“The only thing that interferes with my learning is my education.”   :Albert Einstein

We’re still several months off from even moving aboard the Sea Shanti. While tearing up floorboards and pulling down paneling, Jack discovered that the boat already had about a million residents: termites. Yech. Just one more reason that he’s doing the boat repair, and I’m doing literally anything else. At this point, that means making as much money as is humanly possible and thinking about all of the things that we’ll need to be prepared for as we upset the applecart of our lives.

One of those things is Fain’s larnin’. That’s hillbilly for edumacatin’. Did I mention I have a banjo?

Initially, I was gung-ho about some of the online distance learning programs I’d read about in Voyaging with Kids, a really cool book written by several cruising parents together. If you’re interested, a few of the top options I looked into were:

But somewhere in the back of my mind, the idea of developing the curriculum myself was already taking root.

You see, before I was a chill copywriter with a wonderful husband/BFF living a carefree life, I was a stressed out single mom and teacher in North Carolina, the state that hates teachers.* And I was a pretty freaking good teacher. I’m not tooting my horn. It’s a fact. I won awards for my badass teaching skills. OK. Maybe I’m tooting my horn.

I ran the idea by Jack, and he made a few sensible rebuttals, but ultimately I won him over with my logical arguments and supporting evidence, which happen to be a couple of the skills listed on the Common Core 8th Grade Standards for ELA. BOOM.

Since all of my pending projects are still pending, I took the day to start looking through the Common Core, which had just come out when I was leaving public school. It’ll give me an idea of the skills and knowledge that Fain should be developing at his age level.

Then, I’m gonna rip it apart, get it all hopped up on goofballs, and put it back together in some weird, entirely experimental, conceivably un-educational way. In other words, I’m learning the Common Core for the same reason I learned writing fundamentals – to twist them to my deviant purposes while breaking as many rules as possible without losing impact.

As a rule, I avoid using super as an adjective because I’m not in my twenties, but I gotta tell you: I. Am. Super. Stoked.

I’ve got the groundwork laid out for the first six months already – at least for ELA. But most of the resources I’m choosing will allow us to cover multiple subjects at once while teaching some practical life skills.

I’m going to slowly start rolling out my thinking on this process just in case you’re someone considering developing your own curriculum or just generally interested in what that might look like in the hands of a hippie with a banjo and a sailboat. I’ll try not to inundate you, oh doting imaginary readers.

*North Carolina didn’t always hate teachers. It used to have a very progressive state government that made teaching there totally rad. For instance, North Carolina granted me a Teaching Fellows scholarship that gave me a full ride to college in exchange for a few years in the classroom, and they had this wicked awesome program called NCCAT, which was like summer camp for teachers (with wine). I don’t think they do things like that anymore because I guess you’ve got to really break someone’s soul to get them to work 80 hours a week for dried beans.