Travel – A Part of Education
Traveling is an important way to gain knowledge and acquire an education. From time immemorial traveling has been considered a part of one’s 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. Traveling both inside and outside the country is a powerful aid to education. Yet, the functions assigned to travel as part of education have varied curiously. It provides an experience of the world and calls into action and practical use the various qualities of mind and intellect developed by education. 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.
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 ‘like a gentleman’.
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.
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.
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.
Nowadays, few travel primarily to gain an 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 the exchange of ideas; it provides interesting conversation.