Family on Bikes

A Family Cycles from the Arctic to Patagonia


Boise, Idaho, USA
August 31
Our family of four (with 13-year-old twin boys) dreamed the impossible dream and reached the unreachable star! On March 21, 2011 we pedaled the final mile to arrive at the end of the world in USHUAIA, Argentina! We spent three years cycling 17,300 miles through 15 countries starting in Alaska to get there.


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APRIL 14, 2012 8:00AM

Schools & Jails: What’s the difference?

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In our 22 months of full time rving we have passed thousands of schools.  We’ve also passed hundreds of jails, and I’m always struck by how similar they look.

Have you noticed this too?

jails and schoolsBland concrete walls, small windows, tall chain link fences.

Both institutions reek of, well… Institution!

The only main difference I can see, is that aside from the special security measures to ‘keep kids safe’ the bars at a school are invisible… but they are just as real as the bars that keep prisoners in line…

The bars at the majority of schools in our nation are placed on the students’ minds and potential… but they have they same effect that is… to keep the inmates students in line.

Despite the obvious shortcomings of the current public education system in the US, I was still overwrought with fear to extract my children from its clutches and become their primary educator.

I was terrified that I would fail them.

So, after some soul searching and discovery, I boiled my responsibilities down to two manageable goals:

Goal #1: Encourage their passions – No matter our age, we are all passionate about something… So from a very young age, we have been exploring our childrens’ passions.  At first, we were just trying to engage them on family vacations (like taking them on scenic train rides and to model train museums (two of my four children are rail fans)).  However, as their interest increased, so did the tools they used and time they spent researching.  Pretty soon, we knew all about Diesel/electric locomotives, main line routes, and every major railroad merger of the past 25 years.

These topics all provided opportunities for writing, reading, math, science, geography, history, all of the subjects a student would be exposed to in a traditional school, but all focused on their passion – and therefore – readily received by children hungry for knowledge.

Goal #2: Encourage them to be passionate about learning – For the past 20 years, I have been completely self-taught.  A self-taught data base administrator, a self-taught medical transcription instructor, a self-taught dog ice cream maker and most recently a self-taught magazine editor.

It is through my love of learning, that I have been able to accomplish this very varied life experience.

Now, my children can further their knowledge on their subject/s of choice and any other topic they develop a passion for.  They’ve learned how to research on a computer, through books and periodicals and through life experiences.

Our lifestyle affords them the opportunity to visit the locales they discover.

  • To touch the equipment.
  • To stand on the rails,
  • To meet the engineers, and
  • To see how the freight moves across the country.

But can this individual learning model be replicated in a classroom setting?  Do teachers have the time and resources to free their pupils’ minds from the jail of the mass production of the public school system and help them explore?

Given the current climate with school overcrowding and “teaching to the test”, I say, unfortunately, “No”.

The current school situation is merely a symptom of our broken “American Dream”.

Unless, more parents awaken from the consumer driven haze and create their own dream for their family, their children’s education success is a mere crap shoot based factors that have very little to do with learning.  Like the encouragement they receive from their teachers, their ability to fly under bullies’ radars, and their discipline and determination to not fall in with the wrong crowd.

In the penal system of the average American public school, students must conform to excel.

Have you ever found greatness by following the crowd?

Kimberly Travaglino is the author of “How to Hit the Road“, a comprehensive step-by-step guide for making your family’s full time RV dreams a reality.  She also serves as the Editor of Fulltime Families Magazine, a company that supports risk takers, pioneers, and enlightened families blazing their own path across the country.

This post is one in a series of posts about redefining education. Here are the others:

Why the School System isn’t Educating Your Child (And What To Do About It)

4 Steps to Improve Education in the USA

You Can’t Reform an Education System Based on Oppression

Educating Kids Through Teacher/Student Partnerships

Let’s quit arguing about what’s wrong with schools and man-up as parents

Imagine something better than school

Is our education system built on miracle teachers?

How to improve our schools from an unschooler’s perspective

Thinking out loud, outside the box

Learning is the new paradigm of Education

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Schools & Jails: What’s the difference? is a post from: Family on Bikes. Sign up for our monthly newsletter to receive your free e-book: Bicycle Touring with Children; A Guide to Getting Started.

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