Tag Archives: worldschooling

Unschoolers Reclaiming Homeschooling Term

I’ve thought a lot about all the terms for homeschooling: unschooling, worldschooling, self-education, life learning, autodidact,  etc. I just read a post defending the term “unschooling”. Idzie’s a grown unschooler from Montreal who has a very cool blog called I’m Unschooled. Yes, I Can Write. She  makes some very interesting points in this post.

When I left school at 15 and started homeschooling I really insisted on using the term “unschooling”. I wanted everyone to know what I was doing was completely different than school. When people hear homeschooling they often think of kids sitting around the kitchen table doing worksheets with teacher Mom, a.k.a. “school at home”.

That was completely different from what I was doing: following my own passions teaching myself or at least directing who and what I would learn from, a.k.a. “unschooling”.

But over the years I’ve had mixed feelings about the term unschooling because as Idzie notes: “[Unschoolers who have issues with the term unschooling] say it’s too negative, or that it’s still using school to define their learning journey. Many unschoolers also say that they prefer to describe unschooling in a positive way to people, explaining what they do instead of what they don’t do.”

That was part of my motivation for coining the term “worldschooling”: I figured the whole world is my school. It’s descriptive and positive.

Still, Idzie, points out most people assume you still do all the school stuff in addition to learning from the world unless you say “unschooling”. Once you’ve indicated all the things you don’t do, you can then get into the things you do do.

I think it’s a good and realistic point.

Still, I’ve been thinking about the term homeschooling in reference to my term worldshooling: if worldschooling means the world is my school, then homeschooling could just mean my home is my school.

Then one could explain, “That doesn’t mean just my house is my school, that means everything that’s around me family, friends, libraries, parks, stores, markets, etc.”And that’s the truth: all homeschoolers learn and use resources from all around them.

Since everyone knows the term homeschooling and it is the legal term it is nice to be able to use it proudly by reclaiming and redefining it.

Then we can use whatever words and terms we like or find helpful in defining how we live and educate ourselves.

I love words!

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Filed under homeschooling, unschooling, words, worldschooling

Freedom, Fear, and Unschooling

After I left school and started unschooling,  I had freedom, I put my trust in myself, and  I did a lot of healing work. Still there was a fear inside me that took me years to be fully aware of and make the choice not to let it control my actions.

Recently I rediscovered a poem I wrote during my second year of homeschooling/unschooling in high school, when I was about 17 years old that surprisingly addresses this fear.

In the beginning of the poem I say:

But once the song’s over or the race is done
I’m just me again:
Scared shitless
Living heartless
Terrified of investing myself
In something or someone else

(You can read the whole thing here.)

I had trouble convincing people about unschooling, freedom, and their ability to direct their own lives partly because of my own emotional wounds regarding the subject. But I realized years later I also had a fear of being effective, fear of success, in talking to people about freedom and unschooling. There was an element of self-sabotage involved.

There was a part of me that knew it was possible I could very effective in talking about these subjects: I could help inspire people to leave school, or let their children leave school, have freedom, be trusted, and pursue their dreams.

That would be a truly wonderful thing and have so much meaning to me. For some reason, I think because of, not in spite of, that fact it’s also very scary. I’ve found that:

The more meaning something has to a person, the scarier it can be.

The more meaning something has the more painful the disappointments can be. You can feel pressure and new responsibility. With real success your life can change. And I always try to remember when I feel anxious:

Change, even if it’s good change, can be scary.

Writing these blog posts about unschooling, freedom, trust, diversity, and healing, then hearing how some have connected with them and been appreciative of them has had so much meaning to me! I’ve also definitely felt some fear and anxiety: I’ve heard from my toxic voice as my uncle Robert Gerzon calls it.

But the other thoughts that have come to my mind are:

“I love my life!” and “I feel free. I feel like writing is setting me free.”

More and more I’m letting parts of my true self come out and be heard. And it feels good! It feels like it’s taken years and epic journeys to get to this point, actually.

