What makes a good teacher?
Is it their clearly communicated objectives?
Is it their organization, their clever activities/games, or their mastery of the subject matter?
Is it their ability to make strong relationships with their students?
While all of the above are incredibly important and positively impact a student’s ability to grasp and retain concepts — as well as keep their interest — it is my belief that to be a truly effective teacher, you have to connect subjects on multiple levels.
And that’s just what travel does.
Travel retains your childlike wonder and interest in learning
In a traditional four walled classroom, the days of learning for learning’s sake or being truly enthralled with coursework seem to fade the older students get. Whatever happened to our curiosity to explore something new? It got lost amidst GPAs, exams, homework, etc.
And while all of those are helpful education tools and indicators to benchmark learning success, travel invites a new attitude towards getting to those points — making the journey to your A’s, B’s, or check pluses a little more interesting.
Travel improves your soft skills, like emotional intelligence and empathy
According to the Future of Jobs annual report, students who will succeed in the fourth industrial revolution (aka the future) need solidly developed soft skills like self-awareness. Emotional intelligence will continue to increase in importance, and as students are put into the variety of unusual circumstances that are part-and-parcel with travel, they will begin to better understand their emotional breadth and depth. As well, regularly interacting with so many new people while on the road affords kids and teens a natural development of emotional intelligence.
Empathy will also help your child succeed. Making sense of how others live their lives and pushing themselves constantly out of their comfort zone makes for some darn tough and compassionate kids. They’ll excel at “walking the circle” to see multiple perspectives — a skill that cannot be understated.
Travel equips them with awesome communication skills
Being surrounded by so much “new” in the company of others also navigating the “new” is fertile ground for conversation, discussion, challenging perspectives, and — importantly — finding ways to be friendly and make connections quickly. Every verbal interaction invites something new to be learned. Your child’s listening and communication skills (both verbal and nonverbal) will excel more in this environment than in a school.
Travel connects multiple subjects into a single, memorable experience
The less rigid educational approach that traveling affords students means you can apply multiple “subjects” to any given situation. Let’s take a simple trip to the market.
Why is this fruit more expensive than that fruit? → Let’s figure out the cost difference.
They’re out of bananas. → Let’s talk about the economics of supply and demand, as well as how agriculture ties into the food we eat.
Are these fruits organic? → Why do we need to eat organic food in the first place? What types of foods should we (and shouldn’t we) be putting into our bodies?
That woman has a nice outfit on. → Cultures and languages are quickly dwindling. Is this a good or bad thing and why?
There are mostly women working here. → Where are the men? What are the gender norms of this society?
“Mom, I found oreos!” → Trade, tariffs, imports, exports. Do you know what these mean? Does this country have specific historic ties with ours?
The list goes on!
Instead of isolating a subject, simple every-day affairs can provide multiple layers of lessons to peel back. As students explore and identify their interests more, you can then cater to their learning style to provide lessons that meet them where they’re at. A truly customized learning experience!
And so much more.
There are a multitude of ways that traveling challenges and inspires students. In conjunction with coursework, it can elevate their depth of learning — ideally making for not only long term retention of subject matter, but also a general attitude that delights in knowledge. Afterall, sustained curiosity is one of the best gifts we can give our kids!