I got an email from a friend today who said that it looked like I was living in a ‘Blade Runner’ world. In 1982, the world in that great movie looked extremely futuristic and very overwhelming. I thought this was really apt. When I look out of our apartment window on the 40th floor, and we have windows on two sides of the building, and see the headlights of tens of thousands of cars in the night, I feel like I’m looking down on the whole of humanity and it puts one’s life in perspective.
Listening to four hours of ‘History of the World’ lectures will do that too. I had a big segment to catch up on and I managed to do it today. I would really prefer relishing each lecture, having time to mull it but I have to grab the opportunities when I can and today was a rare day for catching up. These lectures are always utterly fascinating and I love them dearly. An interesting and unexpected thing is that I’m getting a better feel for how my own life fits into global history. I am having to face that I’m an economic migrant, following in the footsteps of millions before me. It’s an uncomfortable feeling because economic migrants leave home because they have to seek better fortunes abroad. It’s not an easy life. And where ‘home’ is becomes a difficult question to answer, especially for the children of migrants.
I have been learning how the ‘empty spaces’ of the world have been gradually ‘filled in’ –open land was traditionally ‘filled in’ by settlers who turned it into ‘productive’ arable land. Well, it feels like the Gulf offers one of the few ‘empty spaces ‘ still left. The space isn’t being turned into arable land, although they’d love to do that, the governments here are buying up parts of Africa to solve that problem instead. The empty spaces are being filled in by tower blocks and huge residential and commercial developments many of which I can see stretched out before me here. And it’s not just the desert, they are also filling in the sea – with land reclamation projects like the Palm Jumeira which I visited the other day; a huge development of reclaimed land shaped like a palm tree with beachfront villas on all the fronds. Living in Dubai is like living in ‘The Truman’ show. It’s so artificial and yet there are communities springing up containing normal people, doing otherwise normal things whilst living on palm fronds in stunning seaview homes.
I feel I am playing a part in the dynamic history of this volatile region whilst also playing a part in an educational revolution that, like another revolution I’ve been learning more about, the individual revolution, is a very slow burning one. The term industrial ‘revolution’ was apt because of its result but not because of its speed and I think this will become the case with homeschooling or alternative schooling. I am becoming more and more conscious that we’re doing something very different here; not only is homeschooling unconventional but I have also chosen a less conventional homeschooling approach, not only is living overseas not something everyone does, especially for extended periods of time, but we’re living in this cutting-edge society with a very tiny newly wealthy, newly educated/westernized population who are overwhelming outnumbered by expatriate workers from every corner of the world, with varying degrees of skills and education. It’s all very disorienting. I feel I have to continually grasp around for something tangible to hold on to, like a really interesting homeschooling conversation I had with a new homeschooling friend in one of those opulent beachfront frond villas. The setting was surreal, disorienting even, but the conversation was down-to-earth and applicable to my real life. We discussed Charlotte Mason’s approach to education and how it’s being offered through an organization called Ambleside Online. A connection was made. It felt real. It felt right. What a relief!
I was listening to a dialogue with a famous historian called Linda Colley. Her most recent book is called, “The Ordeal of Elizabeth Marsh”. The way she describes this real-life woman is that she’s ordinary, insignificant but leads a life that epitomizes some of the interesting economic, social and geographical events going on globally in the eighteenth century. That made her an interesting subject for a book. I wondered if one day a historian would look at my life, as ordinary and insignificant as I am and see how it illustrates some very interesting early twenty-first century global phenomenon from my inter-racial, inter-religious marriage to migrant working to homeschooling. I hope my life continues to be unconventional, hopefully even more so than it is now, but it would be nice if it was somewhere a bit less futuristic, a bit less overwhelming!
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IF YOU’RE NEW TO HOMESCHOOLINGMIDDLEEAST, welcome! I highly recommend that you start reading from ‘Day 1’. The fastest way to access this is to look for ‘Archives’ on the right hand side of the home page, click on ‘February 2012’ and scroll down to the bottom of the page that opens. If you want a quick first visit, you could type a term e.g. ‘socialization’ or ‘university’, into the ‘Search’ box or of course you could just read my latest posts without doing anything!
Why I recommend starting at Day 1 is because this is an adventure into homeschooling that is not yet 3 months old and the journey has been a rollercoaster – philosophically and emotionally, catalogued daily for the first couple of months. For you to get the full intellectual and dramatic impact, it’s best to start at the beginning. You might be contemplating home educating and wonder what those early nail-biting days feel like or you might enjoy reading somebody else’s take on an experience you share with me, or you might be more generally interested in my thoughts and feelings on education and parenting. Whatever the reason you’re reading, I’m really humbled that you’re taking your valuable time to do so and I really hope I can be some kind of hope or inspiration for you. Thank you!