Lainie and Miro | Unschooling | Unconventional Parenting

laine_and_miro

As time goes on, you mention a need as an unschooling family for greater community. How did this need become apparent for you?

This is such a pivotal question which has guided our experience in the most profound way. Thank you for asking it.

We never set out to be an unschooling family, actually didn’t even know there was such a thing before we left on our travels in 2009. Though our own process of living, traveling and learning naturally, we discovered there was a name for what we were doing, and that we were indeed “unschoolers”.

As a parent, I took my role in the process seriously, being the best facilitator for my son, listening to his cues, offering support,  providing resources and committed to learning right along side to him. We were conscious about this choice and took on the task of learning intentionally.

We made joint decisions about our lives,  deciding where to go, when to go and how to live. We have been living in true partnership and both of our needs were being met as we learned to compromise and make adjustments along the way.

But as Miro moved into his teen years, community started to become a greater need for him. A couple of years ago, we were invited speak at an alternative education conference. We flew back to the States to make our presentation and received great feedback and support. But the greatest outcome from that trip were two points of clarity for Miro.

First, Miro realized that he was hyper sensitive to the commercialism which was a part of everyday American life. It is difficult to recognize that when you are living within the culture, but when you are away for a number of years the sensation seems stronger.  Also, Miro perceived that people seemed very busy, interactions  between strangers were more formal and disconnected. Miro reflected that he felt a great sense of freedom within our lifestyle and preferred that pace. Miro concluded that he preferred our life of travel and had no interest in returning to the States to live.  At least for now.

I agreed.

But his second epiphany took me off guard.

Community.

During the conference, Miro connected with many other self directed learners (unschoolers) for the first time, in-real-life. Yeah, he had friends when he attended primary school in the States, with nothing more in common than being the same age and living within the same geographical area. He does not describe those friendships as deep in any way. But finally, as a 13 year old teenager, Miro came face to face with his peer group,  an intelligent, quirky, liberal minded, self-directed group of teenage learners. “Finally”, he thought, “my community, my people”.   And that experience alone,  left an impression on Miro which changed the course of our lives.

We flew back to Peru, and furiously started to make plans to shift the focus of our first planned immersive family retreat into a learning community specifically designed for teens (which it is now). http://projectworldschool.com/

A lot of our readers ask how-to & mindset questions about affording the time and money necessary to live the unschooling lifestyle. In general terms can you share how you and others you have met on a similar path accomplish this lifestyle from a financial perspective?

We live day to day. I’ve become clear that “working” is no longer my life’s purpose as it once was. To go from earning $10,000 a month to living off of that amount per year, didn’t happen over night.

We made adjustments about what we valued. If Miro and I did not adapt an attitude to “collect memories” versus to “collecting things” we would not be able to live the way we do. So the first step of living within our means is changing our relationship to “stuff”.

As Americans, I had to relearn how to live within my means. I recognize I was privileged before, where I had the ability to buy whatever I wanted whenever I wanted. I would put things on the credit card and have anything I desired in a fraction of a moment. Instant gratification in terms of purchasing and adjusting that relationship to money took some practice. My life before was completely different, that’s for sure.

Now, we have no credit, no savings, no safety net to fall back on. I don’t have a boyfriend or husband to help. Miro’s dad doesn’t contribute at all either. My family (although I’m certain they won’t let us starve and have certainly helped us in the past) does not support us in any way. Without credit cards, both Miro and I have to always be acutely aware of what we are spending and what we have in that moment. Without a savings account we cannot plan ahead. Without a permanent source of income we become grateful for each day. And because we don’t know what is going to come in each month, so we have had to learn to be comfortable with what we have, no planning for the future and always living in the moment. For many, I suspect that’s the most difficult obstacle.

Is living on a shoe string the most difficult part? No. I think the “uncertainty” is what prevents many from taking on this lifestyle. And I’m not going to lie to you, it’s not stress-free.

Not intended to scare you, but we have had the experiences on three separate occasions over the past five years of completely running out of money. Are you surprised? We had under $10 in our bank account without any idea of how we were going to earn more money.  And this happened on three separate occasions. Did I freak out? Maybe a little. But each time, we were able to find a solution.

The biggest lesson we’ve learned from becoming self sufficient while traveling is creating multiple streams of income. Not one is consistent and our income varies from month to month, some months, close to nothing comes in. The key is to diversify. Here’s how we’ve managed up to this point:

  • web advertising
  • freelance writing
  • freelance consulting
  • income from our retreats
  • small profit from Miro’s sales from his store

The funny thing is, we always seem to have exactly what we need. It was possible, because we did rethink everything including the way we participate in this world. And creating multiple streams of income seems to be the solution.

