Some 8 years ago, soon after getting married, my husband and I decided to leave England and head for places unknown, seeking to experience different approaches to life. Our first destination was Damascus, Syria. We adjusted to new ways of living, tasted unfamiliar foods, and embraced Syrian culture, all while still learning about each other. Fast forward a year and a half, and we found ourselves navigating parenthood and sleepless nights in Damascus. Just like us, our daughter has been initiated into the classroom of our world, the world. Our later ‘classrooms’ would be Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, England, and currently Turkey.
What exactly do I mean by classroom? What we were doing then is now known as ‘world-schooling’, a term that still doesn’t have a set definition, but is a concept that involves travelling and un-schooling/home-schooling. World Schooling was developed by Eli Gerzon, who defines it by saying “It’s when the whole world is your school, instead of school being your whole world.” We chose to school our child by means of complete immersion in the smells and sights of the different places we have lived, so that she can learn from the world around her – the cultures, the food, the people, and their ways – just like we have.
During our travels and time living abroad, we have explored and discovered. In Damascus, we learnt the art of seasonal cleaning of rugs and floors. We learnt Arabic formulaic expressions associated with specific circumstances, like when you get a haircut or someone requests something from you. In Jordan, we discovered the importance of community, and learnt how to eat healthily. In Saudi Arabia, we saw sights beyond belief in the desert night sky, things I did not know were possible to see with the naked human eye. We also acquired a taste for the fresh dates that grew in abundance locally, and at times felt like we were living and witnessing the history we had read about in our books. In Qatar, we were fascinated by how dependent the country was on imported goods, and met people from all corners of the world. We also participated in our first ever home-schooling co-operative! Back in London, forest schools became our favourite place to be, surrounded by nature all day; discovering the names of many plants and trees, making face paint from charcoal, and using a saw for the first time. Finally, in our current home in Turkey, we have learnt a new language while exploring the natural and civilisational magnificence of this blessed land. We have taken the train across the snowy Anatolian plains, crossed continents on the passenger ferry in Istanbul, and sampled the delight of pouring melted butter on a donor kebab. This is just a small glimpse of the reality of our world-schooling experience.
There are many stories of families who quit their full-time jobs and took to the road – whether in a motor vehicle that became their home or by living in airbnb’s around the globe. Some choose to world-school during the summer holidays, others set a year out, working remote jobs to support themselves financially. However you choose to world-school, know that the world is truly your oyster and canvas, and will always be a place of prayer for all.
Shahida is a home-educating, world-schooling mama currently living in Turkey with her husband and daughter. Together they have lived in 5 countries over 8 years. Shahida blogs about food, travel and other lifestyle topics at www.nomadicbites.com. She also has a Facebook page and Instagram account where you can follow her adventures. She has a BA in International Relations and Arabic language and has a background in marketing, graphic design and teaching.