“Never let school interfere with your education.”

While there’s plenty of debate over who actually originated that quote, and the context in which they said it, nobody argues the point — life’s real education happens outside the classroom.

For so many of us who suffer from wanderlust, finishing school is the roadblock that keeps us from living the dream and hitting the road. It’s a cruel irony that our education can stand in the way of our education.

This gallery is a collection of images and arguments that prove beyond the shadow of a doubt that classrooms and textbooks are only one way we learn, and that travel is, in fact, the best form of education.

1

Crysta Parkinson

"The world is the best classroom I could think of for our four-year-old daughter, Bria. In her short life she has been to five countries, exploring and learning up close and personal. She has seen Maori carvings in New Zealand, visited the Straw Market in Nassau, and investigated an indigenous village in Costa Rica. You can’t get those lessons from a textbook. This photo was taken at the Atlantis Resort in Paradise Island, Bahamas, where she learned about marine life in the best way possible – with her hands."

2

Nat Kuleba

"To know that you are here to live a life of bliss, excitement, and adventure. That you are here for a short time and are meant to explore the depth, wonder, and beauty of this thing called Life. To learn this and experience this from a very young age is a gift that absolutely comes from the freedom of seeing this glorious planet and the wonders on it. Travel teaches you how to live a life of total joy and passion in all that you do – it shows you the uniqueness of this world, it teaches you how to see inside and outside yourself, it expands your mind, it shows you deep appreciation for every moment, it teaches you compassion, it deepens your relationships and opens life doors for new and wondrous opportunities – it is the best form of education by any means. Travel is real school."

3

Johanna Nyman

"The best way to educate children is by traveling, showing them the world and how different peoples live their lives. An even better way of learning may be to live in another place for a while. This picture shows my daughter while we lived in a small town called Miramar in Argentina. It was not only a trip to the other side of the world, it was a trip that showed us a bit more of ourselves and about who we are, as the exciting days became every day life. To travel is to discover new places as much as it is to discover ourselves."

4

Emily Stewart

"The town of Oundle was proud to support the Women's Tour Grand Depart in May. The Tour Series is the British equivalent to the Tour de France except it also has a separate women's race. The entire town, including schoolchildren, came out to cheer on the female racers. While most major races prohibit females, I was inspired to see schools empowering women, young and old, within a male-dominated sport."

5

Bethany Coan

"'Would you like to learn cat gut?' asked Thao, a young and energetic Sister. Having experienced the phenomenon a week prior at a Buddhist monastery in Hue, Vietnam, we were still pondering the mystery behind the practice of cat gut. Illegal in the United States and now made of synthetic materials (no longer cat parts), the sharp two-centimeter long cat gut is threaded into a hypodermic needle then injected deep into the many layers of human skin to work out aches and pains over a prolonged period of time (more than acupuncture needles alone) before being absorbed by the body. Now at a Catholic convent an hour and a half outside of Hue (only accessible by motorbikes on windy dirt-roads), the tables had turned and we were practicing the procedure on the trusting and eager Hao, an open-minded acupuncture student."

6

Abby Gallagher

"The young children in the Hill Tribes of Chiang Mai, Thailand have a lesson to teach us about learning itself. The 60 people that make up this particular tribe brought us into their small settlement to teach about their education system. It is mirrored as a Western school but is taught by the two adults who are the most educated. They let us into their classroom, showed off their school’s song and dance then fed us at lunch time. The most important lesson is something you cannot buy with college tuition; it is watching those with nothing share everything with you, and that is an invaluable moment."

7

Marie King

"Travel gives us something that a formal education cannot – a true sense of reality and compassion for how others live. To learn about something from books and in articles on the internet is an entirely different experience from seeing it yourself, and it is something you will not expect or be able to prepare for. To understand the very traditional simple lives that are lived next door to a thriving modern city. To be approached on the street by children begging for a quarter. You don’t know how your body and mind will respond to the raw reality. Everyone should experience this sense of travel, to gain a deeper connection and understanding of humanity."

8

Alia Radman

"This photo was taken in Desert Agafay, just outside of Marrakech near the Atlas Mountains. The best education for me was time spent with others or alone in different environments."

9

Heather Sinclair

"The complexity of mass poverty is rarely explored in North American public education. I had a chance to not just learn but feel the perpetual cycle of poverty in the rural community of Sinazeze in Zambia’s southern province. This was a community underrepresented by their government; I saw failed education, religion, and lack of basic resources. Despite the abandonment, there was optimism. School does not properly teach compassion, but travel will."

