Friday, February 08, 2008

Home ed off-grid

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.

But I 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 problems learning opportunities.

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.


Blogger Lisa G said...

I'm really intrigued and more than a little impressed by your plans to live off grid and more or less out of reach of 'the man'.I hope you keep us updated regularly with your progress. I'm not sure I could contemplate going off grid right now but I would like to live a life with less bills. I've recently returned to work two days a week and I'm fed up of the complete futility of what I do and how it interferes with home ed and life really, even if it is comparatively well paid - I would like to find work that is more in keeping with 'right livelihood' even if the pay is little or non-existent.

11:44 am, February 08, 2008  
Blogger Gill said...

Hi Lisa,

Be impressed when (if) it actually happens! The plan-making is the easy bit, I've no doubt.

I'm not underestimating the upheaval and the inconvenience involved - not to mention the various risks, hurdles and pitfalls on the way from here to there.

But we've got to try, because we don't stand a chance at all if we don't.

Sorry to hear about your work thing. I really do sympathise. I think one of the major unspoken scandals in this country is the price of land and housing, which means so many people are stuck doing things they don't want to do. I hope this is solveable, because I don't think it's sustainable.

12:10 pm, February 08, 2008  
Blogger Jax said...

ring membership activated, welcome aboard!

12:10 pm, February 08, 2008  
Blogger Gill said...

Thanks Jax :-)

12:18 pm, February 08, 2008  
Blogger grit said...

grit is deeply impressed by such lifestyle direction ... and we thought we were cool saying no to a plastic bag in the Co-op.

8:32 pm, February 09, 2008  
Blogger Gill said...

LOL Grit. No, that's much more impressive. You actually remember to take your own bag?? *Bows down to your organisational skills.* I might be able to move off-grid, but I don't think I'll ever remember to take my own shopping bag when we go out. Unless I sewed it to my coat or something.

6:52 am, February 10, 2008  
Blogger UmSuhayb b David said...

You do tend to remember when you get charged about 10 p a bag like here in Sweden as a family shop can end up adding £'s to the bill. I think its actually a good idea and the bags are better quality.

5:54 pm, February 10, 2008  
Blogger UmSuhayb b David said...

plus agree with u on cost of land/ housing its ridiculous

5:55 pm, February 10, 2008  
Blogger Gill said...

I've been thinking about bags and supermarket packaging actually. I should write a separate post about it - it'll probably take me so long to say it.

6:20 pm, February 10, 2008  
Blogger Jax said...

I carry three bags in the bookbag I use as a handbag, that usually gets most of our shopping in. Two more would definitely do it - I'm knitting another string one sporadically.

7:28 pm, February 10, 2008  
Blogger Daddybean said...

I've bought a few of the re-useable bags they sell in supermarkets (not the 'bag for life things') - I prefer the woven plastic ones, even though the cloth or jute (or whatever they are) ones - they seem more practical if a bit less 'green'

I tend to remember to take those rather than random free plastic bags (though they are useful size and tend to get used for stashing things in so I have to buy more....)

8:47 am, February 11, 2008  
Blogger Gill said...

We have a big bag of those, which we used to keep in the car. That worked ok. Then we got too clever and started keeping it in the house, on the grounds that it was easier to refill when we put the shopping away. Result? We never remember to take it shopping!

Aha.. I just blogged myself an answer. Two big bags full of reusable ones. Duh. I get there in the end.

8:52 am, February 11, 2008  
Blogger Augustin Moga said...

"Institutionalized people turn human activities into commodities. What people used to do in order to meet their felt needs, now become things that people try to get. They turn verbs into nouns, like the words "learning" or "housing." To most people, "learning" is not the activity of finding out about this or that, something that anyone can do, but a product obtained from and in schools. "Housing" is not the activity of building or repairing one's dwelling, but a product obtained from the housing industry. "Health" is no longer the activity of living and working in moderate and sensible way, but something which is "delivered." Society becomes a huge vending machine. Politics become arguments about what prizes we should put in the machines, and how we should distribute the tokens to get the prizes. People are told more and more that they are not even competent to decide what they need; experts will test them, or their children, tell them in what ways they have been found wanting, and prescribe this or that institutionalized product --drugs, therapy, training-- to cure them, bring them up to snuff." (John Holt, Never Too Late)

Reading the above quote has somehow reminded me about your eco-home project and education approach. Perhaps, you'll see some connections, too.

Keep writing; I'll keep reading. :-)

9:21 am, February 24, 2008  
Blogger Gill said...

Thanks, Augustin! That is indeed a great quote :-)

1:04 pm, February 25, 2008  

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