Every time we thought we were stuck in the world without money, we’ve magically been provided for. And living with the knowledge that we are always going to be ok was a shift out of fear that is more valuable than any stream of income.

I’ll say that again.

The most valuable asset we have is living without fear and knowing that we will always be ok.

But I know that takes time to get there.

Besides the financial aspects, what are some of the other considerations needed to maintain your unschooling / travel lifestyle?

Our story is not just about unschooling or traveling. It’s about a total lifestyle makeover including travel, simplifying our lives by choosing to be present and living from inspiration.  I could not give you an example that could be replicated in the US. In fact, I could not provide a formula that would work for anyone else other than ourselves, since everyone’s  paths are unique and individual. But what I can share are some of the areas we focused upon in hopes that it sparks your own unique paths of inspiration..

Flexibility.
My son and I left the US in 2009 with the intention to travel the world for 1 year. The first thing I have to share is the importance of flexibility. We have been on the road now, just starting our 6th year and we’ve only traveled throughout Latin America. And we are completely satisfied with our choices, since they are indeed, our choices.

Inspiration.
We’ve become intimate with our own inspiration, how it feels in our bodies and what it’s messages are. We now recognize that spark inside of us that ignites our creativity and passion. For both Miro and I, travel inspires us, but so does many other things. And now, we listen as it’s become a huge factor in our decision making.

Intuition.
Like inspiration, this another of those internal gifts we’ve tapped into and have learned to recognize it’s voice. Our intuition keeps us safe, and guides us with gut feelings and acts as our inner guidance system.

Trust.
This is huge. Trust the world. Trust that we are learning. Trust that we are on path. Trust that our decisions are right for ourselves, right now. We do have trust in these things and more.

Information.
Yes, we are unschoolers, and academic information plays a role in our lives too. It compliments the experience and deepens our learning. But for me, as a parent, it helps me understand the dynamics of learning, the process of developmental stages, the nature of being human, how we are wired and how we grow. It is my responsibility as a parent to keep my son safe, support his dreams and allow him the space to make his own mistakes. The internet has been the best library for us for all subjects;  academic, health, safety, emotional, spiritual and travel resources. I can’t imagine how we’d manage without it.

Fear.
Fear is powerful. Fear, as a topic, comes up quite a bit for us now. But not how you may think. It comes up in the form of questions asked of  us, seeking the tricks we used to overcome fear in our lives. I’ve thought long and hard about this. We haven’t become ‘fearless” nor are we extraordinarily brave. We’ve merely learned to transform our relationship to fear and prevent it from becoming a dominant force in our lives.

My former reactions caused by fear have pretty much ceased but the lessons they’ve granted us are profound.

Did we transcend fear. The majority of the questions we receive from our readers is “how do we do this?”

But did we really overcome fear? I’d say no. But what we did learn over the last five years was how to identify, demystify and overcome fearful thoughts as they came up.
I wrote about fear in detail here: http://www.raisingmiro.com/2014/01/25/how-we-overcame-fear-10-things-you-need-to-know-about-fear/

Presence.
Presence directly relates to our relationship with “time”, something we never seemed to have enough of when we lived a conventional over-scheduled life, back in Los Angeles. Now we have time. Now we are present in our lives individually and with one another. We have learned to be present with so many things, our feelings, the mundane, our thoughts and interests, our inner going-ons, the world around us, everything. I can’t imagine life any other way now. Seems like upon reflection, our lives before had a lack of “presence” and we were superficially going through the motions that mimic life. Kind of like living in a matrix, but we had an inkling there was something else out there. In fact, wanting to have “more time” was one of the greatest catalysts for our lifestyle change in the first place.

Appreciation.
Along with the practice of being present in our lives, we started to feel appreciation and gratitude for everything around us. The sound water drops make when floating downward in a public fountain, the way my computer hums when it starts up, the sounds of barking dogs in the deep night. Gratitude to see my son wake up based on his own rhythms, the ability to buy fresh food from the markets and shake the hands of the farmers who grow it and the ability to learn something new each and every day. So much to appreciate, so much to be grateful for.

What is the difference between “unschooling” and “worldschooling”?

The definition to both words are not unanimously agreed upon among the practitioners or communities involved.

However a general definition of “unschooling” is to live as if school does not exist. There are deeper philosophies at the foundation of the unschooling movement that include supported self-directed learning as an outcome of natural learning, usually facilitated by the parent(s).

Some even incorporate the “child-led” philosophy into every aspect of the learners life, allowing complete freedom not just focused on learning, but within food choices, bedtimes and hygiene issues.  They are known as “radical unschoolers”.