I guess it’s good to remember that when I feel disappointed or frustrated that there aren’t more people trying to learn and live in freedom or pursue what has meaning to them when they do have freedom: it takes time and is challenging.

Still, I hope that in talking about my own experiences it encourages others to make the choice to be free, the choice to use their freedom, the choice to follow what has meaning to them, and finally, the choice to do what has meaning to them regardless of fears that may stand in their way.

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Filed under adult unschoolers, change the world, freedom, homeschooling, lifestyle design, unschooling, worldschooling

Stranger in a Strange Land Newsletter: July 2009

Stranger in a Strange Land Newsletter: July 2009

(This is the newsletter I’ve written since 2002 when I started travelling the world. All of them are archived on my site now: www.eligerzon.com/newsletters.php. Soon my blog will be directly connected to my site and I’ll post the newsletters there as well as e-mailing them. To receive them by e-mail subscribe here. I hope you enjoy them!)

Worldschool Japan, new skin, and Tweet your light

Dearest Readers,
I’m leading a trip to Japan this November with five unschoolers from around the country! Worldschool Travels! I’ve gotten the deposits and bought the plane tickets: LA-Tokyo round trip.

The age range is the same as last time: 15-20 years old. I think we’re going to have a lot of fun, see many beautiful things, and eat some yummy food too! Oishii! Each of us may come back somewhat changed having grown and learned some new things. Each person may be challenged in different ways but:

“The universe never gives us more than we can handle. A lot of time it feels like it does! But it doesn’t.” This is what Ricardo Sierra, director of Hawk Circle (www.hawkcircle.com) wilderness education school, said to a group of us before each of us went on a solo vision quest for 48 hours in 2001.

(I wrote about that experience in my first speech “On the Importance of Whole Soul Safety or The Real Reason to Rise-Out of School”)

And I’ve been reminding myself of that quote recently!

Last year, I wrote a newsletter about another vision I had while in a sweat lodge in Mexico of a bird, a phoenix even, coming half way out of its shell: it was already half way there, so no matter how it moved it was going to break that shell and come out; even if part of it wanted to go back in!

(You can read that whole newsletter here.)

These days I feel like I am out of that shell. Sometimes I feel irritated for seemingly no reason: I think I’m still getting comfortable in my new skin! Every once in awhile I’ll think, “Who is this Eli Gerzon guy?”

I’ve been writing a lot for my blog and many new people are reading and commenting on it and I’ve been using Twitter and Facebook. It’s very exciting and satisfying because you can see all these people “friending” you, “following” you, visiting your site, reposting your stuff, etc. It’s fun and it’s easy to get a little obsessed!

Many people get annoyed with this new technology and I can too, but ultimately I think it can be a great tool.

The challenge is to use the tools to share with as many people as possible and yet remember it is about shining your light. Regardless of how many people visit your site what matters is how many people really read it and take it in. And that’s going to always be a mystery: I don’t think you can know that.

It can be significant when you see lots of people view a certain post, especially if people link to it and suggest it to others. And it can be very significant when you get feedback: that’s always kept me going with this newsletter.

When people write back to me after I send out a newsletter I always let out a sigh of relief: I usually open up a part of my heart in my writing and never know if it’s something that will connect with someone else’s heart.

But what’s really amazing is when I haven’t heard from someone in a couple years, or ever, and they contact me letting me know my writing has meant something to them. I realize I had no idea it was affecting them all that time and so there may be others out there who I haven’t heard from, or will never hear from, who benefit from what I write.

In the end, that’s what it’s about: you share your light and accept that the acknowledgement and knowledge of what you have done, may not come to you in the time or manner you’d like.

But nevertheless, if you really try to shine your light, you’ve already done it, and the universe appreciates it and gets brighter because of it.

With all that said here are some of my recent blog posts I do hope you enjoy them!:

John Steinbeck Quotes – Travels With Charley: In Search of America – Great quotes from a Steinbeck book I read while travelling around Central America this spring and often mirrored my own journey.

