the fabulous folks over at Audible
Sign for a Free 2 week trial membership AND Get a FREE audiobook download of your choice!! Go to audibletrial.com/RaisingMiro and choose from over 85,000 titles for your iPod or mp3 player
Sign up TODAY! It’s a wonderful deal.
Miro and Lainie are in South America. They have been reaching out to all of our contacts and asking for references for conscious communities, eco- villages, sustainable farms and volunteer opportunities. Lainie loves working with children, Miro loves working with animals and neither of them have ever worked on a farm, but they’re open to whatever opportunities come their way. Their desire for the first few months of the new year is to participate , volunteer their time and energies. Lainie would really like to be part of an intentional community, one that practices mediation, lives consciously and gives back to the surrounding community, helping to make locals lives a little easier. They are putting it out into the universe and making it known. If you have any suggestions or contacts for us in South America, please don’t hesitate to send off an introduction. They plan on be posting all the organizations they are considering after the beginning of the year so you can participate with their decision making process.
We want to take a moment to thank a few peoplewho have contributed to our travels. Your donations have helped cover our travel expenses and for that, we are so grateful! The people who have contributed to Raising Miro are: Ashley Hansen, Grandpa, Scott Van Pelt, Sashya Amee, Ivan Amador,Heather on Her Travels, Bradford Akerman, Tuan Vutran, Terrance O’Dowd, Eric Hammond, Chip Jacobs, Billy Horn and Sonia Kim. Thank you so much! Your support is heart-felt and much appreciated!
Support Raising Miro!
If you are interested in learning more about ways to support Raising Miro, including donating money or sponsoring our travels please click on this link. If you are interested in finding out about advertising opportunities for our podcasts or website, please on the site, please send a note here or use the donation form in the sidebar.
Subscribe via iTunes:
[iTunes] Subscribe to the Show directly in iTunes.
Subscribe via RSS feed:
[RSS] Add the Raising Miro Blog feed- Anything a new post is added or a new podcast, have it delivered automatically to your RSS aggregator. [RSS-Podcast] Interested in subscribing to the podcast feed only? That’s what you’ll do if you click on that link.
(Like how did Miro get stuck in his chair…) If you have comments or have a question you’d like to have answered in an upcoming podcast, please use send us an email using this contact form. We promise, we answer all of the questions we relieve and we love hearing from you.
To those of you who have supported us so far on this journey, the donations we’ve received and the wonderful words of encouragement. Thank you all for your comments and feedback, and please keep them coming. Thank you Hanna for giving us a wonderful professional boost with the intro & outro, engineered by Hanna Jakobson, music “Multilayered Timbres” by Dr. Pimp courtesy of CC (creative commons) license.