As students, many of us will be used to the idea of travelling alongside our work and studies. We use it to supplement with the traditional curriculum, as a way of adding a wider breadth of experience to our lives, and enhancing our other skills. However, naturally as students, this isn’t our main form of deriving an education. It is not our sole system, we don’t ‘depend’ on it as our every day source of information for careers or otherwise. Even in the very words “gap year”, we are suggesting that though this may be a large chunk of time dedicated to travel, and a huge learning curve at that, it is still separated from our everyday education which we can and do return to.
This is the obvious nature of being a student in the traditional sense, in that you are part of the education system that the majority of us have most likely been raised in. From being a toddler to your late teens, we will have grown up in schools that have a set syllabus of what is ‘important’ for us to learn about, and so that system almost becomes compulsory and unchangeable. When you are older, you of course have much more freedom to do with your life as you wish, but at those younger ages, choices are made by the people who raise us. For a very long time, the standard choice that families have been making is to put their children in to the local school system.
Increasingly, though, we are seeing parents abandoning the traditional school-centred education, and instead opting to raise their children on a “travel curriculum”. Some might call it a new trend or a passing phase, whereas others may argue that this is in fact a much wiser way of raising children. Perhaps it is because it is less structured than what we are used to, we immediately feel alarmed at the thought of anyone willingly putting their children through such an experience.
Looking at the positives, though this is radically different to what a lot of us know, it is not to say that this is a less credible method. Children who are brought up in this way may perhaps even develop a stronger sense of connection with the surrounding world.Coming face to face with various people from a variety of cultures and backgrounds is a stimulating experience as adults, so imagining the wealth of knowledge that a child could garner from a similar experience is staggering. Perhaps seeing different people’s various difficulties in life, and the ways in which they approach them, would enlighten a child and build them in to adults with a passion for helping the world around them and with a strong sense of what people really need.
However, one could argue that a child in constant displacement may never have a sense of home, of a grounded place in which they feel they can root themselves in and build a close network of friends who remain around them and aren’t constantly changing. This is an interesting viewpoint, though, as you could argue that in this constant movement they create homes across the world, and build a network that spans continents. It teaches them exactly how to communicate with others should the time come where they do, in fact, decide to ground themselves in a single place.
Overall, it is clear that both styles of upbringing have their pros and cons. However, more often than not, we dismiss the travel curriculum and favour the traditional system. Although this is largely to do with what is acceptable in society, what we know, and how we measure intelligence, this is a problematic outlook. It does not value the benefits that seeing and exploring the world brings. That kind of visceral learning is irreplaceable and essential, too. Both are unique ways of learning, and both should be valued and treated as such.