Through the Eyes of an Educator: Touring Home

by Stacey Ebert / Aug 07, 2017 /
When out of town guests come to visit, do you make a list of suggested sights for them to see and recommended experiences in which they might wish to take part? Have you taken them around your neighborhood, town, city, or state, and thought, ‘I should spend more time being a tourist/traveler in my own city’? If we sit and think about it, we might remember those dioramas we created in our youth that included the weather, climate, and our town’s local establishments. Perhaps we recall the first three-dimensional map of our hometown we had to make, or the directions we had to write to send a friend from our house to the closest post office or ice cream shop. No matter what, when we shift our perspective and put on that travel brain at home, we look at our surroundings with entirely new eyes. 
 
San Diego Maritime Museum - submarine. From Through the Eyes of an Educator: Touring Home
San Diego Maritime Museum - submarine
 
Isn’t that what we want for our students? Teachers, parents, mentors, tutors, advisors, counselors, and champions of children wish to see faces light up at the thought of learning something, interests peak at the mention of a day trip, and desire sparked by a conversation of an educational nature. In a world where tweets and posts whiz past our faces before we can even click like or share, interest is often hard to come by, and apathy is palpable. Enter travel. For some reason, the prospect of a new adventure does something to our brain chemistry. We perk up, find excitement, entertain more kindness, channel joy, and look forward to launch day. What if we could bundle that energy and use it for an educational purpose? What if learning and excitement could go hand in hand and everyday experiences could translate into classroom triumphs? What if we took a new look at our usual and explored the local area with a different outlook? The take away is far greater than we imagine.
Dr. Seuss exhibit at the San Diego History Center. From Through the Eyes of an Educator: Touring Home
Dr. Seuss exhibit at the San Diego History Center
 
There’s a difference in visiting a place and staying put for a while. There’s a difference in being on vacation and living somewhere. What if we could bridge the gap? How do we take the good hype of travel and apply it to our educational experiences? Becoming a traveler in your own city does exactly that. Whether you plan the day or totally wing it, book a new tour or choose spontaneously, check out a different ethnic cuisine for the first time, or retrace familiar steps with open eyes, choosing travel brings to light that which you may not have seen in the norm of the everyday.
San Diego Zoo. From Through the Eyes of an Educator: Touring Home
San Diego Zoo
 
How do we do that? How do we encourage our students and our young travelers to find those ‘travel eyes’ on their own streets? Where can you go, what can you do, how can we ‘train’ the next generation to bring the spark of impending travel to their day to day journeys? How do we make the jump from outside experiences to inside classroom discoveries? Start them young is the best option, but there’s no ‘wrong’ time to set a new course. These efforts don’t have to be big and flashy, they don’t have to cost anything at all, and they don’t have to last days on end. Simple shifts make a huge difference. 
 
Old Town San Diego. From Through the Eyes of an Educator: Touring Home
Old Town San Diego
 
Does your typical weekend involve errands, chores, lessons, and birthday parties? These are the moments to ditch the I have to attitude, leave the dishes in the sink, and deal with it later. Go for a walk on a new path, hop in the car, and find a new farmer’s market each weekend, or grab some free tickets from your local library and get to a museum within driving distance. Take a month of Sundays and let everyone in the family plan an outing for the day. Google the hottest new brunch spot or sign up for that family kayaking excursion, robotics seminar, or pottery class…just because. Maybe you go stargazing in October, volunteer at an organization close to your heart, or jump on a train to take the journey and head wherever you can get to in a day. 
 
Cabrillo National Monument. From Through the Eyes of an Educator: Touring Home
Cabrillo National Monument
 
Think of those who come to visit. There are those who come once and they want to tick off the must sees on your city/town’s list. And what about those repeat visitors who now have the time and inclination to get off the beaten path and check out that weird, unusual, historical, relaxing, or whatever category of item/sight they couldn’t fit in the first time. What are those? Add them to the first one, put them all on your list, grab your best walking shoes, pack your daypack full of snacks, and lock up the house. Sometimes these excursions will go hand in hand with the curriculum you’re following. Sometimes they’ll fit in with your unschooler’s interests. Sometimes those memory-making adventures will fall into the category of broadening their horizons, enhancing diversity, discovering humanity, communing with nature, embracing kindness, and helping them become more learned, creative, talented, enlightened, better humans. All are important in a child’s education.
 
There’s a reason you live where you do, right? For some, it’s history or heritage, for others, it’s schools or security. For some, it’s work or well-being, and for others, it’s a sense of adventure or access. Perhaps it’s something different for you - but whether you love where you are or are looking for a change, there’s something nearby that might make you proud, make you smile, or make you dream. Whether it’s a two minute walk, a two minute bike-ride, a two hour drive, or two hours on public transport - take the time, change it up, liven your day, and channel that travel spirit. The student in your family (and the learner in you) will thank you for it.
 
International Sand Sculpting Competition. From Through the Eyes of an Educator: Touring Home
International Sand Sculpting Competition
 

15 Ideas to bring out your inner traveling tourist

 
1. Web search the top things to see in your city/town, keep a list, and tick them off as you do them
2. Crowd-source friends and family for their favorite must see/must do ideas
3. Check out those museums and historical societies nearby
4. Hit up the local farm or farm stand and see if you can get a tour 
5. Find what your town/city does best and visit many of them (i.e., farmer’s market, coffee shops, hiking trails, museums, cooking classes, etc.)
6. Take a lesson or try a new sport each week/month
7. Fling some lunch in the car and take off in a new direction for the day
8. Let the kids be the tour guide - watch how they view their surroundings
9. Find a volunteer cause you support and spend the afternoon helping others
10. Get your favorite vacation only treat and enjoy it at a local park/beach/mountain/desert/plaza
11. Take in a show/concert/game at the entertainment venue nearby
12. Grab that coupon for those places others visit that are often too expensive for the everyday
13. Ditch the car and either walk, bike, or ride public transportation throughout your city to get to your destinations - see how the world looks different from this new perspective
14. Hit up those different grocery stores that showcase traditional ethnic foods to learn more about other communities that may live right next door
15. Take a walking tour or guided tour around your city and watch, listen, and learn as the history you interact with every day unfolds anew
 
Torrey Pines State Reserve. From Through the Eyes of an Educator: Touring Home
Torrey Pines State Reserve
 
Stacey Ebert, our Educational Travels Editor, is a traveler at heart who met her Australian-born husband while on a trip in New Zealand. Stacey was an extracurricular advisor and taught history in a Long Island public high school for over fifteen years, enjoying both the formal and informal educational practices. After a one year 'round the world honeymoon, travel and its many gifts changed her perspective. She has since left the educational world to focus on writing and travel. She is energetic and enthusiastic about long term travel, finding what makes you happy and making the leap. In her spare time she is an event planner, yogi, dark chocolate lover, and spends as much time as possible with her toes in the sand.
 
Check out her website at thegiftoftravel.wordpress.com for more of her travel musings.
 
 
 
All photos courtesy and copyright Stacey Ebert
 
 
 
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