My Unschooling and Trust Journey – I talk about the difficult times when I left school to unschool and how I’ve really learned to trust myself.

Unschooling and Trust
– This is an explanation of the real philosophy behind unschooling: trusting people with freedom. Seems to be one of my most popular posts.

Unschooler Peter Kowalke Interview about college
– I posted this on my site before but now I added photos and an unschooler has already left a very interesting comment about her experience with college as well.

Links to successful unschoolers – Links to blogs and sites of successful grown unschoolers: please add more you know in the comments sections as many already have! I find it inspiring myself.

Ten tips for learning languages – Some tips for learning languages i.e. Tip #3 Have fun!, #10 BE the Language.

I talked about how magical it is to hear from people a few years down the line but I really do love to here from people now especially through comments so others can join in!

I also added some new stuff my page clearly explaining homeschooling, unschooling, and worldschooling.

And feel free to friend me on Facebook: www.facebook.com/worldschooler

And follow me on Twitter: www.twitter.com/worldschooler

In the world of… reality, I’m also speaking at the Northeast Unschooling Conference at the end of August, even if I was slow sending in my bio and there’s only my name and photo on the site!: www.northeastunschoolingconference.com

May you effectivley use your Tweets and blog posts to shine your light on the world dear readers!

All the best,
Eli

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Filed under growth, Stranger in a Strange Land Newsletters, travel stories, Worldschool Travels

Unschooler Peter Kowalke Interview about College

Peter Kowalke is a 30 year old lifelong homeschooler/unschooler and the creator of the Grown Without Schooling (2001) documentary about ten grown homeschoolers who “explore and candidly discuss the lasting influence home education has had on their lives” as it says at www.grownwithoutschooling.com. Peter Kowalke and the many adults he has interviewed in the documentary and his magazine columns followed the “unschooling” philosophy in which students follow their own interests without having to follow a set curriculum (click here to read more about the definitions of homeschooling and unschooling).

Many people would be surprised to hear that this works at all! As thousands of unschooling families around the U.S. and the world will tell you and show you, unschooling does work, often in truly wonderful ways. Unschoolers go on to many versions of success (check-out my post Links to Successful Unschoolers). But maybe because it is so out of the mainstream unschoolers concentrate mainly on the positive. Peter Kowalke’s Grown Without Schooling documentary was new in that it openly discussed the challenges of unschooling as well. Many unschoolers were relieved by this, others found the documentary too negative.

What many people may not realize is Peter was in the middle of a very traumatic experience with college when he made the documentary. Eventually he graduated with a degree in journalism but those wounds stayed with him. Many unschoolers and homeschoolers go on to graduate college and clearly not all have such difficulty as Peter Kowalke did. But maybe he was somewhat of a canary in a coal mine: more sensitive, aware, and out-spoken about problems that affect all college students on some level.

I think we can all, unschoolers, homeschoolers, everyone else can learn from Peter Kowalke’s experiences and observations. And hopefully parents and young adults will realize college is not always best for some and there is at least a choice, while Peter Kowalke felt like there wasn’t for him….


The Interview in His Own Words


“I didn’t even realize it was an option.”

My parents loved college and there was just sort of this expectation that I would go to college. I didn’t even realize it was an option. We were still in the phase of homeschooing when there weren’t enough people who seriously questioned this notion that the ultimate validation of homeschooling was to go back to school! The ultimate validation is whether or not I could get into college and do well in college! I didn’t critically understand what the problem was but I sort of felt in my heart that there was something wrong. I didn’t particularly want to go to college. I wasn’t ready for it. I didn’t know what I wanted to do, I knew that much. I sort of got roped into it and I lived under that fear. My whole life I saved money and it was like, “You’re saving for college.” Even as a kid college was this big bad thing looming down the horizon for me.

I went away to Hampshire College which kind of sounded unschoolerly. I didn’t know where else to go. By that time I knew that a traditional school didn’t make a lot of sense so I went to Hampshire when I was nineteen in 1998.