Others incorporate project based learning or other forms of formalized curriculum into the mix and consider themselves “relaxed unschoolers”.

But as for “worldschoolers”, the definition is less formalized.

Some refer to worldschooling as the act of “unschooling” during travel, while others call themselves worldschoolers as expats who enroll their children in local schools throughout the world for full cultural immersion.

There is no wrong or right way to apply any of the “unschooling” or “worldschooling” terminology in my opinion. I believe each family needs to breathe their own meaning into one that works for them.

We consider ourselves “worldschoolers” and define the meaning in this way:

Miro and I have practiced the principles of “radical unschooling” as we’ve moved through our journey together. We didn’t set out to do so, only discovered that was the name for what we were doing after we had been living that way for almost a year. However, when my son asks for support on certain self-directed projects, we use the principles of “project based learning”, where  I support him through project management and in that aspect we would considered a “relaxed unschooler”.

My son’s self directed learning has always been interest led….with one clear exception: learning from  ideas we are exposed to as a result of our travel experiences.

Since we’ve been living a “travel lifestyle” for over five years, those exposures tend to be daily experiences. In other words, by virtue of being in the world, we are exposed to things, ideas, cultures, environments, history and experiences that may have not been guided by either of our interests, rather guided by travel. But we see it as an opportunity to pursue greater information to place context into our experiences. It’s immersive learning, not necessarily driven by interest, rather driven by experience. Therefore, our self definition is that as a “worldschooler”, versus solely identifying as an “unschooler”.

It’s inspiring to see Miro’s Fair Trade Peruvian Artisan Store evolve. How have world schooling and temporary learning communities impacted Miro as an entrepreneur?

Miro had a desire to contribute to the family and earn his own money. He has decided to do so by sharing with his audience the amazing and wonderful artisan goods that are available around us. He has experienced all aspects of running his own business from establishing relationships, placing orders, marketing, accounting, shipping and customer service. He’s had some challenging experiences through the process and has made some tough decisions about growing his business and has even had some high volume wholesale orders he was responsible for filling. But all in all, the worldschooling experience has gone hand in hand with his venture.

Please tell us about the upcoming temporary learning communities you are organizing in 2015.

Project World School International Retreats- Teens and young adults are invited to participate in one of Project World School‘s immersive learning events in 2015.  Designed for homeschoolers, unschoolers and democratic learners alike, we offer immersive multi day retreats formed as a Temporary Learning Community. Each retreat utilizes the enigmatic landscape of  each country as the canvas for exploration and discovery.

For the 2015-2016 season we will be producing retreats in Peru, Ecuador, Mexico, Guatemala and Argentina.

Here is the 2015 schedule:

Ecuador – Surfing & Marine Conservation- April 28 – May 22, 2015

A high-octane, 25 day learning community adventure retreat in Ecuador surrounding marine biology with an emphasis on conservation, biodiversity & environmental sciences. Special bonus, surfing, biking, and snorkeling in the beautiful Ecuadorian Pacific coast exploring a little of surrounding jungle areas.

For more information, please visit: http://projectworldschool.com/ecuador-surfing-marine-biology/
Peru- Cusco & the Sacred Valley – June 29 – July 23, 2015

A 25 day learning community retreat centering in Cusco & the Sacred Valley. This retreat has an emphasis on exploring Andean culture, history, archeology and traditional artisan disciplines with a trip to the enigmatic Machu Picchu.
For more information, please visit: http://projectworldschool.com/peru-cusco-sacred-valley-retreat/
Peru- The Amazon Jungle – August 3 -August 27, 2015

A 25 day learning community retreat taking place in the Amazon rain forest, with an emphasis on conservation, sustainability, natural medicines, ethnobotany and biology.

For more information, please visit: http://projectworldschool.com/peru-the-amazon-jungle/
We have not released the 2016 yet.

Every retreat focuses on a specific theme related to each of our host countries. Our learning communities merge immersive learning experiences with personal and social development focusing on global citizenship, cultural sensitivity, developing relationships, through exploring ethics and conflict resolution.

Participants both lead and follow in an atmosphere of dynamic co-creation and immersive discovery. Each day builds upon the last, with every exploration leading the group into uncharted directions.
However, this is not your typical study abroad program. Project World School utilizes the power of a learning community to produce a project driven by goals, knowledge acquisition, and changes in a global perspective.

What are the key elements of a “temporary learning community”? Perhaps you could share some key differences between a “temporary learning community” and a more traditional study abroad program.

