You have heard it said before that travel is the best education. I happen to whole-heartedly believe that, but probably not for the same reasons most people do.
While our society continues to place more and more value testing and measuring students progress I fear that we are measuring all the wrong things. I mean really does it matter if kids or adults know dates of battles and the names of kings when they have no idea of why those battles were fought? Does it matter if they know math tables by heart, but don’t know how to do a budget? Or if they can diagram a sentence, but can’t create and develop important thoughts.
The problem is that the things that I believe are actually really important can’t be measured. You can’t choose an “a” “b” or “c” bubble to test for the skills that will allow our kids to navigate and thrive in our new world.
So what can we do?
I actually do believe that travel forces and fosters the most important skills for our kids success. We don’t even have to really work at it. And think about this list. If you child mastered these skills would you have any reason to worry about them? Worry that they didn’t know higher math? or know what battle ended the war of 1812? Seriously if we just gave our kids these skills all the knowledge they ever needed for work, family, higher education etc. would be no problem.
So here is my list and why I think traveling is the best way to give these skills to our kids and set them up for a life of success!
1. Resourcefulness– This is really the most important. If your child knows how to tackle a problem and search out resources to solve that problem, I guarantee they will be a success. Travel continuously presents problems to us. Language, accommodations, food, transportation, nothing is familiar and we are forced to pool any and all resource to aid in our “survival.” Our kids see us stumbling with language, looking in a guide-book for the right word for bathroom, using our phone to find the distance to our next location and then doing some quick math to calculate an exchange rate.
They see this and it develops a system in them. Problem arrises-find a resource to help you out-learn something-move on-repeat. Share these “problems” with your kids, and then talk them through the steps to finding a resource to solve them. They will learn how to be resourceful and then life will come easy to them.
2. Curiosity The quest to learn new things is born in us. We, as a species, are driven to learn. All we have to do is not ruin this in our kids. Curiosity is greatly enhanced in travel. New experiences, sights, smells and people awaken and exercise the curiosity part of our brain. Nothing stifles this part like routine, sameness (ok probably not a real word, but you get the point), and comfort. Curiosity is the seed that is planted the when it blooms bears the fruit of learning.
3. Adaptability-This has always been an important life skill, but I think in our ever more rapidly changing world this skill is now imperative. The days of the “secure” job, put in your time and the company will take care of you, are gone. The days of invest a bit each month and when you retire it will be enough to take care of you, are gone.The world is constantly changing, improving and reinventing. Those who can adapt with it will rise to the top. If you can rethink your life, reinvent your work, invent something you will be valued in the new world. If you can’t adapt you and your kids will struggle and eventually be left behind.
Travel again forces us to adapt. Breaking out of our routine, or known quantities…grocery same store, friends, bedtime routines etc… there is nothing familiar when you travel so you have to rethink your life and adapt to different surroundings. It is forced adaptability, but if you do it often enough it will develop the skill for you to utilize even while at home.
4. Self-Confidence-I’m not even going to explain why this is a key to a successful life. There are plenty of other blogs that go seriously in-depth about that topic. But…how do you increase your self-confidence? I think facing the unknown and surviving is a great ego booster.
Travel produces situations that make us go beyond what we thought we were capable of. When we do this our confidence to tackle other problems is there. Having first hand knowledge of cultures and places creates a person who isn’t puffed up with facts but rather self-confident in who they are and what their abilities are.
5. Critical Thinking-To me this goes beyond just being able to solve a logic puzzle. I believe we all need to be critical thinkers. Why do we believe what we do? Why do we live the way we do? What really governs our decisions and sets our priorities? Being able to know what you believe, in all aspects of life; religion, politics, lifestyle and all other things that make life rich and worth living, will lead to a rich and satisfying life.
Travel exposes our kids to different ways of living, worshiping and working. It brings up questions we never have asked ourselves in our non-traveling lives. Our kids see these other cultures and want to know why. If we help them understand then they too can know the why for their lives.
What do you think? Do you have another to add to the list? Disagree with me? Let me know what you think.