Discover more from Beagle Voyage with Jane Liaw
A nine-year-old tells me how she feels about worldschooling
Does she like her life right now?
I thought this would be a good time to check in with Beanie and see how she’s feeling about her worldschooling adventures so far. She was excited to be interviewed, and unlike her usual “I don’t know” answers, she actually gave me some real insights.
I think I will interview her regularly, whether for publication or not, as a way to get to know her better. This was a fun talk!
Do you like moving to different countries and different schools?
It depends. I can't really say until after I've moved, but it mostly depends on how good the school is, like if the school is good and the place is good–or even if the place is a little bit bad but the school is good—then I like moving, but if the school is bad, then I hate moving.
So it mostly depends on the school?
And so far has it been good?
When we went to Ontario, it was good? And then when we went to Costa Rica, it was good?
Yeah, and then when we went here, it was also good. Well I can't say yet, but tomorrow… write this down!...Tomorrow for Valentine’s Day, we get to do a big dyeing project and we get to dye T-shirts and cloths and stuff. Don't ask me why we need the avocado pits [students were told to bring in avocado pits and yellow onion skins].
Well, I guess you're learning to use natural things to dye with, right? So you're excited about doing that at school?
What has been your best school experience so far and why?
I can tell you good things about each school. Forest school is fun because, well, it's obvious isn't it? You just get to play a lot in the forest.
So this school and your Collingwood school are fun cuz you play in the forest?
Yeah. And Acton I liked because of the business fair and stuff. That was really fun. TIDE I liked because of the people and the setting.
What about the setting?
I just liked where it was, right near the beach and stuff.
Oh yeah, it was near the beach.
And public school…I remember that there are more fun events when you go to public school. We didn't go on field trips, but there were Halloween parades and things like that. I liked kindergarten. We got lots of cookies and stuff.
Do you wish we had stayed in Costa Rica?
For some reasons, yes. For some reasons, no.
Okay. So what are the ‘yes’ and what are the ‘no’?
I didn't like Spanish because we’d have to write like five pages.
But you're still taking Spanish with Miss Nicole [she still has private lessons with her TIDE Spanish teacher, over Zoom].
Yeah, but that’s like my extra Spanish [after school lessons], and I'm talking about the main Spanish classes at school that I had to do all the writing. Okay, that wasn't really a problem, but I still don't like writing.
And what makes you sad to have left TIDE?
The people mostly.
Your friends or the teachers or both?
Do you miss them?
Do you miss people back in Walnut Creek too, like Evie and Zoe?
Is it really hard to miss people?
What do you mean?
Moving around means that you're gonna always be missing some people. You're never going to be in a place where you have all your friends.
I mean, not really, because I always make new friends.
That's true, isn't it. So is the upside of making new friends worth the downside of missing old friends?
Yeah, it is. I like that.
If we weren't going home, where would you want to try living?
Mmm…I'm not really sure. It mostly depends on the school, and I don't really know about schools. But are you asking me where do I wanna go, forgetting about the school?
Yes, but I guess what I'm hearing is that school is the most important part. So let's say we were able to find a good school, wherever it is, where would you wanna try living?
It would probably have to be a place that's not exactly a city, because I like nature too, but like Vancouver—it's near nature, but still has lots of cool stuff, like aquariums and science museums. I don’t know much about places. The downside of Vancouver is that it's really, really rainy and gloomy all the time. So maybe I’d try to find a place like Vancouver that maybe isn't so gloomy.
So you don't like the gloomy?
No. I don't like being outside in the rain and if there's nature then I don't really like exploring it while it's really wet.
So does that bother you a lot about nature school here? Because you're out in the rain quite a lot, right?
Not really, actually, because we have tarps and stuff.
But don't you still hike in the rain?
Not really. Like, yeah, in light rain. But if it's really big rain, then no.
Oh, does the tarp protect you? It keeps the rain away, or do you still get kind of wet?
It keeps the rain away. It's a bit squishy under there, but still.
So you guys put up one big tarp and you all squeeze under it.
Mm-hmm. And we eat lunch under there when we're hiking. We hike in the rain, but it's not usually raining when we hike for some reason. And usually it's a steep climb, so if it's a steep climb, it bothers you and it directs you away from the rain.
Because you're so concentrating on hiking, right?
Now that you've done some traveling around and trying these new schools, would you want to keep doing that or would you prefer to stay in one school?
Travel, but eventually settle down somewhere.
Okay. So when is “eventually”?
I don't know, probably years. Maybe like late eleven [a.k.a., almost twelve years old].
You don't mind the traveling around right now?
Do you miss home?
Yeah. I miss our house mostly, and my friends and family at home. I'm sure there's small things that I miss, but I can't think of them.
Do you miss your swing?
Of course! That's part of our house and that's the thing I miss most about our house.
Do you miss home more now or less now than when we first moved out this summer?
