Muscle cell models on the beach in Bali, In Flanders Fields in the cemetery where it was actually written, presentations about caves based on a tour underground, educating others about poverty after living in a village in Africa and learning about the life of a fallen soldier by retracing his steps. These are among the many educational opportunities Ally and Meg have had while on the road this year.
|The Marble Arch Caves Geopark - the girls prepared a lesson that Mark could share|
with his students.
|The girls working on reciting the poem In Flanders Fields, as they sit where John McCrae did many years ago when|
he wrote the poem.
One of the things people are always interested in knowing about our year-long trip is how we handle the girls’ education. Once they realize that mom and dad are their teachers, they have lots of questions! The funny thing is, that Mark and I feel more like facilitators of the girls’ learning rather than their teachers. We provide the opportunities, guidance and tickets to the world’s varied classrooms and the girls take it where they want. Compared to the two small spaces that we used to teach about the world, in Hamilton, the girls’ classroom has grown tremendously in ten months!
|Look at this space! I'm applying to teach here! Considering that they get 250 or so applications|
a week…I don't think I'll give up my day job…YET!
|I got to meet the grade two teacher working there, awesome!|
The girls started their studies the day we left on our trip, two months before their peers. We planned to devote time each day to education, probably in the morning, and spend our afternoons seeing the world. As most plans do, they changed! We soon realized that there were days when we wanted to head out early, and finding time for schoolwork was challenging. We had built in some flexibility with starting early, so none of us were too concerned. What we found worked well, was to take what we called down days and weeks. During these periods of time we stayed put, and allowed the girls the time they needed to devote to their schoolwork. Ally and Meg were motivated, as they didn’t want to fall behind their peers; although, they still needed reminders to hit the books.
The girls have taken every opportunity to learn and broaden their knowledge while we are on the road. Unlike their mom, their young minds allow them to remember persons, places and events with great detail. They are like little sponges taking everything in. Mark and I have said countless times, what a wonderful age it is to be travelling with the girls. They are old enough to be independent, and young enough to still think mom and dad are pretty cool. A little crazy at times, but pretty cool all the same! The learning they have demonstrated this year has exceeded our expectations. Sure Meg isn’t quite finished her math curriculum and Ally hasn’t written her English essay yet, but what they have done is pretty amazing.
|A visit to a coffee plantation and the rice paddies. Did you know that Honda means main rice field, and|
Toyota means bountiful rice field. It was so interesting learning how important rice is to the world economy!
Meg chose poverty as the theme for her English assignment and was able to integrate her experiences while living in the village of Mauko, Kenya into her Powerpoint presentation. Both girls researched a number of Hillfield’s fallen soldiers and wrote historical letters demonstrating their knowledge of the battles and experiences the men had during the war. Ally built a muscle cell model on the beach using garbage she had collected, for science. After the construction, all the rubbish was thrown in the bin allowing for even further benefit for the beach creatures (including us). Meghan learned to play the tinglink, a Balinese instrument made of bamboo and Ally took art lessons from a Balinese artist. They have Skyped and emailed with their teachers at home, and sent assignments and assessments through the web. We have tried to tie as many experiences as we could back into the curriculum at home.
|Meg was in her element with the kids in Kenya.|
|Anytime is a teaching moment. Mark is showing our friend George where we|
live, and where we have travelled so far.
Currently we are in Batu Feringgi, Malaysia and the girls have been immersed into the cultural melting pot. The population is made up of Chinese, Malay and Indian cultures. The food, places of worship, and clothing all reflect the diversity here. We can hear the call for prayer four times a day from our apartment; we have tasted the spicy and flavourful dishes from far off lands and were surprised to see the women swimming in full burkas in the ocean. The island has Chinese and Hindu temples, Muslim mosques and Christian churches. The pace of life is certainly different from Bali, where we rose with the roosters, hit the morning market by 6:30 am and started the day off with yoga. Batu Feringghi sleeps until well after lunch and at 6:30 pm the town is finally awake and alive! Even the mini-marts and internet cafes are closed until well after lunch. With everyone sleeping so late, it has allowed the girls to get caught up on daily exercise and schooling.
|ART - We took a tour around Georgetown to see the street art.|
|Another of the street art pieces.|
|Mmmm, Indian tonight!|
|Ally's favourite, noodles!|
|A beautiful Chinese temple, amazing! We are headed to the Hindu temple tomorrow, it is supposed|
to have the biggest buddha in Asia!
Mark and I think they have done well, but how did the girls feel about this educational journey on the road? I asked the girls and their answers demonstrated another level of learning. Meg said that it has improved her motivation. She had to persevere and do her schoolwork even though she didn’t want to sometimes. She felt what she had learned would stay with her longer as she was experiencing it, not just reading about it or watching a movie. Meg also felt that she had become more independent this year, working at her own pace. WOW, independence and motivation – those are two pretty important characteristics that are difficult to teach! Not to mention her increased willingness to engage in conversation with adults and her increased self-confidence.
|Talk about motivation, this is Meg doing school work at the beach!|
Ally was proud of her projects and loved having the freedom to spend as much time as she wished focused on one thing. Ally felt that being able to experience things and places, such as the war memorials and battlefields, allowed her to learn much more and make more connections. It was truly amazing to see Ally immerse herself into her studies. She is a driven and dedicated learner. She has also logged over five hundred hours on her Kobo, not to mention the paperbacks she has lugged around! Ally did say that she missed the opportunity to work with others (Meg was the only partner to work with on a couple of assignments). Both girls felt that what they had experienced this year had enriched their lives and allowed them to grow in so many ways.
As parents and teachers we couldn’t be more proud of our girls, and this year has certainly taught us a lot as well. Our experiences have been diverse and will certainly stay with us. While out on a run this morning, Mark and I chatted about how the trip has changed us. It has certainly enriched our lives and allowed us to experience so many different cultures. Fundamentally, we are still the same people we were when we left, but our experiences will definitely have had an impact. Our patience and tolerance has been tested, our appreciation and respect of our own country and others has increased and our love of learning has strengthened. It is hard to list all the things the trip has done for us, but they are certainly positive. We remain healthy, happy and content and really have been since the day we left. The end of our trip is rapidly approaching. I can tell because I am starting to make lists of the things I have to do when I get home, somethings never change! Although we are all thinking of home a little more often these days, we still have a month and half to go, and none of us want to miss out on the learning yet to come.
|It certainly isn't hard to be happy, healthy and content when this is the view...living, loving and|
learning every moment!