A learning-community is defined as  a group of people who share common emotions, values or interests and are actively engaged in learning together and from each other. Such communities have become the template for a cohort-based, interdisciplinary approach to alternative education.

Why temporary, you ask? The nature of co-creating a “temporary” learning community is very intentional. It will only exist in a certain point in time, and will rely on all of its participants to come together and breathe life into it. Somewhat within the vein of other temporary communities such as Burning Man, which comes together to form an actual city of a half a million people in the desert for one week. Then it’s gone. The magic happens in a intentional singular point in time, but the effects remain for a lifetime.

The benefits of creating a learning community are countless. The primary distinction is experienced through collaboration influencing the overall learning experience.

We are a true believers of social learning. We have noticed on our travels, when we have shared experiences with a group of other people, everyone spontaneously contributes through conversation, observation and sharing previously acquired knowledge. These social learning experiences are lasting, transforming the “natural learning” into a meaningful social activity.

Our temporary learning communities includes intentional social learning, immersive cultural experiences, teamwork and leadership activities and opportunities for deep interpersonal development.

In contrast, traditional study abroad programs are usually geared towards individual learning which include an inflexible curriculum, which measures knowledge acquisition through testing.

Project World School is clearly different in approach and concept.

What is your highest vision for Project World School?

Our highest vision for Project World School is to be a catalyst for change, transforming individual world views that effect our collective perceptions of humanity. We do this through hosting immersive cultural learning experiences that promote personal development within the context of a global learning community.

We envision a time when Project World School becomes an integral part of self-directed learner’s adolescence. We envision a world where these teens go back to their homes and communities to make changes, share greater cultural awareness, and become thought leaders.

Project World School retreats will become a network of temporary learning communities throughout the world to encourage interaction before, during and after the month long events.
Contact info:

Lainie Liberti

Raising Miro on the Road of Life – Experiencing Global Education through World Travel
http://www.raisingmiro.com

Project World School – Inspiring Temporary Learning Communities for Teens & Young Adults
http://projectworldschool.com
Facebook Pages:

Raising Miro – https://www.facebook.com/RaisingMiroPodcast
Project World School – https://www.facebook.com/projectworldschool1

Twitter- @ilainie – https://twitter.com/ilainie

How to Create and Sell Online Courses on Your WordPress Website with One Plugin

WordPress LMS plugin for themes lifter LMS

Chris here. I wanted to introduce you to a project I’ve been working on for quite some time called lifterLMS. Figuring out how to create and sell online courses is a passion of mine.

One of the ways you can turn your WordPress powered website or blog into a “money-maker” is to create and sell online courses from your website. We’ve been doing that for a while over at our Organic Life Guru website. If you want more time at home with your family or want to build an online business, creating and selling online courses is an option that can work if you’re ready to get to work creating some educational material.

Over the past 6 months I’ve been developing a WordPress LMS plugin with codeBOX that makes it so you can quickly add online courses to your website. It’s called lifterLMS. “LMS” stands for Learning Management System.

We just made it available to the public until Monday November 3. Then we’re taking it off the market and focusing our efforts on the innovators who purchased early so we can build out and further develop the features they want. lifterLMS will again become available for purchase in January 2015.

I’d love see any of you creative entrepreneurs with something to teach, and a desire to build a business around that knowledge, join and become a lifterLMS VIP.

Here’s what lifterLMS does as of today …

lifterLMS Features

LMS & eLearning Features

Organize Your LMS - Easily create an unlimited number of courses, sections, and lessons.

Modern Admin Interface – Intuitive course creation interface with drag and drop lesson capabilities for easy organization

Ready for any Medium – Create video lessons, audio lessons, text­based lessons, downloads, or any combination

Test Your Students – Quizzes and assignments with automatic or manual grading coming soon …

Certificates – Automatically issue custom, printable certificates upon completion of course material

Time Your Content – Drip­feed your course content, create prerequisites, or leave it wide open

Track and Visualize Student Progress – Built­-in e­learning analytics and reporting coming soon …

Engage Your Students – Course discussions area coming soon …

Google Hangouts & Live Events – Live events management and Google Hangouts integration to create blended learning experiences coming soon …

Ecommerce Features

Native Shopping Cart Included – Built in shopping cart designed specifically to the needs of a LMS website with no third party shopping carts required

Choose Your Payment Type – Sell your courses for a one­time price or offer subscription payments

Watch Your Sales Grow – Track your sales and income with built in ecommerce order tracking

Payment Gateways – Works with Paypal out of the box, including subscriptions + Stripe credit card processing and more coming soon …

WooCommerce Option – One click setting available to integrate with WooCommerce if you want to use their system and extensions

Discounts and Promotions – Custom coupon system for your promotion needs coming soon …

Membership Site Features

Advanced Restriction Settings – Create and sell unlimited membership levels to protect the whole site or specific groups of

Intuitive Member Management – Intuitive admin interface for creating and managing membership levels and related restricted access

Front­end Profiles and User Panels – Students will never have to log into WordPress. They will have custom student dashboards.

