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VOL. 129 | NO. 175 | Tuesday, September 9, 2014


Lance Wiedower

The Best Education Comes When Traveling

By Lance Wiedower

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Proponents of formal classroom education, the following message might not be for you.

In my opinion, the best education comes on the road, even if it means taking the kids out of school for a few days.

Yeah, I said it. Me, the high school student who took pride in never missing a day of school, even if my report card looked like my head was elsewhere half the time. Me, the parent who fights to get my son to concentrate on his homework on a nightly basis.

What children learn in the classroom is crucial to their development, but I believe a well-rounded education comes from experiencing the world, even in destinations not as culturally rich as Rome, Machu Picchu or Istanbul.

We’ve taken our son to a lot of unique places in the past year – New Mexico, New York City and Puerto Rico are highlights. But two destinations that might not seem special on the surface actually have played small but important roles in our son’s growing appreciation of art. And in both instances we took him out of school for a day.

We visited two art museums in Indianapolis last September and also went to the impressive High Museum of Art in Atlanta earlier this year. Those museums were small parts of both trips, but taken together with museum visits in other cities, I believe he’s developing an appreciation of art that will only grow as he gets older.

In a nine-month period, he’s visited 10 art museums. I’m sure he was bored at times – he’s 7. But watching him sketch and photograph art instead of playing on my iPhone the entire time, I’m confident that he is better off having had these experiences.

We’ll be taking him out of school for a couple of days soon for a trip to Traverse City, Mich.

This small town on the beautiful coast of Lake Michigan is a foodie paradise. The region features numerous wineries and breweries, and it’s a major cherry-growing destination.

But none of that matters to a kid, especially one who just wants macaroni and cheese. At first I struggled to justify taking him out of school for this trip.

But when I began researching the area, I discovered the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore on Lake Michigan. I’m excited about the opportunity to take him kayaking on the small lakes of northern Michigan, bike riding through the vineyards of Leelanau Peninsula, and discovering the important shipping heritage of the Great Lakes with the tall schooners.

I’m a big believer in travel during the shoulder season for smaller crowds and better prices. I won’t judge a parent who takes kids out of school for a couple of days to go to Disney so the crowds aren’t so bad.

If you feel roped into the idea that travel can only happen during school breaks, remember that travel is an important part of a kid’s education. Yes, your child might have to make up a couple days of missed math work or that all-important spelling test. But how can they look back at travel memories 20 years from now if you never gave them the chance to travel?

Managing editor Lance Wiedower’s column appears every other Tuesday in The Daily News and The Memphis News. For more travel inspiration, read his blog at tripsbylance.com or follow him on Twitter at @tripsbylance.

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