Our curriculum is based on our travel, and we expect to learn alongside our children as much as teach. We are full-on believers in “progressive education,” which is built on the belief that learning happens best when we experience things as opposed to only reading about them or studying them as abstract concepts. In many ways, we look at this journey as the ultimate field trip, where academic lessons and life lessons will be intertwined.
We’ve broken our curriculum down into the following nine interdisciplinary categories:
1. KNOW WHERE YOU ARE. This is our core study. Getting to know the history, geography, economy, language, and people wherever we are.
2. EARTH SCIENCE. Our major focus is going to be how the continents got formed, volcanos and land masses, teutonic plates, and most especially, how climate effects the culture and economy of each place we visit. In the Spring, we intend to rent an apartment in Amsterdam with the expressed purpose of building a Rube Goldberg machine, which hopefully won’t severely impact our security deposit.
3. LIFE MATH. In addition to Franny’s Algebra 1 (which we have outsourced to a professional math teacher via FaceTime) and Finn’s fourth grade math, we are learning real life math skills such as keeping a budget, currency conversion, and metric conversion.
4. DAILY THEMES. This is based on a course that Mark taught (as a TA) when he was a grad student at Yale in the late-80’s. It was a deeply inspiring course where students were required to write everyday, based on an assigned theme or style such as a piece of journalism, a poem, a short story, with an emphasis on writing everyday and strengthening that muscle. Everyone in the family is required to participated.
5. COMPARATIVE RELIGIONS. As very secular people, this is actually something we’re most excited about. Getting to learn about the religions of the world through both reading and witnessing religious practices all over the world. We hope to understand not just what people believe, but how religion has impacted the course of history and determines the shape of the world we live in today.
6. FAMILY BOOK GROUP. We will be reading books together as a family, sometimes aloud at bedtime, more often to ourselves. Then, in the great Book Group tradition, we will discuss the books as we go. Our reading list presently begins with “Animal Farm,” and it includes “Around The World In Eighty Days,” “Franny and Zooey,” “The Family Fang” and “Flowers For Algernon.” Please send us suggestions of your favorites.
7. EDUCATION THROUGH FILM. This involves watching films from the countries we’re visiting, and films about those countries. It’s also going to be our own Film School course, where we’ll make movies together about the places we travel and the people we meet. Hopefully we’ll glean great lessons from filmmakers around the world, and we’ll all become better cinematographers, editors, sound designers and storytellers.
8. GLOBAL ECONOMICS. Just your average run-of-the-mill fourth grade Global Econ course. This will fold in a bunch of other studies, as we look at how currency rates effect trade, the impact of the global recession on different communities, different industries and different people. Building on our science study, we’ll look at how the environment of each company impacts the industry of that nation.
9. SELF-EXPRESSION. Painting, songwriting, looking at art, creating art. We’ll also see dance all over the world, visit museums, gleaning from the masters, going to concerts and stopping to listen to street musicians. That kind of stuff.
All of this is, of course, purely theoretical at this point. Maybe we’ll just blow it all off and walk around malls.