How Travelling School of Life was born, started to grow and mutate, and where it is now
- What's the Story? A bit of history and additional informations on Zajezka's (an ecovillage in Slovakia) homepage.
There is not only one “starting point” of the Travelling School of Life. It started at many places, from different people with similar ideas, starting to connect with one another. Many people have been involved up to now, sometimes just for one day or two, giving input during talks and dissapearing again, sometimes staying for a few month and contributing to the further development, sometimes staying for years trying to make it all happen. Since the start some years ago the Travelling School of Life has changed its face quite a few times, and it's hard to remember everything when I'm now trying to write it down. Please add wherever you feel something is missing!
I'm going to tell the story from my personal point of view, that is, where my journey with the Travelling School of Life started. Andrea.
It all started in the alternative, self organized University "Holma College of Holistic Studies". Students came from Germany, Sweden, Finland, Canada, Tadschikistan, Korea, USA) and spent 9 month together, learning and thinking about lifestyle, worldview, community, ecology, sustainability and peace. In spring 2003, a group of 7 students from there goes on a study visit to the german ecovillage Sieben Linden. It becomes clear to them that a place like THIS is where a school should be located! It has all the things they were missing at Holma College - a community of people living there, a lot of practical activities going on, connection to the region, etc. It IS already a learning place, just logical to use it as a 'school' or to make a school there! The idea that ecovillage and life-school get together was clear. But- how to create a whole school in an ecovillage? Or a whole ecovillage around a school? That’s quite a big task and needs lots of financing – if students don’t pay an enourmous amount of money.
So the idea was postponed…It was nice, but too big (we still didn’t know that the solution would lie in connecting various places to one “school”….)
late spring 2003
After the one year course at Holma College some of us wanted to continue, because it was so good :-). So we decided to do our own “second-year course”, where we would: Go out to the world and apply what we learnt at Holma College. Share positive news to the world. Visit ecovillages. And motivate youth to travel, as it is so damn important!!
The possibility to get funding for our “self-created second year course” appears: Andrea remembers that as a former “European Volunteer” she can present a “Future Capital Project” to the EU. So she presents her project “The Travelling School for peace and sustainability” which soon changes name into “The Travelling School of Life”. The project gets approved and the travel starts with 3 people in August 03.
During their travel they find out that everything would need to be a bit better organized. They would like to have a network of places they can visit, have easier access to information about possibilities, have a bigger support group of people in order to ask for help in conflicts, etc. They decide to work on this, in order to make it easier for other/future travellers to find their way, and in order to inspire people to take their time out of school and university in order to learn from real life.
Max, who is working for youth education with GEN-Europe and has similar ideas of making an 'ecovillage education' gets an email from Andrea as she is looking for ecovillages to come and learn with the “Travelling School of Life”. Max is happy to finally find some active youth with similar ideas and invites the Travelling School of Life project to a meeting about youth education.
A meeting in Zajezka of four host-representative and two travelling 'students'. They take up the idea of a 'Gaia University' coming from the Global Ecovillage Network (GEN) and write an application for a big EU youth project. It does not get funded, but the meeting served to get ideas more clear and down to earth and written on paper - the base for future work on it.
GEN – General Assembly: A big circle of people (30?) interested in youth education shares ideas. A small working group happens spontaniously during the break: Teodora, Teodor, Andrea, Geza, Mirec, and maybe someone more that I don’t remember now.
Result: Let’s start something right here, right now! And let’s call it “The Travelling School of Life”. Maybe it can be connected to EVS and multilateral EVS.
After the assembly: discussions on email lists, started by Teodora. Content: Let’s offer to young people the possibility to live and work in an ecovillage as a learning volunteer, not as a tourist. Interested ecovillages should specify what they can offer, whom they want to receive, etc. As it should be affordable for everyone, the proposal was to agree on a maximum amount of money to charge per day. This was being discussed on an email list within interested ecovillages (and taken into consideration during the following Permalot meeting).
Permalot meeting. Participants: Youth (and people who feel young...) from Czech Republik, Germany, Slovakia, Austria, Latvia, Spain, Poland, England, Texas, Australia, Denmark, Romania; representing both 'hosts' and travelling 'students'. In an exciting and wonderful group process (using also the open space technique, by the way..) the Travelling School of Life gets a clearer face. The outcome was put together in the Action Plan, the basic document of TSoLife for the next two years. It is clearly the result of a cooperation between hosts and students, and includes both perspectives.
meanwhile other people take up the Gaia University and develop it into a real possibility for getting university diplomas for life-experience. www.gaiauniversity.org.
Spring 2005 and Summer 2005
The "Travelling School of Life - Pilot Course" starts. It had been prepared as another EU project by Max (Permalot), in cooperation with Ecotopia (Romania), Zajezova (Slovakia) and Andrea as representative of the travelling youth. Finally we can put in practise all the ideas written as concept in the action plan, and see it happen in reality. A group of about 15 young people from Czech, Slovak, Romania, Finnland, Germany, Netherlands, Hungary and England spend 7 weeks (some even more) of the summer together, travelling to three places with prepared program. The idea from the Action Plan developes further and details gets more clear as it is filled with life and experiences. More information about each 'module' see modules.
