How do I continue to learn as a teacher? Why candles should travel

After more than a decade of teaching, I find it increasingly difficult to decide how to spend my time in order to invest in being a better educator.

Completing my Masters degree, attending interesting PD, writing this blog (!) https://ateacherislikeacandle.wordpress.com/2020/08/02/why-this-candle-blogs/ are all adequate ideas, but I think, more than anything, the key to being a good teacher- a candle that can light the way for others- is to travel.

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Why travel? Because you can’t really understand the world until you get out there and experience it. And you have no chance of truly understanding the people in the world unless you feel firsthand what their lives are like at home.

Why is it necessary to understand people? Because it is your job to shape people, and you want them to turn out well.

I admit that I may be a bit biased about this topic. I was raised a RAAF brat who traveled to, and lived on, many bases as a kid- including overseas. I was an exchange student in high school and I know for certain that it was a formative experience that has made me, perhaps more than anything else, who I am today.

But bias aside, travel has the potential to change every one of us.

How can you teach about History until you’ve walked the ruins of Pompei, climbed inside the Pyramids at Giza, hiked to Machu Picchu, or viewed Angkor Wat?

How can you teach Geography if you’ve never cruised the Nile or felt the mist on your face from the powerfully majestic Iguazu Falls?

How can you teach sustainability without first seeing the majestic animals of the African Masai Mara or seen the Earth from up high on a hot air balloon over the Valley of the Kings?

How can you train others in conflict resolution skills if you have never crawled through the Cù Chi tunnels at Ho Chi Minh, nor counted the skulls at the killing fields in Cambodia?

How can an English teacher assign “The Boy in the striped pyjamas” as compulsory reading without having seen the concentration camps at Auschwitz? Or “The Diary of Anne Frank” without walking through the doors of Anne Frank House in Amsterdam?

How can you teach business studies without going to Wall Street? Arts without visiting the Louvre? Any language without hearing someone use it as their native tongue?

And how can you know what kind of people you are trying to mould, inspire, nurture and send out into the world if the only kind of people you’ve ever dealt with are those of your own culture and community?

Once borders reopen and airlines get back into their usual routines, get out there and explore the world. It’ll open your eyes. And make you a better teacher.

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7 comments

  1. To travel is a wonderful thing but i have often found that whilst i’ve formed some connections travelling (especially travelling as a family which seems to allow you access to connect with people) the experience of perspective comes mostly from what i see and observe. For me the bigger challenge comes from learning to grow where i am planted. The connection that comes being a part of family and community and it’s associated history and geography and economic inequalities and sacrifices has far greater life lessons and gives me a far greater level of understanding. For me it’s the connection that helps the lesson be a success.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you for sharing your perspective, Overlandfish. It sounds like you are a fellow people-watcher. Am I right? 😀 I really like your reference to “growing where you are planted”- putting down roots is something I feel I haven’t had much of a chance to do thus far. I hear you about the sense of community and of tradition, especially for young people, as those connections and that history can help them to shape their identities. It is something that is important for teachers to keep in mind.

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  2. After reading this post, a day after actually, my mind went to a budget version of travel. There are so many local happenings that I have yet to experience while I save for the overseas experience. Top of my list currently is a visit to Mu’ooz in West End, a training restaurant for refugees.
    So much to do – so little time. 😆

    Liked by 1 person

    • You’re so right Freckle- there are many amazing things in our own backyard! You may not have to go very far at all to experience something that opens your eyes and gives you perspective. I may have to check out that restaurant myself 😀

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