Tuesday, December 23, 2014

What Education can learn from Travel?

Let us go back to the first day of the Jaipur Literature Festival 2014 again. I attended a session titled, ‘women Uniterrupted’ where Cheryl Staryed and Robyn Davidson described how they used travel to find a part of themselves they thought they had lost. Cheryl Strayed is the best selling author of the book ‘Wild’, where she described her experience walking alone eleven hundred miles of the west coast of America. She did this after her mother’s death from cancer, resulting in her family losing touch with each other. Her marriage also crumbled as a result of this. She thought it was the only way out.

Travel Writers and their stories

Cheryl also described how she always wanted to be a writer and did not want to write something until she knew she had something to say. Robyn Davidson described how at the age of 27, she set of from Alice Springs for the west coast of Australia with a dog and four camels. She faced several difficulties along the way but completed the journey eventually.

Robyn described how nine months on her own had changed her consciousness completely. It was like she became a completely different person. As two travel writers described their adventurous journeys, I reflected on the lessons travel had for me and I think may have for the self-directed learner.

I thought about the trips I was fortunate to go on in my life and what I had learned from them. There was plenty and it went as follows:-

1.  Time with Yourself – This is the best reason to travel alone. You get time with yourself. It is very hard to take out quality time for yourself in today’s hyper connected, information heavy world. This time out, will give you space to think freely. It will let you reflect on what is really important to you. It will give you a chance to become your own best friend.

2.  How to take care of yourself – When you travel you have to take personal responsibility for your life. You have to get your own food, wash your clothes, take care of your belongings and more.  If you were brought up in a household were everything was done for you, this is an educative experience like no other.

3.  How to manage your own finances – When you travel you have to keep record of your own finances. Most often you set aside a budget for your trip and how much you will spend on each day. You also ensure you do not spend unreasonably, and save money when you can. This experience of managing your own finance is a valuable life skill.

4.  How to interact and work with people – You have to constantly interact and meet people during a travel journey. Over time you understand how to articulate your thoughts and present them effectively to other people. You also learn a lot about human behavior by observing and meeting different kinds of people along the way.

5.  Hands on Geography and Navigational Skills – In December 2013, I completed a back packing journey across North India from Mumbai to Varanasi. I visited five cities along the way. In all these cities I had to locate places I wanted to visit and then I had to find a way to get there. I did get lost plenty of times, but I asked around and found my way most often. I walked down inner streets, back alleys  and mall roads. It was the best geography lesson I could receive.

6.  How to schedule and plan your day – Most often you plan a travel itinery where you have a schedule for every day of your trip. You may not do this if you go for a longer journey. But why must you make a plan only for your travel journeys. Why not make a plan for every day of the year with regard to your education. You can note down all the books you want to read, the videos you want to see, the projects you want to start, the conferences you want to attend and the people you want to meet.

7.   Experience a New Culture – When you travel to a new place, you also get to experience the culture of the place. This includes the people, food, music, dance, literature, lifestyle, films, rituals and more. It helps you expand you horizons and understand the diverse world around you better.

Let us Learn Together
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