10 people of the group from last summer want to see one another again, as the summer has done quite something to them and their lives and created beautiful friendships. So we organize a one week stay ourselves, with the format of a 'Travelling School of Life - module'. This is quite different from the summer program, which was completely organized for us. Again, the TSoLife idea develops further.
The first 'host meeting' (as intended in the Action Plan) takes place in Zajezka. Participants are a mixture of 'new' people and longer involved people, both hosts and students; coming from Germany, Slovak, Czech, Bosnia, Kroatia, Russia, Scotland and Austria. It turns out to be some kind of "design meeting", where the longer involved people pass on what has happened up to now and join it with the new ideas. The process is strongly influences by the experiences from the summer. Students share some of their 'traditions' like morning circle, evening circle, songs and games, etc. The outcome are some new docuements, describing clearer what TSoLife is now than the Action Plan, taking into consideration all the changes and developments since the summer.
Mini-meeting of Andrea, Dominik (students from the summer) and a new person involved in alternative ways of learning. Finalization of the Zajezka documents and creation of the new wiki.
It now looks like Travelling School of Life is becoming more and more a students' initiative. It started as a cooperation between students and hosts with similar ideas, simultaneuosly to other educational initiatives with similar contents (Gaia University and Ecovillage Design Education). For a long time it has not been clear what is the difference between these three different initiatives and whether it makes sence to do them separately. It was not really clear what exactly the Travelling School of Life actually is... Now it is getting a clearer face than ever before. Concerning the differences to the other two initiatives: TSoLife is a 'grassroot' approach, self organized by students who want to learn by themselves and need the hosts' help to offer them space and tools for learning. It is non formal, non institutional, open, and about low budget (sharing skills and learning by working rather than paying expensive courses).
Compared to other volunteering programs, TSoLife is much more explicitly focused on learning, relfecting and documenting learning experiences, including converting the learing journey into a more coherent thing; and it is much more about group and 'togetherness' of students compared to individual travelling and learning.
For the more recent history you can also see the | meeting journals]
Wanted: we are searching places for maximum 15 persons where we could make the Introduction courses in Juni and July. If you know gratis/cheap places in nature in west and eastern europe to meet please contact us!
Skill Sharing Summer Program 07 - What is it about?
Learning while Travelling - The Summer Program 2007
with Education Network "Travelling School of Life"
You want to combine travelling, learning and living? You want to find a way to learn in a self-determined way from face to face or with others? You are interested and open towards new perspectives and alternative ways of living?
Eduction networks are tools to connect people that want to share their knowledge, skills and learning-resources. The Skill Sharing Summer is a starting point and self-organised learning experiment outside of formal ways like in university and school where everybody is welcome to join.
Two Introduction Courses will be offered:
- 17th of June – 8th of July in Western Europe
- 15th of July – 29th of July in Eastern Europe
In those two Introduction Courses you will receive the support you need to get to know the possibilities of the education network and design your personal path of learning. After knowing what you want to learn, you contact people from the network that want to share it with other people and ask them for an agreement about your way of hosting and learning.
After the Introduction Courses until the end of September you take part in a whole range of learning possibilities all over Europe. The people involved will travel either in small groups or as individuals from one place to another. Ideally the Opening Course will be the trigger for a long lasting movement that organizes itself beyond the end of September for communal teaching and learning.
While the wiki was spammed and closed, the development stranded in a too complicate skill tree model. Meanwhile the skillsurfers prepared their tour and published a brochure on free learning on the road.
During that time tsolife.org read like this:
Hello fellow wayfarer, our website is currently being rebuilt. Some starting points:
- Old website – the wiki, somewhat outdated
- New website – a Ruby on Rails driven community site, in development (help wanted)
A global learning network
The Travelling School of Life is a glmobal education network connecting people who want to share their knowledge and resources. It supports people in interacting with each other and creating their own ways of learning and teaching, developing approaches which are often different from those used in universities, schools and vocational courses. Even if you are involved in formal education you can still use Tsolife to complement and expand upon your studies.
The network is a tool that can be used to spread information through direct social interaction, making it accessible to people all around the world. You yourself decide which subjects, at which time, in which place, with which people, using which methods and for which reason you want to learn with and from each other. Read more
Help wanted: Would you like to join the construction of our new website? We need help with testing, feedback and programming. Write us at contact(eat)tsolife.org if you are interested. We will be glad to hear from you!
Your TSoLife techies, 3 September 2009 :]
2010 - 2014
The nearly forgotten network has been dug up, waiting for a restart. The quest is still there: How to represent skills in Mediawikia or another software? Maybe the semantic extension can help.