Less. Probably because now we're settled in here, so we think about it less.
Yeah, that's true, huh? You've got all these new things that you've experienced, so you think about home less. Has it been hard to make friends at the two schools you’ve been at this year? It seems like you've made friends pretty easily.
Yeah, like on the first day at TIDE, I made Jolynn as a friend, and then the next week I made Izzy as a friend. And here the first day or so I was friends with Lulu.
How did you make friends? Did they come up to you or did you go up to them? Did you say, “Can you play with me?”
No, like with Lulu, we just started talking and then we built a fort together.
What did you start talking about? I'm curious because adults have this whole “Oh hi, nice to meet you” ritual. And kids are like, “Oh, let's build something together.” So did you introduce yourself or did you just start talking about something?
We just started talking about mostly sicknesses because lots of people were sick, so we were talking about what we knew about Covid, and it didn’t really matter that I didn't introduce myself because every Monday morning we do circle and then we have to share our identity—our species teacher [their nature names—Beanie has carried over her old nature name of ‘Snowy Owl.’] and our pronouns, and then one more thing. Like today we had to do our internal weather, how we were feeling inside. I said I was humid.
What about the other kids, were they humid too?
One person was very specific. They said it was cloudy with a 50% chance of rain and three degrees Fahrenheit.
That's very funny.
Would you rather do school at home versus going to any of these schools?
Well, school at home would be cool, I guess. But you say I have to do social stuff.
Yeah, because you can't just be at home with us and not have any friends.
But it’s funner to do social stuff at school.
What if you did some sort of learning activity with other kids, to be social?
It’s not as good. Because in the school, you have free time and stuff like that, but in the class it's just class, so you don't really get to know each other that way.
That's a really good point. What's the hardest part of moving around?
Hmm. Having to go to a new school?
Are you nervous before you start a new school?
Yeah. After a while, I didn't get too nervous. Like for here, I didn't get too nervous because we already moved around a lot, so I wasn't too nervous, but I was still a little nervous.
It didn't seem like you were too nervous this time. I guess it's not just that we moved around, but that you've been to so many schools, even back in Walnut Creek, so maybe you know how to join new groups now?
Can you think of any things you've learned this year from traveling or from your schools?
Well, I learn different things when I go to different schools. In my nature schools I learn a lot more about different types of birds, trees, and stuff. In TIDE I learned different things like the history of Costa Rica, and this wasn't part of school but I did research about sloths and monkeys.
That's true. You did learn that. And you probably would not have researched that on your own if we didn't live somewhere with sloths and monkeys. And you learned Spanish, although I don't know if you think that's a good thing or not.
It's not. It's not! Make a frown emoji. [OK. As requested, :( ]
Also in forest school, I learned that moose can swim. We were doing animal trivia and it was a true or false question. Someone said false and then Willow said it was true because she had seen a moose swimming.
What's been your favorite memory from this year and what's been your least favorite memory from this traveling year?
Oh, that's a hard one. My least favorite memory was maybe those days in my forest school camp, you know, the one in Ontario where we would have to take swim lessons even though it was really rainy.
Was that really terrible?
It wasn't really terrible, but who wants to swim in the cold?
What have been your favorite memories?
Hmm, maybe the fun things we did at TIDE, like the special events, the movie night and Spirit Week and stuff like that…I can’t think of many other memories.
What about your birthday swim party in Costa Rica? Was that a good memory?
Of course it was! Why, that is when I got dear Holly. [whispers] Take a picture of Holly and put it on there…wait, no, no. Don't take a picture of Holly. Look for the picture of when I got Holly on my birthday.
Thanks, Beanie. That was a very good interview.
Pretty Good Things
Here are some things Beanie likes and recommends for other kids her age:
The Magic Misfits series by Neil Patrick Harris: ”Good story and you can learn some real magic.”
Aru Shah series by Roshani Chokshi: ”The characters are realistic and there’s Indian mythology.”
The Last Fallen Star series by Graci Kim: ”You can learn some Korean culture and mythology, which is cool.”
Story Thieves series by James Riley: ”It’s about a totally normal kid like everyone else but then his life gets really exciting and he goes into a world of magic. It’s a good lesson: it makes you believe anything is possible.”
Animal Crossing: ”It’s good if you don’t like violent games, and want to play as a character and not just click on buttons [to do a task] like in games that aren’t very immersive. My favorite part is swimming in the ocean and catching creatures—I like watching my character swimming around. You have to warn [readers] about the dumb jokes when their character catches creatures, or they’ll be unprepared.”
Avatar the Last Airbender and Dragon Prince: ”Both of these are adventures and they’re funny too.” We enjoy these series as a family–they are entertaining for adults as well. Both shows are on Netflix.
Ghostwriter: ”A good mix of fantasy and mystery, both which I like.” A group of kids solve literary-themed mysteries, with supernatural elements. The show is on AppleTV.