Does travel make us wiser? Education vs Travel

For many youngsters, from primary education to high school, travel is important – a dream even. As a traveler from a young age I now question, which one prepares us better for this journey that is life, “the School of Curriculum or the School of Life?”

With the rise of the Internet in the last decade, reaching information about anything and everything from anywhere is very easy. But does this make up for the choice of traveling, experiencing and living events and culture at first hand? Traveling the world opens our eyes to new and different ways of living, of understanding. It teaches us many things we could not learn in a classroom, or on the Internet. Traveling, to wherever it may be, helps us put what we learn in school, the theory, into practice.

Coming from a small family of just mum, dad and me, we did everything as a three. Both my parents are and have been self-employed as long as I have lived and have always had a passion for travel. My childhood was not the average up bringing and I know how lucky I am to have been around the world.

Traveling is not for everyone; leaving the comfort zone and going off exploring the world requires something of a traveler’s open mind.

Experiencing extreme poverty in southern India, riding a tree-high train learning about wildlife in the rainforest in Costa Rica, eating endless sushi whilst learning the art of calligraphy in Japan, visiting a few of the 7 wonders of the world… I would be lying if I said that these experiences have not helped shape me.

They laid the groundwork for a lifetime of being voraciously curious about other people, places, languages, and cultures. As Prophet Muhammad once said: “do not tell me how educated you are, tell me how much you have travelled”. So I question, has travel made me wiser?

Wisdom is such a vast and abstract word. Something we all aim to achieve in this lifetime, in whatever it may be. What categorizes good or bad wisdom? All experiences make us wiser; educate us, in one way or another. A quote by the infamous scientist Albert Einstein states, “education is all that is left, when all you have learned is forgotten.”

Although I was excused from school for taking weeks and even months off to travel the world with my parents, I would still have to catch up once I got back. This is something that is not that easily done in current day. In Britain, fines for taking children out of school to travel were introduced in 2004, and have increased since.

My hippy parents, despite neither having a university degree, believed and still believe in education. That is why, although I grew up in Spain, I went to a private British School. A posh school that perhaps cared less if students attended as long as they paid tuition.

All parents, or at least most parents, try to do what is best for their children. Mine believed in balancing world traveling and private education. This may have worked for me, as it had worked for them – but this does not make it the best decision, but their decision. Traveling is not for everyone; leaving the comfort zone and going off exploring the world requires something of a traveler’s open mind.

There are many ways to learn and not attending school. For example homeschooling and distance learning that are very common in some parts of the world. This does not make them any better or worse methods, just different ways of absorbing knowledge. Is there a wrong way to gain knowledge? Experience challenges us and changes us but most importantly, educates us.

It is as achievable to finish our education without broadening our horizons, as it is to return from traveling without having changed our existing mindset. 

One thing I really did not and do not agree with is how education curriculums promote a larger picture, imagination and possibilities and then tie us down to the thought that a degree or career after school is the only way to succeed. I wanted to study arts, a frowned-upon decision, and the fact that I knew that I wanted to take a year out before thinking about going to university, even worse. From that experience I learnt something very important about education.

Yes, it is important what we learn at school, from how to write good essays, solve math problems, debate and express opinions about history… but most importantly, to know that all wisdom we learn becomes ours. From which we create personal experiences that take us on our individual paths. We are not limited by what we have learnt.

It is as achievable to finish our education without broadening our horizons, as it is to return from traveling without having changed our existing mindset. It comes down to how we approach life, and we all approach it differently. As they say, “life is not about finding yourself, but creating yourself”. If we all created in the same way, this world would be a pretty boring place.

 

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