10

Tony Toto

"I’m on a docent-led tour of the Mayall 4-M Optical Telescope that is located just below the 6,875-foot summit at the Kitt Peak National Observatory on the Tohono O’odham Nation, southwest of Tucson, Arizona. I learn that the Mayall has a prime focal length of f2.7, the dome and primary mirror weigh 35 and 15 tons respectively and the mirror is polished to one-millionth of an inch. I stand in wonderment at the possibility of the celestial photos this technological behemoth captures. After a 360-degree view of the observatory and Sonoran Desert from the Mayall’s scenic viewing gallery, the tour makes its way outside where I capture a photo of what I refer to as “Telescopic Skyline.” The Kitt Peak Visitor Center’s mission is to inspire wonder and awe and to inform and educate the public about basic astronomy and the scientific method through exhibits, programs, and tours – they succeed in this mission admirably."

11

Stephanie Saint

"I’ve been living and teaching in South Korea for the past seven months. This is a picture of one of my kindergarten students and a co-worker on the roof of our school building. For me, the image encapsulates the concept that travel is the greatest form of education. Since moving abroad I’ve adapted to life in the weird and wonderful concrete jungle that is Seoul, learned how to (semi)control a classroom full of children, and formed many new friendships with some really wonderful people."

12

Christine Parcells

"When we look at something – a person, an image, an animal, whatever it might be – we make judgments and assumptions due to how our own culture and society have conditioned us. Graffiti in the United States has a mostly negative connotation, while in other countries it may not. In Buenos Aires there is a strong street artist movement to adorn public walls with art – all with the permission from the building’s owners. The art is not vandalism, but serves a larger purpose of expression, creativity, and satire. Traveling allows us to rethink the snap judgments we make and opens our minds to new interpretations."

13

Samantha Bilkey

"Over the past few years I realized that I learned and was emotionally impacted more from my travels than I was in any classroom my entire life. I took a fifth year in college to study abroad in Santiago de Compostela, Galicia, Spain (the end of the road for the Pilgrimage of St. James). I immersed myself as much as possible in the culture. One of the best ways to do so was trying all the local foods, such as grilled octopus slathered in olive oil and paprika served on a wooden platter for tapas. Having a home base in Europe also enabled me to travel around easily. I quickly understood how to avoid waiting in long museum lines, read maps, and the joy of traveling alone. Probably one of my best moments from that year was when I went to Rome for spring break all by myself and I realized, over my margherita pizza, wine, and tiramisu all just for me, how grown up and proud I felt to be on my own in a new country with only myself to worry about."

14

Amy Edwards

"I’m a nurse from Canada who works in hospitals where the main language is English. In this picture I was in a garbage dump village in Mae Sot, Thailand, working with Burmese refugees who did not speak a word of English. There I was with a backpack full of gauze, iodine, and bandages, with no translator and many patients who didn’t have a basic knowledge of their own anatomy, trying to diagnose everything from heart burn to tuberculosis and malaria. No doctor, no translator, just my own powers of observation, a lot of sign language and trusting my gut. I wouldn’t trade what I learned from that experience for the world!"

15

Vicki Jones

"Friends from Brazil, Argentina and the United States sit around a plastic table outside of a salumeria located in a rural town 30 minutes from Pergamino, Argentina. The deli man prepared us a mountain of cubed salami, mortadella, and provolone cheese. After handing us the plate he pointed across the street and told us to buy our bread from the woman who owns the bread shop. Though bread pairs with the food he sells, he told us he doesn't sell it out of respect for his neighbor's business. Such a simple gesture cultivates an environment of sharing and mutual respect."

16

Maria Christina Rizopoulou

"During our visit in the Sinai region in Egypt we had the chance to spend some time with the local Bedouins and learn about their life. One thing that struck me was that the Bedouin girls there have to work hard from a very young age, to assist for instance in the family camel breeding. However, unlike the boys, they are not allowed to get any basic education at all."

17

Samantha Lucey

"Travel is the best form of education because it gives you the opportunity to visit the places and schools that marked an inspirational change in your country's history. The picture above is from the Monroe School in Topeka, Kansas that was recognized for the Brown vs. Board of Education Supreme Court case. When the Supreme Court ruled that separate school systems for blacks and whites were inherently unequal, and thus violating the Fourteenth Amendment of the U.S Constitution. Just having the chance to touch and see the subjects that were once in a ripped page of a textbook is a mixture of emotions that you will never be able to forget."

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