Grown unschooler/homeschooler Peter Kowalke: "Imprisoned by College?"

Grown unschooler/homeschooler Peter Kowalke: "Imprisoned by College?"

I didn’t know what I wanted to do.”

I didn’t know what I wanted to do but I was into reading a lot of lay quantum physics books: Hyperspace: A Scientific Odyssey Through Parallel Universes, Time Warps, and the 10th Dimension by Michio Kaku; books by Richard Feynman; pored over Scientific American, etc. Like a good unschooler, I was broad. I’m interested in weight lifting; I’m interested in writing; and here came the science side to me. That was real sexy and exciting stuff.

But at the end I knew I wasn’t a quantum physicist because there were people who knew so much more. I actually tried not to be involved with the campus publications because all through my teen years I was defined as the guy who ran that magazine: I ran a little magazine all throughout my teen years. That was my life. My identity was editor and chief. So I wanted to go to physics. But when I got to Hampshire I discovered: “Let’s face facts, you’re really a journalist. You love being an editor because that’s what you do. It’s not as sexy as physics but that’s only because you don’t know physics and you do know journalism. You do know what it’s like to be an editor, so yeah, there’s some bad sides. But there’s bad sides to physics too.” So the best thing to come out of Hampshire, was that I became the youngest person to be the editor and chief of the college newspaper. And despite my intentions to not get involved at all with campus publications!


“Every college out there, more or less, gives up its soul.”

But overall it didn’t work out. Part of it is I’m very reluctant to talk about the Hampshire thing. When there were injustices done I called the administration on it. I worked at the paper and saw the seedy underbelly of how the administration worked. That gave me pause. And some of the weirdness at Hampshire disillusioned me. At the same time I was starting to realize why I was always reluctant about college. And that was basically that college was a continuation of the school system: it’s K-16.

And just like 5th grade is vastly different than high school. College is very different than fifth grade but still the fundamental assumptions and underlying structure and philosophy of it is still the same even at a Hampshire because all colleges are accredited. And basically a college lives and dies by its accreditation. That means they have to do a certain dance for the agency that accredits them. Every college out there, more or less gives up its soul. That’s why you don’t see any viable accrediting alternatives to college at this point. So I saw that, that’s why I said “I’m gonna do it on my own.” And I continued to unschool through college.

Part of the reason I made the Grown Without Schooling documentary was I was trying to discover why college didn’t work for me. Is the system really as messed up as I think it is? I was trying to understand my homeschooling experience. It was an opportunity to soul search and be helpful for other folks. With the documentary and these grown unschooler columns I may be, on some level, trying to answer the question: How do you live as an unschooler in a society that believes in school? And will believe in school, I don’t believe in my lifetime I can change that.

“Unschool in a Schooled Society”

One big problem I’ve faced is figuring out how to live in this society that’s structured around the school mentality when I don’t believe in the school mentality. I’m not in a position to be completely self-sufficient and divorce myself from society. I wouldn’t have enough friends. I wouldn’t be able to make my own food, and housing and all those necessities. And I wouldn’t have the community. I can’t do it all myself, I’m very aware of that. So I have to live in society on some level. I have to figure out how to live in society but at the same time not give up what’s truly important to me, my life, and the philosophy that’s truly important to me. This has been a struggle for me for many years.

I wrote an article earlier about meeting the mainstream: how much to give into the culture and how much to stay true to yourself. I was very lost when I wrote that article. But now I’m found. I’m a magazine editor. And that’s what I’m good at because I was a magazine editor as an unschooling teenager; that’s the lifestyle I’m used to and expect and have conditioned myself for. So it’s nice to actually be doing that and to be doing it with an interesting magazine. I’m glad I’m working for a wine and beer and spirits magazine instead of an air conditioner magazine! Who wants to be the editor of air conditioner monthly! You know? I have a pretty sexy magazine and it’s something I’m interested in and I’m living true to myself. Things aren’t perfect. But it’s a lot better now than things have been since I was forced to go to college. I think I’m finally recovering from the major sidetracking that was college. College knocked me off of my trajectory in life and I’m just now getting back.


