Sunday, 10 November 2013


This week’s guest post on Education comes from Erica from Expatria Baby. I stumbled across Erica's blog via the 52 Series, Stella's hair grabbed my attention (oh how I love a redhead child), however, it was Erica's writing style the got me hooked. Erica always makes me feel as if  we are chatting in the same room. Make sure you pop over to Erica's blog and Facebook page and give her lots of love. 

Our little nomadic family is currently based in a gigantic South East Asian metropolis where educational choices abound. There’s a long list of private schools that my daughter could attend, each following a different national curriculum, guided by a unique educational philosophy, and using different languages of instruction.

Come August next year, I could send my girl to one of the very best school in all of South East Asia.  And I could do this for free.

But I’m not going to.

Instead, my girl will continue to attend a small Montessori-ish kindergarten where she currently attends preschool. It is not, by any means, the best school in the city. She won’t get the very best education there. She won’t have access to interactive whiteboards or instructional iPads. She won’t be taught by expat teachers with advanced degrees.

But my daughter likes her little school. She’s comfortable there. It’s close to home. She’s learning well, and thriving, even. And most importantly, she’s made it clear that she does not want to change schools. So, she won’t.

When I bring up this educational choice with many of my peers, I get a lot of pushback. People tell me I’m making the wrong decision for my girl. The tell me her future is at stake. That she won’t be ready for first grade. That by denying her this educational opportunity, I’m risking her potential for success.

But that’s not the way I see it. 

I got a pretty good, traditional education. I studied hard throughout high school. I graduated somewhere in the top of my class.  I went to one of the best universities in Canada and got a degree in the Humanities. I studied Latin, read the classics, and wrote long, thoughtful papers. I worked hard. I learned, made mistakes, I grew, and I got better at being a human.

Nevertheless, I have not achieved great success, at least according to the standard definition.  Instead of the fancy briefcase and high-flying career I always imagined for myself, I have a battered suitcase, and a pretty good collection of air miles.

Instead of taking the corporate road, I travelled. I experienced life on four contents, and lived in eight different countries. I married a man I love and followed him across the world. Along the way I’ve cobbled together a “career” of sorts in restaurants, in property management, in education and training management, in social media. Now I raise my girl, look after our home and occasionally write freelance.

And yet, to me, this imperfect, under-achieving life IS a success. I’m living according to my own terms. I work when I want to. I take breaks when I want to. I read books, I cook good meals, I do yoga, I grow, I help my girl to grow, too. And, best of all, I get to spend afternoons with my girl, soaking up the tropical light by the pool.

My husband, by contrast, has achieved enormous professional success. He has a good job, a great reputation, and is on track to a high-achieving corporate position. And his education? Well, he attended a one-room schoolhouse in the Swiss countryside, and then left formal schooling when he was just 15 years old. 

Certainly I value a good education. I invested in one myself! But I don’t think, necessarily, that education is the sole determinant of future success. And pre-kindergarten as predictor of success for a child that already has all the advantages she could ask for? I mean, can we all cool it with the pressure a little bit?

When I think about my hopes and dreams for my daughter, when I imagine her as a flourishing adult, I don’t have a particular set of financial calculations that I use to assign as markers of success. I don’t have any ambitions regarding her career choice, or area of study. I don’t even, necessarily, have aspirations for her to attend university. I’d like her to figure that out on her own. I want my daughter to decide if she wants to sit in a laboratory analysing micro-organisms or if she’d rather be in a workshop, fashioning beautiful objects with her own hands.

What I want, most of all, is for her to find a place in life that feels right. I want her to fell contentment and fulfilment. I want her to build the kind of life that fits her values, and allows her to spend time doing what she loves. And I most certainly do not believe that the school at which she attends kindergarten will help her get any closer to that goal.

So, next year, my girl will go to the same good-enough preschool. She’ll have the same teachers, in the same environment, and follow the same routine. She’ll be happy with that. And so will I.

Please Note: Images and words are Erica's unless otherwise indicated


  1. Great post.
    I know I all too often get caught up in the Brisbane private school craziness...I suppose I know that my parents sacrificed for me to go to the best schools I could and I feel like I should do the same for my son.
    It was refreshing to read this and to realise that schooling does not equal success and it certainly doesn't ensure happiness.

  2. I really enjoyed this post. When I first read it I just sat there for ages, thinking and re-thinking about Jarvis's education. How the choices we make as parents can have such a huge impact on our child's life.


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