Engagement Features

Advanced Automated Emails – Easily set up personalized automated instant or time delayed emails to go out based on user action

Rengagement – Send pre­crafted personalized emails to users who have not logged into your LMS in a timeframe you select

Awards – Reward students for course progress and completion with certificates, achievements, and gamification to your LMS

lifterLMS General Features

Theme Agnostic – Works with any well coded WordPress theme so you can customize the look and feel to your heart’s content.

Responsive – Mobile responsive, device agnostic design.

Unprecedented Support – Responsive high level support direct from the team who created the WordPress LMS

lifterLMS Demo Video

Check out the lifterLMS demo video my business partner Joshua made …

 >> Click here to grab your copy of lifterLMS <<

How Industrial Agriculture Hurts Families in India and How You Can Help

My friend David Goldman is traveling to India to photograph and document the lives of people affected by the sugarcane industry. David is crowd funding the project on IndeGoGo.

As large sugarcane factories are polluting once fertile land, politicians are looking the other way while underpaid and maltreated workers are contracting illnesses like chronic kidney disease (CKD). HIV continues to spread while the worker’s job related neglect of their parents and children can damage a family irreparably.  I will travel by oxcart with migrant workers from their villages to the factory towns, learning along the way what motivates them and what are the challenges they face both individually and as families. Once they begin to work I will accompany them in the fields and document on film and video what it means to be a sugarcane factory worker, it’s risks and it’s meager rewards.

~ David Goldman

David GoldmanCheck out David’s incentives for backing this project here: https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/the-migrant-worker-as-a-commodity He has a lot of great incentives at low price points. On the higher end ($2,000), David will go anywhere in the United States and personally mentor you in photography over a weekend. I know David personally. He’s a great guy, and if you’re into the craft of photography, David is brilliant & a great teacher. A weekend with him would be a lot of fun and very rewarding.

At the end of the day what resonates with me about David’s work is how the commoditization of the sugarcane industry is influencing parents to detach from their children and elderly, abandoning them for low paid work.

I’m not against capitalism. I am against economics that isolate children.

This story needs to be told.

Let’s support David.

Click here for more info about David’s project

In Raising Children, Is Decency, Love & Work Ethic More Important than Happiness?

The parenting section of the bookstore is overwhelming sometimes—it’s “a giant, candy-colored monument to our collective panic,” as writer Jennifer Senior puts it. Why is parenthood filled with so much anxiety? Because the goal of modern, middle-class parents—to raise happy children—is so elusive. In this honest talk, she offers some kinder and more achievable aims.

Jennifer Senior is the author of All Joy and No Fun: The Paradox of Modern Parenthood

The Tool You Need to Create and Sell Online Courses to Support Your Family

WordPress LMS plugin for themes lifter LMS

How to Make and Sell Online Courses

I’ve got some exciting news about a WordPress Learning Management System plugin that I’ve been quietly creating with the team at codeBOX.

It’s called lifterLMS: http://lifterlms.com

The lifterLMS WordPress plugin gives people the ability to create and sell online courses all inside WordPress, all without needing other plugins to handle the ecommerce and membership site aspect of it.

How Making and Selling Online Courses Can Help Support Your Family

I’m not going to sugar coat it. The act of creating and selling online courses takes a lot of work. As you probably know, I’ve done that here.

It can create a nice passive income stream for you once you create some valuable online learning and push it out into the world.

I wanted to make a tool to make this whole crazy intersection between eLearning, membership sites, and ecommerce much easier.

That was the genesis of the lifterLMS WordPress LMS plugin.

How lifterLMS Came to Life …

lifterLMS logoI also know I couldn’t accomplish this technological challenge by myself. That’s why I teamed up with the talented team at codeBOX to make this dream a reality. In fact the team over there is so great, I’m slowly merging my web design and development business Badgett Web Design with theirs.

You know as the world continues to become more complex, it becomes increasingly harder to “go it alone.” There’s magic and genius when the right people come together. Entering into these types of partnerships can dramitically reduce stress in your life and increase potential, financial and otherwise.

The lifterLMS WordPress plugin for building your online courses website is one of those things where I hope I can help you push closer to the freedom and impact you seek in the world.