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Travel as a part of education

 

'Education' in the broad sense is the drawing out of the individual's personality and intellectual ability, and travel has always been considered an important part of this process. Yet, the functions assigned to travel as part of education have varied curiously. Before modern times, the greatest travelers were the Dutch, the onwards, the motives behind travel were exploration, military conquest leading to ownership of foreign territories, trade and commerce, and diplomacy. Clive of India, Sir Stamford Raffles of Singapore, are among the great names associated with the old-fashioned object of travel -- colonization and, in the opinion of some people, 'exploitation'. So far from learning about their travels, which, in a sense, they were bound to do, whether they liked it or not, early travelers considered themselves teachers -- of an outlook, a religion, and a way of life, which they assumed was superior to what they found, just because in certain respects, it was more materially advanced. The early travelers were explorers, 'empire-builders' and adventurers, despite the incidental benefits they were able to confer on undeveloped countries. Countries which bred travelers believed quite firmly that foreigners were 'lesser breeds without the law', and that the only justification for travel was national or personal gain. The object was to make money abroad, then come home and live 'as gentleman'. Typical of this spirit was the 'remittance man' -- the 'black sheep' of the family who was paid to live overseas. "Deportation" -- was the sentence imposed in 19th century Britain as an alternative to execution for certain serious crimes. Botany bay in Australia was peopled by such criminals. An important factor in the early days was time; travel, by sailing-ship or 'safari' meant months to an from a destination. Going overseas meant being away a long time - perhaps for good. European travel was the exception, and here, we look at a new consideration, that of 'culture'; Italy and Greece are living reflections of ancient classical lore. The 'educated' young man, rich and sophisticated, was not considered completely 'finished', until his classical education had culminated in a 'Grand Tour' of Europe. During this period, he used the languages learned in the schoolroom, and saw for himself the places which had figured so prominently in his earlier studies. with this new background, he became fit for the Army and Navy, or the Colonial and Diplomatic Services. But, he always 'looked down' on the foreigner -- even the European -- as a second-rate person.

The theory of travel in the modern age is totally different, and this is because the attitude of the older countries to foreigners had undergone ad radical change in the last 50 years. As nations draw closer to one another, and we all progress to the ultimate goal of a world-community, we tend to look upon all men as of equal value, and we are prepared to learn from them all, however undeveloped their way of life may be. Today, every intelligent person regards travel as an intellectual venture, and goes abroad prepared to learn rather than teach. Not only his means of getting abroad, but also his occasions of wishing to go abroad have undergone radical change within recent years.

Today, distance means little in terms of time. The European executive will soon be able to make the return journey to the USA within the day; already the Singapore businessman can reach England within 18 hours. The jet plane, the fast car, the ship, and the railway have made travel for diplomatic, business or military reasons virtually an immediate thing. Travel is, of course expensive but is much easier if the government or the firm pays the bill. But all the same, it is far from being limited to the rich, or to officials. Today, travel is a function spread throughout the community. Paid holidays help the worker to travel beyond his own country. Perhaps the most important change is that, nowadays, people at every level of the community are meeting overseas. This tends to spread an international outlook and makes for world peace. It result sin a certain amount of resettlement and admixture of populations, which has  actual benefit from the education point of view.

Nowadays, few travel primarily to gain education, but education, though incidental, is the inevitable result. Travel teaches climatic conditions, racial customs, religions languages and the social and political outlooks of other nationalities. It helps in racial and national understanding through exchange of ideas; it provides interesting conversation. Inevitable certainly when the mind is tuned and receptive, but not so to the dull and narrow person, who gains to benefit wherever he goes, and therefore might as well stay at home.

     
     
     
     
     
     
     
 
 

 

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High School English essays 1

 
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