Travelling presents the best opportunity for educating oneself. Surely the ultimate goal is to learn as much as you can when you travel – to take every opportunity to explore the place, the people, the culture, food, geography and history of your destination.
I’m not saying travelling should be a substitute for going to school (university is a whole other question!!) BUT it sure can add to the foundation already provided by a school. Plus for those who learn best in context there is no better alternative (though a time machine would certainly be useful for studying History!)
So let’s have a look at a possible traveller’s timetable based on some of our recent trips.
Lesson 1: History
An obvious one to begin with and one that is most relevant to me as I dropped History at the earliest opportunity: age 14 (it really makes a difference who teaches you and whether they have the ability to inspire). However, I have come to realise that History is important for us all – without an understanding of our past we cannot truly prepare ourselves for the future. I have learnt about the true implication of the Final Solution in Auschwitz, climbed through the Chu Chi tunnels which were an essential asset to the Vietnamese people and seen the still great but once forbidden city of Beijing. It is through these visits that I have been able to begin my training in History and start to piece together events that occurred before me.
Lesson 2: Geography
Flags, capitals, longest rivers, deepest canyons, active volcanoes, urban centres and rural communities. All of these are facets of the study of geography which is fundamentally entwined with travelling. As you explore countries within continents and communities within countries you are delving into the study of Geography. Each is so different so you have to see it for yourself. I have been fortunate to gaze upon the wonder that is the Grand Canyon, stroll along the sidewalk of Las Vegas and stop in an American town with a population of 300! Across the globe I’ve walked along the Great Wall of China, accepted a proposal in Halong Bay and navigated the public transport system of Singapore. Wherever I’ve been I’ve been delighted by the variety and I guess that’s one of the reasons I keep exploring the world around me.
Lesson 3: Religious Education
Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Islam, Judaism, Sikhism and many more! To worship or not to worship? Private or public? One God or several? There are so many questions that seem to surround religion but the one thing they all seem to have in common is that you have to have faith. Now I might not have faith in one particular religion at this stage in my life however, I do have faith in the power of travel to open my eyes to religion. Having been born and raised in the West Midlands (UK) I have always been exposed to a range of religions and the importance of acceptance and celebration of diversity. Since travelling I have seen Buddhist monks collecting alms at 0430 in Luang Prabang and heard the call for prayer from the Sultan Mosque in Singapore. I’ve learnt all about Mormons whilst in the state of Utah and seen the large scale Roman Catholic churches in Malta. On all occasions I have felt humbled to be in the presence of those who believe in something greater than themselves and hope to continue to develop my understanding and knowledge as I continue to explore the cultures around the world.
Next up in this series of blog posts on travel and education I cover Languages including my own, those of the countries I visit and even Maths – the universal language of numbers!