“Hopefully I’ve learned from that experience.”

I do believe society sort of forced me to do something that wasn’t healthy for me. Parts of it was very happy. Other parts it was hellish. And I really hope I never have to go through that again. I hope that I’ve learned from that experience. There weren’t enough people to guide me or maybe there were guides but I never ran across them or I didn’t know how to take their advice. But I had to stumble into that pit and deal with it. And hopefully I’ve learned so that I won’t have to do it again. Now the pessimist in me says I probably will step in the pit again! (Laughs) But we’ll see, maybe I’ll get lucky this time. Or maybe I’ll have somebody who will have been there and will help me avoid it by and large. That would be very, very nice. I don’t need to make that kind of mistake again myself. I don’t need to have another trauma that was as traumatic as the college years were for me. I would like that to be a once in a lifetime trauma.

The Hampshire experience really showed me that life is not all stars, that it can be tragic, and unexpected and cruel.

When you’re driving your car before you’ve gotten in an accident there’s a certain invulnerability that you have and then you get in an accident that’s bad. And then you think, “Oh my God: every time I drive I could actually get myself killed, or injured, or crash!” You realize that it can happen to you in fact. I think that has happened to me in my life so there is an element of tragicness. What I’ve tried to do is embrace life and say to myself, “There is tragedy: there could be tragedy at any moment. So enjoy life right now.” Don’t be a hedonist. Planning is very important, but it shouldn’t come at the cost of enjoying the moment. And it doesn’t take anything to enjoy the moment other than a positive outlook.

(Eli Gerzon again: I published this interview on my site before. But I decided to post it again on my new blog so more people could find it and comment and discuss the issues raised. And of course I can add pictures now!)

Grown unschoolers, left to right: Peter Kowalke, Eli Gerzon, and Peter Griffin (one of the subjects of the Grown Without Schooling documentary) hanging out after the Connecticut Homeschoolers Conference in fall, 2007.
Left to right: grown unschoolers Peter Kowalke, Eli Gerzon, and Peter Griffin (one of the subjects of the Grown Without Schooling documentary) hanging out after the Connecticut Homeschool Newtwork Conference in fall, 2007. Peter Kowalke spoke and led a grown homeschoolers panel discussion.
In this photo Peter Griffin flashes Quahog gang signs. Eli Gerzon tries to learn. Peter Kowalke thinks we're funny.
In this photo Peter Griffin flashes what must be Quahog gang signs. Eli Gerzon tries to learn. Peter Kowalke thinks we’re funny. We are unschoolers… and we’re cool. (Both photos by Mae Kowalke, Peter Kowalke’s wife, who he met while interviewing her for the Grown Without Schooling documentary!)

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Filed under adult unschoolers, entrepreneurship, grown unschoolers, homeschooling, unschooling, worldschooling

Ten Tips for Learning Languages

I’m going to write some tips for learning Japanese especially for the people going on the Worldschool Travels to Japan this year. But I’ll start with general tips on learning a foreign language.

I’ve become fairly fluent in German, Japanese, and Spanish mainly by travelling and living in the countries where they are spoken. From those experiences I think anyone can learn a foreign language they just need to:

