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My blog has moved to eligerzon.com/blog!

My WordPress blog and my website www.eligerzon.com have merged together! All the content form my eligerzon.wordpress.com blog, including comments and everything, can be found now be found at: www.eligerzon.com/blog

You can go to directly to that address or just go anywhere on the eligerzon.com site and click on the new “Blog” tab in the middle of the other tabs.

If you’ve been kind enough to link to my old blog address or have my feed in your blogroll it’d be awesome if you could change the feed/address to: eligerzon.com/blog

Also, you can still see my Twitter updates on the top left by visiting the blog. I usually do several Tweets a day with interesting quotes and new cool links I’ve found, usually unschooling related but many other subjects as well.

I was very skeptical about Twitter for awhile and I still have mixed feelings talking about it! But I have found it’s great for sharing quotes and cool links and much better than Facebook for connecting with new people with common interests: met some great people through it.

And I have to give credit: after a bad of experience with hiring some random person from over seas, I hired a friend from overseas: Alaric King. He did a great job copying the original design and does amazing graphic, video, and web work (also designed my past travel brochures): http://www.alaricking.co.uk.

Perry Kroll an old grown unschooler friend of mine who designed the original site and changed the tabs on to include “Blog”. Perry does wonderful graphic, video, and web work as well: http://www.studiofreeradical.com.

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An unschooler/worldschooler goes to Spanish school

Earlier this week on a whim I decided to post my “status” on Facebook as: “Eli Gerzon is taking a Spanish class: maybe he’s been overreacting about this whole school thing the last 10 years. That got a surprising number of comments! Most were from people not in the unschooling scene (I wonder if my unschooling friends were worried) but my good friend Peter Kowalke (creator of the documentary Grown Without Schooling) seemed to get I was pretty much joking when he simply wrote: “Wait for it…”

Well, here it is….

Honestly, this wasn’t school as we usually think of it, so I wasn’t planning on comparing it to school in general but I actually gained some real insights. I also learned a ton of Spanish. My world of Spanish has grown so much and I have so much more confidence and appreciation for the language. I’m really happy about it actually!

But about that whole unschooler “overreacting to school” thing….

I found out about unschooling almost exactly 10 years ago. Honestly, every couple years I have thought about school again, wondered if I was “overreacting”: “Maybe I was just being too sensitive. I love learning and so many wonderful, intelligent people view school as a good thing.”

Then I’ll give school another try and I’ll remember: I’ve definitely been too arguementative and just a jerk about the subject of school (I wrote about that in an article about why I left school) but that does’t change the fact that school is not really about learning.

(It’s like that old addage: “Just because I’m paranoid doesn’t mean they’re not after me.”)

I don’t know exactly what school is about.

I know there’s fear, control, judgement, and superficiality involved: school controls you with the fear of being judged by superficial indications of your worth. It seems like the primary motivation is fear of being judged poorly and a desire to be judged well on such accomplishments as worksheets, tests, and ultimately grades and degrees.

Still, I wanted to improve my Spanish after only learning from my travels around Mexico and Guatemala and I thought I’d give this school a try.

Like I said I learned a ton. But there was a significant difference between Academia Antigüeña de Español and most other schools,

Academia Antigüeña de Español: the Spanish school I went to this past week in Antigua, Guatemala.

Academia Antigüeña de Español: the Spanish school I went to this past week in Antigua, Guatemala.

which the charming owner, Julio, made clear in his original sales pitch: “The school adapts to the student, the student doesn’t adapt to the school.” He said that after I said I only wanted lessons 2 hours/day for 4 days rather than the usual 4 hours/day for 5 days.

The first two hour lesson with my teacher, Elsi Romanti Guzman Blanco, was new, exciting, and fun. In fact, I decided to do lessons 4 hours/day after all.

By the end of that first 4 hours of drills and worksheets I disliked the Spanish language for the first time in my life. She would drill me on something she showed me a few seconds before and I would have no idea. My mind was mush and I had no motivation.

I didn’t do any of the homework she had given me and it was clear I wasn’t motivated during the next lesson. She asked me what was wrong. So I explained to her, in Spanish, about my feelings and basically about unschooling.

I’ll write about how all that went in the next post. But I’ll be writing to you from another country because I’m leaving Antigua at 4am tomorrow morning for Honduras!

Thanks for reading,

Eli

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View of Antigua from a police motorcycle

I mentioned in the last post how it’s difficult to fit everything into a monthly travel newsletter. I arrived in Guatemala on Wednesday night, have been here for only four days and I can’t fit it all in this post, so I’ll spread it out in the next few.  Honestly, I haven’t exactly been seeking out excitement but sometimes you can’t help it when you travel.

For example I was looking for pretty simple activity when I ended up ridding on the back of a police motorcycle up a steep winding mountain road to get an amazing view of Antigua at “La Cruz”. Last time I was in Antigua I went to the police station and, so as to avoid getting mugged, they lead a large group on a nice short hike up a mountain to this view point.

