There is never any question for me what is more important—travel! After twelve years of K-12, four years of BA, and seven years to finish my Ph.D. and M.A. (I did them concurrently), I am fully aware of both the benefits and detractions of formal education. Take a deep breath; the bottom line is, formal education is highly overrated and does not replace the sophistication of diverse life experience.
It is really true—there is no fool, like an educated fool. Some people use their education to narrow their world or justify their ignorance and bigotry. I was very lucky to have stumbled upon sociology, which broadened my understanding of the world. Wade Davis made the brilliant observation that, “The world in which you were born is just one model of reality. Other cultures are not failed attempts at being you; they are unique manifestations of the human spirit.” So, I believe that education should supplement experience, not substitute it!
I have no problem pulling the girls out of school to travel. I collect all of their homework for the time we are gone, and yes, they do school work every day of our trip. They take spelling tests and vocabulary word tests. They get the score they earn. But, you will find if you homeschool or have taken your child on a trip with your school’s blessing, you can get through schoolwork within a couple of hours since you can concentrate on just your children instead of 20 if you are lucky, or 42 if you are not. Once their schoolwork is done, we are off and exploring!
What do I believe children learn from traveling? 1) They are directly exposed to different cultures. 2) They will learn that not everyone sees the world the same way that they do. 3) They will learn how to relate to people who do not share their cultural respective with respect. 4) They will explore differences and learn about themselves through these explorations. 5) They will grow in wisdom as they come to the realization that they live in a very affluent and powerful country. 6) They will expand their growing empathy as they see the way others live. 7) They will witness that materialism doesn’t not equate happiness. 8) They will grow resilient through the normal pitfalls of travel. 9) They will learn new and unexpected things. 10) They will be incorporated into the complex, larger world, which scares so many!
I don’t want my children to be citizens of the world. I find the phrase sub-moronic. You cannot be citizen of a world divided by culture. I have brought them up to be proud of their country, but I want them to understand that as Americans they are part of a larger world, an integral piece of a macrocosm, not the whole.
Aruba, here we come!