  1. Jump in and be willing to make mistakes. To start with and pretty much every step of the way you’re going to need to just go and use the language if you want to learn and enjoy it. You are going to make mistakes: that’s one of the big ways we learn anything. The great news is that most native speaker will really appreciate that you are putting in the effort to learn their language and they’ll be very supportive.
    And even though you will make mistakes you need to…
  2. Be Confident. I remember when I learned my first Japanese words many years ago I thought I must be missing something, I must not be saying this right: but I was! Foreign languages are at first totally mysterious and we may imagine it’s not possible to learn it because we’re not a native speaker.
    While you might not ever have a perfect accent or get everything, you can definitely become fluent enough to understand, be understood, and even enjoy inside jokes! Which brings me to the next tip:
  3. Have fun! Even if you do need to learn a language for work or school, you’re going to find it a lot easier to learn if you make sure to have some fun with the language. The reason you’re usually using your native language is you enjoy it and are having fun with it: it can be the same with learning a new language. Very much related to that…
  4. Remember it’s about connectin’ not about perfectin’. People are way more interested in connecting and getting the general idea of what you’re saying than they are in correcting or judging whether you’ve said something grammatically correct. You can really interrupt the flow of a nice conversation by worrying too much about perfection.
  5. Learn about the culture. Read about the history of the country or countries from whence the language came. Watch movies. Listen to music. You can learn a lot of language directly from those sources and you’ll just be aware of the culture, which is polite, helps you understand the context of the language, makes it more meaningful, and motivates you overall.
  6. Travel to the country. Of course this is my favorite bit of advice. When you’re in the country it helps with all these other tips. You’re surrounded by the language and given the opportunity and forced to learn. You can learn more of the language in a couple days in a country than months in a classroom.
  7. Surround yourself with the language in different settings. If you’re not in the country you can still find communities and even if you are in the country make sure to get out, away from people who speak English! Go to the markets, volunteer, hang out in the park, etc. Each place offers new words and phrases to learn enjoyably.
  8. Go to school. That’s right I said it! At the very least it’s a new setting to learn new words! But really people on the street don’t usually want to correct you and teacher/tutors will, which can be very helpful. A little bit from school or books can go a long way when you combine it with real world experience. But I’m talking short term school, tutoring, or group learning: a few months in a classroom to me seems a waste of time, money, and soul.
  9. Make friends. Okay I’m not suggesting befriending people just because they speak the language and people can get annoyed if you keep asking them language questions. But people often do want to help you learn and making friends with people can help with all these other tips: have fun, learn about the culture, gain confidence, speak in different settings, and this last one:
  10. Be the language. Language is not just about the words and grammar or even accents. Every language has a spirit. (But at the very least, please try to develop a bit of an accent. Many English speakers will speak a foreign language with a complete [usually] American accent.) Really, you’ll notice a  bilingual person will often seem like two different people depending on which language they are speaking.

Don’t lose yourself and be phoney.  Just let go to some extent and be influenced by the language and culture. You need to engage the native speakers where they’re coming from rather than expect them to meet you.

For example, you can’t really speak Spanish “correctly” without being friendly, welcoming, and playful, even if you’re not that way in your native language! To speak Japanese “right” you have to be very polite, appreciative, quick to laugh and quick to bow.

If you can do those things you can connect with new people in a new way you couldn’t have before. That’s one of the most exciting, valuable, and wonderful things in the world. And you’ll be able to import the riches you find from those connections into your own language and community.

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Filed under language learning, languages, linguistics, unschooling, worldschooling

Earning Your Own Money for Travel

When I send out info about the Worldschool Trip to Japan I let the young adults coming on the trip know  I have tips and I’m available for coaching on how to raise your own money for the trip because I realize $3600 (plus about $1000 in daily expenses) is a lot of money for people and also I feel learning to earn your own money is itself a very valuable and empowering experience and an important part of a good education for anyone including homeschoolers, unschoolers, and worldschoolers.

First off I want to say that it is very doable: you can raise thousands of dollars for travelling or any other dreams you have regardless of your age and the state of the economy.


Real Life Examples

Hannah is a homeschooler/unschooler/worldschooler who was fifteen last year when she went on my first Worldschool Trip to Mexico in October. She earned all the money for the it herself by doing odd jobs. She told me: “I raised 3,000 USD from July-September, and hell if I can do that at my age with my inexperienced background anyone can do it.” Well said!

This year she’s also going on the Worldschool Japan trip and said, “Even though there was a time after I stopped working full time for Kristen [a mother of two young children Hannah helped take care of] that I did hit a bit of a road block, I’m getting back on my feet now, and with a a little bit of effort am able to find work even in this economy.”