This time Mathew, an English guy from my hostel, and I were directed to a different police station on the opposite side of Antigua where they had us jump on the back of their motorcycles. They drove us all through the cobble stoned streets of Antigua and then zoomed right past the hiking trail and up a road to the same spot as before:

View of Antigua from Cerro de la Cruz.

View of Antigua from Cerro de la Cruz.

Eli at Cerro de la Cruz with a view of Antigua and cloud enshrouded Volcàn Agua.

Eli at Cerro de la Cruz with a view of Antigua and cloud enshrouded Volcàn Agua.

La Merced Church and the arch in Antigua, Guatemala.

La Merced Church and the arch in Antigua, Guatemala.

It was amazing and it was very kind of them to do that specially for us but I had mixed feelings! It definitely wasn’t the safest thing to do without a helmet. And I don’t have great associations about riding on the back of police motorcycles up and down mountains in Latin American countries. But as you can see in one of these photos part of me was definitely having a good time!

Eli (the one in the light blue shirt) on the back of motorcycle with Antigua police escorts/travel guides.

Eli (the one in the light blue shirt) on the back of motorcycle with Antigua police escorts/travel guides.

Then they offered to take us further up to another view point. There we could see the town of Jocotenange next to Antigua. They told us that there is a festival and religious procession that starts there and ends up in Antigua. I knew that during Semana Santa (“Holy Week” leading up to Easter) they laid out these amazing “alfombra” sculptures on the road that a large religious procession then walks over. But I didn’t realize they do them on the Sundays leading up to Easter as well!

I’ve also been hearing and thinking a lot about the issue of safety in Guatemala. It’s so strange to contrast some terrible stories I hear with the unbelievable beauty, creativity, and fun I saw at the the pre-Semana Santa celebration in my next posts. I do think I’ll be totally safe, I have no problem flying home or going to another country if I don’t feel safe.

Again, as contrast to that ominousness here are some lovely photos from around Antigua:

The Parque Central in the center of Antigua, Guatemala in full bloom.

The Parque Central in the center of Antigua, Guatemala in full bloom.

School kids, Mayan women in traditional dress, street vendors, and others in the sunny Parque Central, Antigua, Guatemala.

School kids, Mayan women in traditional dress, street vendors, and others in the sunny Parque Central, Antigua, Guatemala.

View of Volcàn Agua from the streets of Antigua: one of the three volcanoes around Antigua (it's inactive and directly due south of the city).

View of Volcàn Agua from the streets of Antigua: one of the three volcanoes around Antigua (it's inactive and directly due south of the city).

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In Antigua, Guatemala: my first post!

I’ve begun another journey around Central America: I landed in Guatemala City Airport at 9pm on Wednesday night and am now writing from my hostel in Antigua. I’ll be in the area for the next two months: not coming back until winter’s really over this time!

I’ve thought about writing a blog for years. I’ve had my Stranger in a Strange Land Newsletter, but that’s only once a month at most.

Honestly, I’ve been wary of starting a blog because I’ve had mixed feelings about the medium. Blogs are first drafts. They aren’t very edited: what you see is what you get and you get A LOT from some. I think the bottom line is whether or not you actually have something to say in a post. I really don’t want to waste my readers’ time or mine for that matter: I don’t want blogging about my experiences to get in the way of experiencing them.

But recording ones experiences can definitely enhance them, as my newsletters have for me, and there have been so many stories I’ve wanted to share over the years but didn’t have room for in my newsletter. And I do have a lot to say about education, unschooling, worldschooling, and travel and hopefully this will be a way for me to connect with people interested in what I have to say. I’ll also write about languages I’m learning because that’s a major passion of mine even before I started travelling.

A good thing about blogs is I can mark the topics that are covered in each entry. So if you’re interested in education and travel but not language, or language and travel but not education, then you can choose entries accordingly.

I’ll definitely talk about the unschooling scene. It’s meant so much to me to speak at these huge unschooling gatherings around the U.S. these last few years and meet so many unschoolers: there were 700+ people at gatherings I went to in Texas, Massachusetts, North Carolina, and Ohio. I think it’s a really exciting time for unschooling.

I also hope I can to speak to people who don’t like the term or the scene of “unschooling” but do support people, young and old, being empowered, informed, and free. I’ve had my issues with the term unschooling and the application of unschooling but I think in the end it’s one part of a whole education and whole life that includes worldschooling, homeschooling, unschooling, and even some school. I’ll explain what I mean by all that later!

This is getting to be long for a blog post and I haven’t even gotten to any stories of Guatemala! Instead, I’ll just share some photos from around the beautiful colonial city of Antigua, Guatemala and get to the stories in the next post.

Take care,

Eli

Breakfast at Yellow House hostel in Antigua
Parque Central in Antigua in full bloom.

Parque Central in Antigua in full bloom.

Beauty contest winner at the head of a parade leaving the Parque Central in Antigua.

Beauty contest winner at the head of a parade leaving the Parque Central in Antigua.

Burger King and Queen in Antigua parade.

Burger King and Queen in Antigua parade.

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