Freedom and straying off the beaten path

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It’s Independence Day in the USA today, a day when its citizens celebrate and think about their freedom and what it means to them.

I’m actually rather ashamed that I never knew, until I was a young adult, anything about the war of independence and my own country’s role in that.  How could I not know that the British were part of it?  I remember watching The Patriot and stating stupidly that I didn’t know the British ruled America. That was the tip of a very large iceberg that was my woefully inadequate knowledge of history, world events and our role in it.   It also made me question my education – lots!

History is one of our favourite things in our family, perhaps it’s because I probably feel like I am learning from scratch alongside my kids.  I also think it is hugely important to know how events lead on to other things and how the history even shapes the world today.  History is given very little importance in school here in the UK and I think that is such a shame (although they’d probably kill the enjoyment of it!)  My kids are now verging on knowing way more than me, they come out with huge amounts of facts and opinions about historical figures (M really likes Winston Churchill despite having a grandfather who despises him – I really respect that he has made his own decision about this person) and generally soak in loads.

(Just revisiting this post after our travel – we managed so many historical trips over the years while kids were growing up and I’m pleased to say that out historical knowledge got so much better (!!!) – from ww2 sites in London, Normandy beaches, and exploring the ancient sites in England and Scotland.)

I have freedom to thank for this.

When my children were toddlers I had a long hard look at the education system in our area and was not completely happy with it.  I was living proof that you could come out of school with qualifications and actually still know very little about life.  I wanted more for my kids.  I eventually found out about Home Education and we started down a path less taken.  In the UK home ed is completely legal and a valid choice for many parents and is becoming more popular by the day.  I can’t believe how our lives have been changed by this choice we took.

  • We are free to choose how to educate, whether that includes school or not.
  • We are free to learn about any subject that takes our fancy and we do.
  • We are free to choose what is important to us and what is not – National Curriculum anyone?
  • We are free to choose whether we want to do exams or not in the future (still pondering that one)

By using this freedom to choose how to educate our kids – in school or otherwise – we have come across another fantastic opportunity.  Travel.  I have wanted to travel for so long and I have thought about how to do it endlessly, but really knowing that we can educate just as we have done for the last 11 years has made the decision so much easier.  Also knowing that we have stepped off the beaten track once, we can do it again.

I am so thankful that I live in a country that allows me the freedom to explore my choices, to enable me to try out home education and see if it works, and which in turn then allows us to follow another path and see if that works for us.  It takes work, it takes mad decisions, it takes some thinking ‘outside of the box’, but if we want to do it, we can.

Not everything about our country is great at the moment.  Just one instance is that recently there have been rumblings about our freedom to educate as we currently do that thankfully have been put back, for now, but it took a fair bit of fighting.  In writing this I did start to wonder if I was being naive for thinking we are free, but for now, I mostly do still feel it.

I hope we will never lose our freedom (said in the best Mel Gibson Scottish accent 😉 ) and the opportunities that come from it.

This is part of a group writing post, many fellow travel bloggers have been writing about what freedom means to them.  Below is a list, please think about having a browse round as there are some fab blogs out there!

Let Freedom Ring – The Nomadic Family

Are we free? – Living Differently

The Freedom to Choose – Living Outside of the Box

Living a Free and Meaningful Life – Flashpacker Family

Freedom to Roam – Minor Diversion

What is Freedom? – Family on Bikes

Do you know what Freedom is?– Bohemian Travelers

Photo of author

Kirsty Bartholomew

Kirsty has been getting lost around the world for over 30 years and writing about it for 10 of those. She loves to explore the UK and Europe and has a particular penchant for historical sites.

6 thoughts on “Freedom and straying off the beaten path”

  1. Wonderful! Luckily in high school I had a fabulous history teacher and so my love of it started early. I am so grateful for that. The freedom to teach how we want is hugely important and after living in a few countries that do not allow it I am reminded to be grateful!

  2. We felt the same way when we started learning about the history of WWII in Thailand. We felt that our knowledge was woefully inadequate and went out of our way to learn more on the subject. We decided that history and learning was going to be an important part of travels from know on – not just pleasure seeking!

    My husband’s Aunt is actually married to Winston Churchill’s grandson! So I will reserve judgement on that topic!!

    Being a NZer, I don’t mind that we’re somewhat under the British influence. It’s nice to have a connection to another nation. I don’t think it impacts on my freedom in anyway. In fact it probably gives me more! It’s nice to know that one of the big guys is looking out for you. If there isn’t a NZ embassy somewhere I can call on the Brits for help. I’m allowed to spend a fair bit of time in Britain and live there if I want. (My husband is English and so was my Grandfather).

    I wonder what the US would be like today if the hadn’t revolted against the British?

  3. Excellent! Yes, we know what freedom is, it’s homeschooling, we do it in Australia. Very interesting to hear about it in the UK as we will probably come home some day.

  4. Thanks for all the fantastic comments.

    Mary – I wanted to study history at high school, started and it was all about the russian revolution which I knew nothing about! Even how it related to what I did know about. I left the class soon after 🙁

    Bethanay – good question about the US and what it would be like. Our country has had such an effect on so many, it’s hard to imagine!

    Alyson – nice to hear from you. Education is such a big thing, having freedom when it comes down to it is actually pretty amazing.

  5. I love this post – freedom is such a luxury, it’s overwhelming to think of how many people in this world do not have freedom like we know it. So savor it and explore.


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