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Proof There is Learning Outside 4 Walls

October 21, 2017

Don’t tell me how educated you are, tell me how much you have travelled. - Mohammed -

 Learning about explorers & history by visiting old forts throughout the Caribbean. St Martin Leeward Islands

We often hear that Cole will learn more through our travels while sailing than he ever would in a four walled classroom. This sounds great but it got me thinking, how do we know for sure? Where is the proof?


I never in a million years thought that I would be home schooling/boat schooling Cole, but here we are on an epic adventure doing just that!

I would be lying if I said that I didn’t worry about what he is learning and whether the curriculum that we are using is enough. It’s a huge responsibility to make sure that Cole gets all the education that he needs to pursue his dreams in life. I would hate to be the one to limit his options because I didn’t teach him enough. We do follow a math program, a science program and keep up with reading and writing, so what about all the other stuff. What exactly is he learning that is so much more? 


 Cole is "loving" working through the books. Wink wink. 2016


Well I am happy to say that there is good news to go with these concerns. Lately we have noticed a few occasions where something that we are learning in our curriculum books has already been learnt through our experiences.

In Science we were learning about Osmosis. I was going over a lesson with Cole explaining the process when he turns to me and says “ Mom, I know this stuff, this is how our water maker works.” Hmmm, well ok then, lets skip this part and move on.


 Cole was invited for a match of chess and learned some new strategies despite the language barrier. Cienfuegos Cuba 2017.


What I have come to love about boat schooling is that it can be so flexible. We can skip things, we don’t have to drone on about things that Cole already knows and understands, we can roll right on by. If he was in a set classroom the teacher would still have to cover it all to make sure that everyone in the class got it. In our case we can move on as quickly or as slowly as we like, matching Coles level of understanding to his lessons. We can also modify certain topics to fit with where we actually are. Canadians study Jaques Cartier as an explorer and while that is great, it doesn’t make sense for us. Why would we study that explorer when we could study Christopher Columbus. After all we are travelling his route! What an experience, what a way to learn, and way more exciting than reading about some old explorer guy in a book. 


Cole learns about architecture and what communism is by visiting Cuba. 

Santiago del Cuba 2017


Boat schooling allows us to look ahead at some of the topics that we are going to cover like Volcanoes. Now we have the flexibilty to incorporate this learning with our travels to an actual Volcano. How many students get to go on a field trip to an actual Volcano and see the ground smouldering or a town completely buried in ash?


 Cole is in front of some of the destruction caused by a volcanic eruption over 100 yrs ago. St Pierre and Mount Pele, Martinique


The tour we took gave all the information that we would have got reading about in the pages of a book and has the visual and sensory experience to back it up. (We did follow up read about it as well.) We have noticed that in situations like this, retention of the information is far more vast than memorising it out of a book. Bonus!


Yesterday Cole was reading a lesson in his English book, a short passage about some of the worlds strangest animals. Sure some kids get the chance to visit zoos but Cole has encountered 5 out of 8 of them in 'real life' through our travels!


 A Capybara that Cole read about in his English lesson, found on a remote island off Southern Cuba. 


This lesson not only became more enjoyable to read but now allowed him to reflect on what he observed about these animals and write about them.

If we hadn’t read about them in this lesson he would still know about them as a result of our travels. A little proof that he does learn more out here.


 Interacting with the locals always offers a unique learning experience to skills and culture. Merida city, Mexico 2017


There are all kinds of learning opportunities while we travel that are unmeasurable. Just knowing that even the little experiences that we take for granted can have great value is reassuring. Sailing and travelling in new countries builds both problem solving and critical thinking skills that we have continuously witnessed Cole acquiring .


 Trying new things and figuring out on his own, how much they cost in Samana, Dominican Republic.


In fact I would say that he thrives on these experiences. From learning new languages, figuring out currency exchange, navigation and weather patterns and effects, not to mention all the factors that go into physically sailing our boat! These are things learned just by seeing and doing, not from a book.


 Cole knows what it means when he sees clouds like this. Weather patterns are an everyday learning experience.


 Learning the ins and outs of sailing is important. Cole is an integral part of our crew. Here he helps drop the main sail off the coast of remote Mona Island.


So while we will always use some sort of book related curriculum and we will never be an unschooling family, (I'm just not brave enough for that) I can take comfort that the learning is still happening at a tremendous rate, and I feel confident that Cole is getting a well rounded and exceptional education.


If you are interested in what books we are actually using, check out one of our previous blog posts. "We don't Homeschool, We Boat School."





“Life is for Livin”


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