Thursday, 23 March 2006
Jon Carroll on the educational value of a trip around the world
Endorsing a suggestion in an earlier article (available to paid subscribers only, unfortunately) by Nicholas Kristof, and endorsing what I've been saying for years, Jon Carroll devotes his column in the San Francisco Chronicle today to why every young person -- especially in the USA, where this happens less now than in other countries -- should take an extended trip around the world, and should receive formal academic credit for the educational value of such a journey. You can read the whole article free at SFgate.com, but here's a snippet:
Link | Posted by Edward on Thursday, 23 March 2006, 12:11 (12:11 PM)
[Kristof says] "Universities should grant a semester's credit to any incoming freshman who has taken a gap year to travel around the world. In the longer term, universities should move to a three-year academic program, and require all students to live abroad for a fourth year. In that year, each student would ideally live for three months in each of four continents: Latin America, Asia, Africa and Europe."
I endorse the idea without reservation....
The years between 18 and 22 are clearly the best for long-haul tight-budget traveling. There's nothing like it. It becomes real easy to identify countries on a map when you're trying to get from one to another; it's easy to know the difference between the Rhine and the Rhone, between Tasmania and Tanzania, between Romania and Slovenia, if you've actually been to them. It's easier to get a nuanced view of immigrants if you've spent time with them before they emigrated. If you've seen Jerusalem, it's easier to understand the stakes of the conflict over there.
There's a saying that people are the same the world over, but that's only partly true. They are the same on the most basic biological level; they prefer health to sickness, bounty to hunger, peace to war -- but on a cultural level, it's not true at all. Understanding how that's not true, and how to engage in the necessary communication anyway, is a skill that can't be learned in a classroom. As the world knits more tightly together, that skill becomes more necessary.