Going to school is important, right? But could travelling be even better? A friend of mine (coincidentally, the one who inspired me to get involved with Kiva) recently wrote an update on Facebook:
And then she made sure I knew about, assuming (100% correctly) that I would be a kindred spirit here! Not because I (as yet) have any gripes with the education system but because I think travel is the greatest thing of all!
I instantly thought of my six months in Europe as a child. These six months stretched over the European summer which, being opposite to Australia's, meant I missed probably close to three quarters of the school year that year. We took some distance education learning materials with us (provided by the state education department) but without internet (long before internet, in fact!) and because we were always moving around with no fixed address, it was really just something to keep us a bit busy on long campervan drives rather than something we were really meant to learn from. And our teachers at the time also said what I still believe now: they'll learn much more from this trip than they would in school.
Learning about life in Greece - me as a nine-year-old (and not in school!)
Now it's easy enough for me to totally agree with this now when my son hasn't even reached kindergarten, but I am seriously all for giving him travel opportunities even if they come at the expense of a few weeks (or perhaps even months) at school, especially when he's younger. When I think back to my six months in Europe, I know I learned so many things that remain with me to this day, including academic ones - the geography of Europe (I could draw and label a full map of Western Europe as a nine year old and I am pretty sure even many Australian adults can't do that), the currencies, converting them, the flags, the cities, the cultural icons, there's a huge amount of stuff that lodged in my brain in a way it couldn't be just from sitting in the classroom. And of course there's plenty of tangential learning going on too, learning about cultural differences, how to be independent, how to read maps and get around, so many life skills. I even got to practice badminton skills when we stopped in caravan parks and got out our rackets and shuttlecock!
Now, I'm not going to say school is not important, because obviously it is, and I wouldn't suggest taking a kid out of high school the year of important exams or anything like that. But to take a child to a foreign country for a while - that's priceless education. Agree or disagree?