Hannah did all sorts of odd jobs to raise that money but started concentrating on taking care of children and the elderly. I also earned the money for my first travels around Europe at the age of 18 by doing all sorts of odd jobs for neighbors and homeschooling families in the area. I started enjoying the landscaping work the most and have earned a living with that work for the last several years, earning a good reputation in the area and slowly raising my rates as I gained more experience and confidence.

So my suggestion to young adults is to reach out to your community on e-mail lists and message boards and offer to do any sort of odd jobs. People have all sorts of things they need done around the house and are very happy to pay someone to get the darn thing done. It’s really that simple. You’ll earn money, learn a lot, and it may even develop into a way to earn your livelihood.

Of course, there’s also creating products and crafts and selling them: that way you can reach out to a national or even international audience. You can sell at conference, fairs and gatherings and through sites like www.etsy.com.

As far as odd jobs you can: mow lawns, babysit, do garden work, organize, clear clutter, work on cars, walk dogs, paint, clean houses, etc.  For this type of work if you don’t have any real experience the minimum wage is $10/hour or $15/hour. That’s the minimum!  A lot of this is having the confidence to realize what you’re doing is valuable and you deserve the money. Once you get more experience or already have a special skill, like computer or photography work, minimum wage is $20/hour or $30/hour.

More about the money in a bit, first about the work:

When people contact you through phone or e-mail respond promptly and answer their questions as best you can: be honest about what you can and cannot do. But if you are charging only $10 or $15/hour it’s perfectly fine to do a job you have no experience with. Just listen to their instructions and while you’re working make sure to keep asking questions when you’re unsure of anything.

Show up on time, and be reliable. Or at least let them know if you’ll be late. People go through such hassle waiting to hear back from companies and waiting for them to show up: if you’re just available, reliable, and then get the job done they will love you!


People Want to Support You:

  • It helps if you are reaching out to a community that you have a connection with: your local town, homeschoolers, unschoolers, your religious community, your sports community, etc. People want to help those they feel connected to. Even if you haven’t been active in the community BECOME active, respond on the lists and messages boards, go to events and gatherings. (If you’re only doing it for money and actually can’t stand the group it probably won’t work! But becoming a little more involved with a group you like anyway is a great idea.)
  • It helps if you let people know you’re raising money for a lifelong dream of yours: travelling to Japan, a country you’ve been fascinated with for years, or whatever the case may be. Who wouldn’t like to support that?
  • It helps that you’re a young adult taking the initiative to earn your own money. People are excited to see that and support it. Of course, the same goes for if you’re an adult who got tired of your old office job and is now pursuing a more independent life. People want to support that too.

Of course, that stuff only takes you so far: in the end what’s most important is you’re getting something done for people at a reasonable price that they couldn’t or wouldn’t do themselves. Speaking of a reasonable price:

Look at How Much Other People are Charging for the Same Service and Provide a Better Price

  • Professional landscapers can charge anywhere from $30-$60/hour. If you charge $10 0r $15/hour to weed their garden and trim bushes, even if you’re slower than the pros, you’re giving them a really good deal. And you have to charge at the very least $20 to mow someone’s lawn. If it’s a large lawn $30-$50. I friend of mine who teaches in Florida and does some lawn mowing on the side realized he could earn more money just mowing lawns full time than he does as a teacher. Maybe that’s not that surprising to people but still.
  • Professional organizers charge up from $50 or $60/hour. If you’ve always been good at organizing things and will charge less than $30/hour that’s a wonderful deal.
  • As far as computers the Geek Squad charges hundreds of dollars to go to someone’s home and just clean out their computer for a few hours: Geek Squad Virus and Spyware Removal. If you’re the person your family and friends go to when they have computer trouble you could charge $50 or $100 to clean out other people’s computers and that would be a great deal and service for them. Most people really need their computers and really have no idea how they work or how to take care of them. Come to their rescue!
  • Someone told me a story of their friends hiring a photographer for their wedding for $2000. The photos were so bad they couldn’t even use them but they begrudgingly paid him anyway. If you’ve had a passion for photography and can put some care into doing a good job, charge $500 and again, people will love you.

