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Whistler writer contributes to book on ‘worldschooling’

Worldschoolers: Innovative Parents Turning Countries into Classrooms includes stories of travel and education
Prajakta Kharkar Nigam and her family at an elephant sanctuary during their travels. The Whistler writer recently contributed a chapter to a book called Worldschoolers.

Whistler writer Prajakta Kharkar Nigam has shared her family’s story of “worldschooling” in casual conversation many times before.

But now she’s had a chance to contribute a chapter to a book on the topic.

In Worldschoolers: Innovative Parents Turning Countries into Classrooms, 22 “worldschooling” parents from around the globe offer stories of their travels, as well as tips on how to combine travel and education for their kids.

“This is not a defined term,” Kharkar Nigam says. “It’s very broad. Any family who uses travel as a tool for learning could call themselves a worldschooler. I have called my family ‘worldschoolers’ even after settling down in Whistler and sending my kids to a brick-and-mortar school. Other families are on-the-go all the time. They don’t have a homebase. This whole spectrum can be counted as worldschooling.”

Kharkar Nigam blogged about her experience, which is how the book’s publisher found her, via LinkedIn, and invited her to contribute. Prior to the pandemic, her family was on a travel sabbatical from their home in Toronto for 18 months, experiencing everything from a llama farm in Ontario to an elephant sanctuary in Thailand.

“My chapter [is called] Families Who Learn Together, Thrive Together,” she says. “While the backdrop for the chapter is our family’s travels through various countries, I have picked and used examples from different places … to illustrate the point there could be a different model where learning doesn’t have to be separate from family life. Because we spent those one-and-a-half years together … making mistakes together, trying new foods, we learned together, but thrived because of it.”

Now that they’re based in Whistler, rather than a string of journeys, the family squeezes in travel during school breaks—like a recent trip to Saudi Arabia and an upcoming summer planned in the U.K.

“We did not set out to become worldschoolers,” Kharkar Nigam adds. “I didn’t know there was such a term. We started doing something called quest-based learning. I would observe what my kids were interested in at that time and build a trip around that experience.”

One example? During a period of pesto-obsession, she and her husband decided to take the kids to Genoa, Italy, where their favourite pesto was from, and learn all about food.

“We followed their curiosity around and it became an expedition of many months,” she says.

But worldschooling doesn’t have to include far-flung places and expensive trips. It can also feature weekend travel around the place you live, she adds.

“It doesn’t mean everyone has to sell their houses and pack up their bags,” she says. “It’s about using travel as school.”

In a town filled with so many adventure and travel-minded people, Kharkar Nigam says the book will likely appeal to locals.

“I speak to a lot of families taking trips like this and give them a perspective on how it can be made possible,” she says. “I think it’s easier than before.”

The book is now available on Amazon.

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