Travel erodes ignorance

This is my first thought when asked about my decision to take my son on a long-term trip to the other end of the globe. In this photo, Aidan is examining a crack in the bridge that is significant enough that the highway below is visible. What a great tool for a lesson about structures, corrosion or even civics.

Crossing a bridge in Mexico City

Crossing a bridge in Mexico City

This was truly unlike anything we’ve ever seen before and even though it was safe enough for us to cross at the time, I wouldn’t want to continue testing our luck!

Bridge in Mexico City


The Mommy Dilemma – Revisited

20140712-025039-10239564.jpgAs the Persian poet Rumi wisely wrote, “When setting out on a journey, do not seek advice from someone who has never left home.”

Most often when people talk about the mommy dilemma it is referring to the difficult decision a woman makes between maintaining a career versus devoting herself to child rearing responsibilities. In a similar fashion, as I begin to firm up what my year off will entail, On more than one occasion, I have questioned if this is in fact the best parenting choice.

As an educator, I am constantly reminded of the high value we place on the conventional form of education in North America. We most often see it as downright criminal for students to be absent from school and parents who dare allow relaxed attendance are most certainly neglectful.

In fact, I myself as a school counsellor, often help students who are struggling with attendance issues. In the secondary school setting one of the fundamental keys to success is in showing up. I know this sounds rudimentary, but some youth and families truly need support in this way, and this has become a typical task of counsellors in the system.

Perhaps to my son’s teachers chagrin, he is infrequently absent; admittedly tardy on occasion, but typically present. All testaments to my strong commitment to public education and advocacy of regular school attendance. And also the reason for the nagging voice in the back of my head calling me a “boldface hypocrite”. The same voice that makes me question what months out of my sons Grade 4 school year will do to his progress.

But I’ve got this covered, right? I tell that voice that I’ll dig up the curriculum books and I have enough teacher friends who will surely help me along the way. For a time, I feel settled with my decision when I randomly get an uncomfortable response from someone learning of my plans and the dilemma sets in again.

Some time ago a colleague went on a rant about a student who would be missing one week of school due to a family obligation overseas. A lengthy conversation occurred about this issue and the colleague suggested that we call the parents of the student in question to point out just how detrimental this absence would be. After this meeting I just about packed the idea in. If an esteemed individual, a knowledgeable longtime professional in education claimed that a one week absence was a detriment, certainly several months would be extremely harmful. Convinced that I was making a bad decision, I fretted for many days.

Then I came across an excellent Ted Talk presented by 13-year-old Logan LaPlante. Logan’s talk called “Hack Schooling” is incredibly well done. He points out the importance of embedding health and happiness into our Education. His parents began home schooling him at 9 and in his talk he describes many creative and unconventional learning experiences for helping him maintain his health and happiness. At the time, Logan’s talk was all I needed to inspire me to press on and put an end to my “mommy dilemma”.

My son will get a chance to spend time in nature, see historical sites and wonders of the world. He will experience a variety of cultures, climates and customs and be immersed in a different language. True, we will have to infuse some conventional curriculum into his days, but I truly believe he will be enriched by our adventure. As always, all opinions are welcome but I’ll be more apt to take advice from those who have “left home”.

If you are not among the 5,781,361 people who have already seen Logan’s talk, it find it here: