We're planning to move off the power grid, hopefully sometime this year and I've been wondering how this will affect our home education, most of which presently takes place on computers. We will still have computers, of course, and electricity but - and I haven't broken this to the children yet in so many words - I don't think
this will be available absolutely all of the time. Our power supplies will no longer be limitless - they'll have to be thought about and planned for.
I think this is a good thing. (Thinking about anything
is a good thing, right?) Also, in recent weeks we've had the power off here to do various wiring jobs. It was off for hours on Sunday, and the children played a board game together.
There is, of course, no specific reason for a board game to have any more or less educational value than a computer game. In fact, I can think of many ways in which they don't. But the board games rarely come out when the computers are available, so maybe that in itself says something about their relative attractions.
The thing is - and yes, I did watch The Matrix
again this week - there is a whole real world outside of computers. There really is. I keep mentioning it to the kids, but they just look at me doubtfully. And I keep asking them whether they want to take the blue pill, or the red pill?
And they tell me to just go and get some more coffee, for goodness' sake Mum.
know what I mean. Hmmm, I can see this is a somewhat recurrent theme
for me as well. I won't say all of that again here, since I said it there already.
So, are we going off-grid because I think it will be educationally good for the children? (It already has been that: we now know a lot more about electricity than we did 6 months ago. And I get the feeling this will be an exponential curve.) No, of course not. I am devoted to facilitating their learning 24/7, but not quite to that extent. And it's hardly self-directed learning, to be dragged away from your PC and forced to understand how a solar panel works so that you can fix it when it breaks.
No, it's a mutual decision the teens and I made when we were discussing how they wanted to start their adult lives, which is basically along the same lines as they've spend most of their pre-adult lives: free-range. No major financial commitments. They want to be able to earn money as and when they want to. They don't want to be slaves to the system. (At this point I said a quiet, internal "YES!" because I suddenly realised that had been my only ambition for them. Until then I didn't think I had any ambitions for them - them being separate people to me and all.. But maybe it's impossible to parent without hoping for something
for one's children?)
Anyway, to achieve (perpetuate) this freedom they need to live mortgage-free and largely bill-free. I don't think it will be possible to eliminate all the bills and we'll certainly still need money for food, but we're planning to reduce our outgoings as much as possible. This, we think, will require a new house-build - hence me reading the Straw Bale
book, and planning this in itself is raising a lot of
I'm more than happy to sell our family home to achieve this. We'll all benefit from the change, not just the teens. And I don't subscribe to the theory that children become somehow less family members once they reach the age of 18.
But I draw the line at washing their dirty kitchenware for the rest of my life. They're having separate cooking areas, which will be out of my line of vision. Then I think we can live under the same roof without problems until they're good and ready to do something different.