Skills for life

We have chosen to adhere to the NSW Maths curriculum while we sail and travel.  Frankly, it's a bore and a chore, but kids want to rejoin school in term 4 so that's the deal.

There never seems to be a good time to do it – it always interrupts something more urgent, important or interesting.  The morning is a good time for productive activity; surfing, taking coral footage, or working on the boat.  After that we all want to eat and relax a bit.  After that we need more activity to stimulate us through the afternoon heat.

We dutifully sit down together, text books open, and the heat seeps into our brains and everything becomes slow and dull.  Soon one of us is yawning, which is of course contagious.

Today, having suffered through half a chapter of algebra, Django threw off the stupor and announced he’d had enough of maths.  “I want to go and learn something useful, like how to drain the carburettor!”  Karl needed no encouragement.

Yesterdays adventure was a late afternoon fang in our new speedy tender to the pass in the reef nearby; the location of a fat and heavy wave we’d spotted the other day.  Clearly a local break (betrayed by a mooring ball behind the break for securing your canoe, dinghy etc whilst surfing), it had been too big the day before.  Django went prepared and optimistic, and was rewarded by a wicked session on his biggest wave yet, owning it with the locals out there and even managing a bit of French to discuss the swell.  (The other component of our “formal” schooling programme)

Milking it to the last, the crew gathered for the 2 mile journey back to Blue Heeler 1 at fading dusk, only to find the engine conked out and not responding.  It was already a long paddle home against potentially counter currents, when one paddle broke and they had to invent a way to use Quinns short board as the other paddle.  Clever use of the leg rope to pull it through the water had them underway – truly an innovation resulting from adversity!

The story of my anxiety back on BH1 is another paragraph; but never mind that.  They appeared just after I’d called the coast guard – an hour after last light – all safe, and well worked out from the 2 mile paddle.  Karls conclusion; water in the carburettor, and that lay the ground for todays lesson for life; how to trouble shoot a two stroke engine.

You can read Django’s report in another post.   But after a morning working on the boat and doing maths, Karl, Teaghan and Django set up in the shade and took the simple little Tohatsu apart, working steadily through each component and rendering her running again within 30 minutes.  Like Django said – something very useful to learn!

It's a blessing of this lifestyle, to be constantly challenged with problems that you need to solve by your own wits, inevitably learning something along the way.  Karl and I are often surprised by and pleased with our own ingenuity.  It certainly makes me feel more solid in the world; that I have the skills to work a problem much deeper than I give myself the credit for; that I am possibly the best available “expert” to turn to for advice.  It helps me manage the stress of the unknown and makes me feel more empowered. 

What skills do we really need for “success” in life?  Although I have a deep respect for maths as a classical discipline, does it really help my children?  What other things may we be able to pass on as parents? 

Here’s a few:  How to make friends in basic French.  What makes machines work?  What happens if I pull this rope (is it safe? What do I have to check first?) And, of course; What to do when you’re up the creek without a paddle.