QIANMEN HOSTEL – We met a Chinese family this weekend. They ran the homestay we used near the Great Wall.
They worry so much about their children’s education, they sent their daughter away to school when she was just three years old!
She’s eight now. She comes home every few months.
They also have a two-year-old son. They’re going to send him away when he turns three, too…
He loved playing with Penny (7) this weekend. Here they are…
Our Great Wall hosts will send their son (right) off to school far away when he turns three
Greetings from China! My family and I are traveling around the world, living out of a suitcase, hopping from town to town every few days like migrant workers chasing the harvest. We have three kids. We homeschool them on the road…
We’re currently in Beijing, staying at a cheap hostel near Tiananmen Square. The thing we’ll remember about this hostel is how far the bathroom is from our room. We have to go down a flight of stairs and across an outdoor courtyard to get to it.
It’s cold in Beijing now. We won’t miss going to the bathroom here, especially at night.
Anyway, it’s not just our Great Wall hosts that take their kids’ education very seriously.
We met one woman who makes her daughter study until 1 a.m. and then wakes her up at 5 a.m. for school.
Our friend Jessica (I first wrote about her here) plans to move her family to another town 500 miles away to get her son into the right school.
And the first question every parent here asks us when they hear how long we’ve been traveling for is, “What about school?”
They Don’t Teach This in School
It’s also been an outstanding education for the kids…
Every morning, Kate and the kids do three to five hours of schoolwork while I prepare these journals.
Each child has a workbook, which we carry with us. They do geography, science, mathematics, writing, drawing, and history homework. Then they fill the extra time with TEDx and YouTube videos. Kate even includes stand-up comedy sometimes.
In the afternoon, we go out.
We visit museums, monuments, castles, and natural wonders. We’ve been to Nazi concentration camps, Roman and Greek ruins, the Egyptian Museum, the Tesla Museum, an African safari park, civil war battlefields, mosques, and dozens of other cool places. The kids are learning history, science, nature, religion, and geography.
We try to keep this routine every day, even on travel days. It inserts a little structure into our daily life and keeps us from going crazy.
This trip also teaches the kids skills they wouldn’t learn in any school… like haggling with taxi drivers… or reading a subway map. They now know how to pay restaurant bills in a foreign currency… how to trade travel stories with other backpackers… and how to politely dismiss the beggars and hawkers. (Some street hustlers specifically target kids.)
But perhaps the most valuable lessons are the long conversations Kate and I have with the kids over meals… while waiting for buses… and as we walk around town. We discuss politics and finance and ethics and history and good table manners. We talk about the people we meet and the places we’ve been.
We spend tons of quality time together. I suspect these are the lessons that’ll shape them most of all.
It’s not the most academic education, but we consider this year to be a “field trip,” so we’re not stressing too much about academics. We can design a more rigorous curriculum when we find a home.
In terms of getting the kids ready for life, I’m convinced this trip is the single best thing we could have done for their education.
As I said yesterday, even if I die tomorrow, I’ll die a happy man knowing I gave this experience to them.
– Tom Dyson
P.S. We have a dream to one day own an Airbnb or a guesthouse and attract travelers from all over the world. The kids would learn so much from interacting with our worldly guests, and we’d all be working together to run a business. It would be the ultimate homeschool setup.
Kate and I find it so ironic that we met a family who has this EXACT setup, yet they’re choosing the very opposite approach for their children’s education… by sending their children away at three years old.
Tom shares his thoughts on gold… the end of Postcards… and what to do if inflation goes out of control…
Reader question: I just finished one of your postcards, and two thoughts occurred to me.
First, I have been an avid journaler for many years, and I often enjoy paging back over past entries and recalling what my life looked like to me in years past. I think a lot of us might really enjoy traveling with all of you vicariously again in the future. Have you considered compiling and publishing your posts in a book?
Second, I am amazed how deep and profound some of your posts are. What do you attribute this to? How do you get these ideas?
As you near the end of your family’s odyssey, I am already getting morose over not being able to look forward to your postcards.
Tom’s response: What a kind and encouraging message. Thank you very much. I’ve opened a can of worms by writing these postcards, and I don’t think I can stop now. I really love writing them…
Reader question: Just read your postcards for the first time. Found the info about the new Terracotta soldiers very interesting.
Is there someplace where I can find or set up my own Dow-to-Gold ratio? Maybe in StockCharts?
Tom’s response: You can bring up the Dow-to-Gold ratio in stockcharts.com by putting in the symbol $INDU:$GOLD.
Reader comment: Recently discovered your postcards, and your knowledge is amazing!
Reader comment: I love reading Postcards From the Fringe. The information I have gained has been helpful to take more control over my money. In other words, I recently converted some of my assets to gold.
I’m sorry to say I’ve only caught the tail end of your wonderful adventure. I hope whatever you do next will continue to bring you the joy that this last year has brought you. And I’m looking forward to your next type of publication. Sure that I will be just as hooked as I am now.
Reader comment: Your reportage from China is perfectly timed with the trade war and election steam heating up.
Your daily witnessing of the folly of communism – ghostly infrastructure delirium and the October 23 missive highlighting the grand delusions of dictators (basically the behavior of spoiled children) – seems to be offering a peek into a failure that about half of this country wants to lap up and subject the rest of us to.
Keep up the good digging, for those of us who can see the bottom of the hole.
Reader comment: Thanks for the excellent read about the Terracotta Army.
Reader question: The general thinking is the Fed knows how to deal with inflation, but deflation is uncharted territory where the Fed has no bullets. It tried to inflate for 10 years to no avail. For the knowledgeable investor, what are your top three must-do actions in the face of deflation? Cash, silver, and gold under the mattress? Thank you.
Tom’s response: I don’t think it’s wise to try and predict the ins and outs of inflation and deflation. Better to cover yourself in case of either. Or both.
And by the way, the Fed can expand its balance sheet much further than it has to date, especially if it had the political cover to do so, i.e., a recession. So I don’t think it’s safe to assume inflation is dead.
That said, a portfolio of gold, silver, and cash would cover you in every outcome.
Got questions or comments we didn’t get to today? Send them to us at [email protected]. Kate and I read every note you send us. And remember, I’ll never reveal your identity or include any potentially identifying details if I decide to publish it.