As you gain more confidence and experience you’ll be able to charge closer to what the pros charge. The fact is working for yourself is simply more efficient: the guy working for the Geek Squad doesn’t get all that money for himself, most of it goes to the company. You are the company, so all of it goes to you, and you’re able to earn more and charge the client less for a more personal service.

Aside from the money, being your own boss gives such confidence, empowerment, flexibility and freedom. So it’s too bad it’s not more common. But I think it’s mostly mental blocks stopping young people from earning their own money and anyone starting their own business. Most of us are used to showing up and following instructions at school, the office, or the work site. And for unschoolers who don’t have to follow instructions, they also don’t usually have to earn their own money! So it’s new for them too.

Once we are able to start earning our own money it’s a wonderful thing itself and can make possible what I think is THE most wonderful thing: travelling and experiencing the world!

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Filed under entrepreneurship, financial independence, financing world travel, lifestyle design, young people earning their own money

First week in Honduras: San Pedro Sula, Tela, and Utila

It’s been over a week since I last posted and since I’ve been in Honduras. I was in Copan for one night to see the ruins in 2006 but otherwise this was my first real time here. I was in San Pedro Sula for one night and Tela on the Caribbean coast for about a week. Right now I’m writing from Utila, the smallest of the three main Bay Islands that include Roatan and Guanaja off the coast of Honduras.

Utila is known for being the best place in the world to learn scuba diving and to swim with whale sharks. So I’m not sure what I’m doing here! Maybe I’ll take a course and do it or I might just snorkel around the reefs. Right now I’m just using it as a relaxing cheap place to chill, write, and collect my thoughts.

I’m still trying to figure-out how to use this blog. It’s a new medium with advantages and disadvantages and I’m trying to find my voice. How much detail do I go into about my time in San Pedro Sula or Tela?

Should I talk about how the food is surprisingly good? How the tortillas in northern Honduras are usually made from wheat and cooked in a way that makes them taste more like delicious nan from India? They’re called baleadas but should I talk more about the cheap ones you buy on the street like the ones I’ve been living off of in Utila that include just beans, cheese, and maybe some onions?

But I have to mention the one I had at a restaurant in the Guamilito Market in San Pedro Sula where you could add all sorts of things like meat and cream and how in my baleada I had a sweet fried plantain with some cream on the side and delicious steamed broccoli and cauliflower, and some beets.

Baleadas with broccoli, cauliflower, beets, cream and sweet fried plantain at Guamalito Market in San Pedro Sula, Honduras.

Baleadas with broccoli, cauliflower, beets, cream and sweet fried plantain at Guamalito Market in San Pedro Sula, Honduras.

I’d like to mention two people I’d normally avoid but enjoyed talking to while eating that baleada: a somewhat incoherent old man and then an Evangelical preacher. The preacher used such familiar terms that it was very easy to understand his Spanish. About all I understood from the old man was that he used to build houses with concrete blocks and he was impressed when I said I was a landscaper/gardener.

In that back area of the mostly touristy market there were also many women making (corn) tortillas and other little shops for locals.

Making tortillas at the back of the Guamilito Market in San Pedro Sula, Honduras

Making tortillas at the back of the Guamilito Market in San Pedro Sula, Honduras

Visiting local markets is always one of my favorite parts of travelling and San Pedro Sula was no exception.

The very American "City Mall" in San Pedro Sula, Honduras.

The "very American" City Mall in San Pedro Sula, Honduras.

At the same time I really enjoyed staying in my own room with Wi-Fi at Los Molinos B&B (contact them at  in a safe, clean, rich suburban neighborhood of San Pedro Sula down the street from the very American “City Mall”.

Well, there’s a lot more to mention from Tela and Utila but I’ll save it for the next posts!

And to stay at Los Molinos B&B in San Pedro Sula contact them here (in Spanish or English): losmolinos_sps@yahoo.com.

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Filed under travel stories, worldschooling