A vision, education without walls.
Howard has said that the original concept behind this voyage in the far south of South America was to do something just for himself. The reasons for such extreme adventures are complex, but include a love of the outdoors, a way of “proving” himself to himself; and by doing much of his adventuring solo, a way of creating space for himself “far from the madding crowd”.
But he’s an educator, a College professor of long standing. Someone who loves working with bright young minds, loves opening their eyes to what the world can offer, and who loves to interact with children. He’s someone who wants to make the world a better place, and who sees the education of our young people as a way to achieve this goal.
The walls of the classroom keep the young folk gathered in a place where there are resources, where the teachers can interact and guide them, and where they can work without the world derailing them while they learn the skills that will serve them throughout their lives. But conventional education has some limits.
Those walls, can also keep the world out. The fixed windows can only present what is outside locally. That view does not really change much. There is so much more to the world that they simple can not experience from the classroom.
Howard began his re-engagement with teaching, by offering a 5th grade class in Cedar Rapids, Michigan by making a presentation about his boat, and his plans, and added in subject matter that he will be actually using on his voyage. He introduced biology, meteorology, geography and climatology to the lesson.
This first lesson was so successful that Howard, and sometimes myself, hasve gon on to present a number of lessons online. There are now two schools and a home school group in the trial group. Presenting lessons though SKYPE alowed us to interact directly with the students. We could take and answer questions in real time making it close to a real world experience for them.
The vision is to continue this by using his Iridium satellite phone as he explores the myriad islands of the Chilean South West. He will be introducing such subjects as the now extinct indigenous peoples of the area, speaking of their lives, their food sources, the terrain in which they lived and their social structures as well as enlarging on the previous lesson subjects.
The very long vision is to take the little boat on a special kind of world circumnavigation. We are now planning to ship her from one interesting and unique place to another, involving children in each country we visit. Using Southern Cross, the internet, and video; hundreds, perhaps thousands of children can see our, and their world, through this virtual classroom. The little ship Southern Cross travelling the world with her best friend Howard Rice, will provide an amazing new window for the classroom.
We’re in the early stages of this project. This current voyage is the first of many locations, and the schools and homeschools with whom we are interacting are just the first of many schools worldwide who will become involved.
Watch this space!
From the crew.