In September 2018, I started a world tour of alternative schools. I would like to travel for two years in order to meet adults and children in educational institutions which develop a different vision of learning.
The schools I will be visiting are either public or private and they are inspired by multiple pedagogical methods: Freinet, democratic education, Montessori, Steiner and others. They are scattered all over the world: France, Belgium, Spain, Great Britain, Ireland, Hungary, Ukraine, USA, South America, India.
• What is the purpose of this trip?
I have been a primary school teacher for two years and I took a sabbatical year to do this research project abroad.
I would like to see if it is possible to transform schools into living places where the children do not have to sit on chairs all day answering to teachers’ instructions. Schools where the children learn freedom instead of lessons from textbooks. Schools where the children are given responsibilities and learn how to live together by creating the rules of their own communities. Schools where learning is not only vertical – from the teacher to the pupil – but horizontal, being therefore achieved with the cooperation between the children. In a word, schools which link the children’s educations with their lives.
Edit: after visiting about 20 schools, I decided to focus on democratic schools and the Freinet pedagogy (both linked in my analysis).
With this blog, my goal is also to participate in the democratization of alternative pedagogies which I think should not just be “alternative”.
• Which mode of travel?
In order to minimise the travel expenses and to have a travelling experience that seems more authentic to me, I will use hitchhiking for transport and Couchsurfing (a website that provides free accommodation with locals) and spontaneous accommodation as much as possible.
I won’t deny the financial argument about it but what I really like is the meetings that this mode of travel creates (and the adventures!). Hitchhiking and spontaneous accommodation allow immersions in local cultures which I think is a great alternative to mass tourism. As I never know who is going to be my next driver or host, I feel lucky to be able to meet such various people, often from very different cultural and social backgrounds.
I always find surprising that making connections with strangers and trusting people are nowadays considered so subversive and dangerous. Yet I feel like it is exactly what makes my trip interesting.
The reasons are also ecological: it seems more logical to me to travel in the unused space of a car than to use any other transport.
I am a woman, I hitchhike alone and I sleep at strangers’ places; I refuse to be scared of it. I give a few lessons about feminism to people when I need to. I don’t think the world is as dangerous as people think it is and my freedom is too precious for me to give up on it.
• How is it funded?
My main funding is my personal savings from my two working years (10.000 euros). I also created a crowdfunding project (now over but you can find it here). My budget is about 400-500 euros a month for two years.