Wednesday, September 15, 2010

image Feb4_Colorful_worldI loved to travel since I was a little child. Every summer my mother and I would travel by train or plane to the south of the former Soviet Union – to swim in the Black Sea and to sun on the overcrowded beaches. When I got older, I also traveled with my father – to visit his brother in Ural Mountains, to go to the small town where my grandparents spent their youth (we went there in 1985, and in 1986 that place became part of Chernobyl disaster zone). When I was in the last year of high school, my mom and I went on a river cruise along the Volga river visiting famous old Russian cities and learning more about “old Russian history” (it was replaced entirely by “new history” but it’s a topic for a separate post). I moved to US after graduating from college and started to make plans to see more of the country. After several years of working as a software engineer in New York City, I took a pay cut and a job of a traveling post-sales consultant. My parents told me, You won’t last 6 months! I ended up traveling for 5 years. I have visited many states of America, livable parts of Canada and about 15 European countries in those five years. It was amazing to see “for real” the Pyramids of Giza, the Niagara Falls, the Eiffel Tower, Santorini, Vatican, Grand Canyon, Jerusalem. I feel very blessed for these opportunities, but I believe my desire to shape my life in this direction was born from early childhood experiences, from reading books about travelers and adventures, from collecting stamps of animals and plants, from traveling with my parents.

I know that there is a school of thought believing that geography needs to be taught from inside out – kind of “Me on the Map” approach. I rather like “personal interest” approach. Of course, at an early age it was more my personal interest – we read a lot of books about the maps, different continents, different countries. Lately Anna usually chooses a country or a place to visit. Sometimes even I hesitate – would a 3 year old make sense of, say, Hoover Dam? But she surprises me again and again with what she retains and how she incorporates her knowledge into her play and her language. Her enthusiasm for travel is obvious in an ease with which she left behind her house and settled at her grandparents’ place. I hope she will keep her passion for travel, real and pretend, for all her life and that she will eventually get to visit many places that are now opening up in front of her in books and movies.

Share your adventures in time and space at History and Geography exchange at History/Geography Exchange hosted by Children Grow, Children Explore, Children Learn.

13 comments:

Christy said...

I am so jealous of all of your travel. I have traveled all over the continental US and to Canada, Mexico, and a few islands but that is it. I'm hoping to do more traveling as the kids get a bit older.

Kylie said...

oh me too......you have been to and seen so many amazing places. :)

Annette W. said...

My husband and I are not much for traveling...he's been to the opposite (West) coast several times...me once. I've been to Canada and that's it for foreign travel.

With that said, other than books we don't have many natural teachable moments in geography. Though the grandparents live 5 hours away, we're even in the same state! We do talk about where others live and travel though and use books...but for us I guess it's easy to teach the home first approach.

An Almost Unschooling Mom said...

Seeing a place definitely makes it more real, and memorable. I haven't done much traveling out of the US and Canada, but seeing the Civil War battle fields, the cliff dwellings at Mesa Verde, or places like Yellowstone, and Mt. Rushmore, have been highlights of my "studies".

Debbie said...

I haven't had the opportunities to do a lot of traveling, but it was always a passion I carried. I agree with you the best geography and history lessons are those that we are passionate about. I also hope that Selena carries the same passion through her life as she has now, and maybe someday she will have the opportunity to do what I didn't get to do, travel.

Julie said...

My husband and I both love to travel, so we also want to instill that love in our children as well. I also agree with your idea of taking a "personal interest" approach as that is what we do. I almost always let the kids decide which area of the world they want to learn about because I figure if it doesn't interest them, they aren't going to get as much out of it.

MaryAnne said...

I also feel geography is very important. My childhood was divided between five very different countries, and experiencing the different cultures and traditions opened both my mind and heart. Mike and I are hoping to give our children many travel experiences, and hopefully we can even manage to live in a foreign country with them for at least a few months.

vanessa @ silly eagle books said...

Travel is such an important thing to us, too. I love letting Juliet learn more about the bigger world around us.

Infant Bibliophile said...

Wonderful post! We are of a somewhat similar mindset here in our approach to teaching geography. I let the little guy choose where to study, and we use world maps and globes more often than U.S., although we have a U.S. map too. I haven't traveled nearly as often as you, but my husband is also from a foreign country (New Zealand) and we have had relatives at various times living in NZ, Australia, Spain, around the U.S., etc., and I like to show him where all of his kin live. More than anything, I like to fill him with possibilities. We often say, after we've found a place and talked about it, "Would you like to visit there someday?" and the answer is of course always "yes!"

Aging Mommy said...

I didn't get to travel as a young child, quite the opposite, but my father had a job that took him to all corners of the globe long before it became common for people to do so, which is perhaps where I got my need for travel from, who knows. I think an adventurous spirit is innate though to some degree but I agree nurturing an interest in the world is a very good thing to do also. Fascinating learning about all your travels, I did not know your roots lay in Russia.

Elise said...

Learning about other countries, cultures and traditions is fascinating. To actually experience another culture, hear the language, taste the foods etc definately is memorable. We would love to travel to another country with our children and create some life long memories doing this.

The girl who painted trees said...

We love to travel, but not with young children lol. I can't wait for them to be older so we can start to again. I think traveling abroad helps a person understand other perspectives better, especially if the travel experience is not just a all-inclusive resort or 5 star hotel. You are very fortunate to have traveled so much.

My Family My Forever said...

You are very blessed to have traveled so much! I am a bit of a chicken when it comes to going to some of the places you've been to, but would love to internally:-).

I agree with the approach of personal interest learning not only with Geography, but with almost every subject.