Just over 5 years ago the seedlings of Discovery were planted firmly in the ground when, as a young father, our first child was born.
We had moved back to Canada after having lived overseas for well over 15 years, and were busy piloting a young start up whose focus was developing technology for visual effects and animation companies; something both my wife and I had well over 20 years experience in. Our careers had provided the opportunity to live in the UK, New Zealand, Australia and Norway while working on projects like Lord of the Rings, Avatar and Harry Potter but this also came with the downside of uprooting every 8-12 months to do so and long hours were the norm.
We knew we wanted a family and a sustainable lifestyle to go along with it.
This decision led us back to Canada with the understanding that if we were to make it work, we really needed to set up our own company that fit the goals and philosophies we desired heavily influenced by Patagonia’s example laid out in Let My People Go Surfing (and more recently Family Business).
A few years passed and another lovely little boy joined our brood.
I worked from home and this gave me the opportunity to see our boys grow spending almost every breakfast, lunch and dinner with them without missing a single milestone. It was around this time that I started to reflect on what happens beyond daycare and the introduction of full day kindergarten – watching both sons closely, what was the ideal educational experience I wanted for my children?
What became a slight curiosity quickly led to an obsession and I was quickly consuming books digging into the roots of both the mainstream and alternative methods to build a picture of what my ideal education environment would be. There were extremely compelling elements of many methods of education, but none of them met my expectations. The closest (and one that has the heaviest influence on Discovery) is Finland’s reformed education system.
We have no comprehension of what sort of world our children will be living in 20 years from now, but their education should provide them with the foundation to tackle life – not just academics – especially at a young age. It should provide them with the support and confidence to have genuine and fulfilling social interaction with friends and family as well as problem solving and critical thinking skills to meet and exceed challenges they’ll meet head on that may not even exist yet.
My obsession was turning into a passion. A passion fuelled by the fact that my oldest was starting Junior Kindergarten and coupled with my own childhood anxieties.
One night that summer I entered the search phrase “starting an alternative school” in Google just to see what results might appear. I may have been hoping for a guide book, or a 10 step how-to, or a YouTube instructional video, but clearly it wasn’t going to be that easy.
It hasn’t been.
In fact, it’s been much harder than we could have ever predicted. But, the sense of accomplishment over the last 6 months has been immense. It’s a passion driven by many factors, most importantly the happiness of our family and our two little seedlings.