What is education ?
According to Wikipedia:
Education is a form of learning in which the knowledge, skills, values, beliefs and habits of a group of people are transferred from one generation to the next through storytelling, discussion, teaching, training, and or research.
Education is recognized as the knowledge or content we take away from our compounded learning experiences and processed through our own individual perspectives.
Individual perspective, huh? Is that a worldview?
Not exactly, however our individual perspectives help make up our own unique worldviews.
What are worldviews and why are they important?
*A world view is the fundamental cognitive orientation of an individual or group that encompasses the body of knowledge resulting in a specific perspective.
Worldviews are the framework through which individuals interpret the world. Many worldviews are collective, shared by groups, nations or specific cultures but no blanket worldviews exist for everyone. However common worldviews originate from unique world experiences shared by a group of people (society, nation etc), which they may have experienced over several millennia.
Furthermore, every single human being on this planet experiences the world through their own lens, influenced by their culture, economic status, gender, biology, environment, family (and endless other variables). Regardless of the influences, worldviews define one thing: How each and every person on this planet relate to the world around them.
*More on worldviews found on Wikipidia.
How do these worldviews affect learning?
As world schoolers, we learn through the world, inhabited by people with countless worldviews. Many of us include travel as part of our education. Therefore, multiple worldviews influence our experiences and ultimately, our learning.
Well first let’s look at our own worldviews and how they affect learning.
When two people engage in the same activity, have the exact same experience or study identical information, it’s probable that each person will process the information differently based upon their personal perspectives. How is that so? Isn’t information objective existing outside of our own realities?
No information, lesson nor experience can be perceived outside of the perceiver, therefore the information, lessons and experiences run through our individual filters. We process knowledge and information through our unique worldviews which helps define how we function within the world.
Next, as travel provides immersive experiences, are we not experiencing the world within the context of someone else’s perspective? In other words, if we are learning how to weave, being shown the art and skills practiced and passed down from generation to generation, are we not learning the process through their worldview? Do they not hold in their hands a cultural memory which is shared as metadata? Their worldviews help shape our experiences too.
What purpose do “worldviews” serve in our lives?
We spend a lifetime acquiring knowledge assembled through our experiences which help us to make sense of the world. That is vital to our survival. But it is also one sided.
Without having the skill to recognize that other worldviews differ from our own, we never step into compassion or empathy. An experience of the world without compassion or empathy is simply a narrow and limiting experience.
How do we experience worldviews?
Growing up I was not exposed to the idea that worldviews different from my own exist. Sure, intellectually I knew there were different belief systems, different countries, different ways of life, but I never once considered there were different manners in which people perceive the world. I recognized there were many superficial differences between people. That was obvious. But those differences were always something that was “out there” and completely insignificant to my own life.
Even through adulthood (before I began traveling), I recognize that my worldview was limited to my finite life, and there wasn’t a whole lot of consciousness outside of that bubble. My limited world view was a result of my cultural indoctrination (as is likely yours).
What a small, small worldview I once had.
Additionally, most of us never learn how to discern our own worldviews from our inherited belief systems adapted and absorbed along the way. Most of us passionately defend those belief systems (as if our reality depends on it). And certainly, most of us were never taught to extend compassion to others with differing worldviews or perspectives.
If we had, would it not be a much more peaceful planet?
Fear and worldviews
In my observation, many perceive contrasting worldviews through the lens of fear. Can you guess how fear affects compassion or empathy? If one experiences different worldviews through the lens of fear, the result is judgment, dismissal and even violent opposition.
Could this be the root causes of xenophobia that lead to wars and other human injustices?
Travel, world schooling & worldviews
How does travel teach sensitivity for worldviews?
Through travel, children (and adults) are exposed to different worldviews. From fisherman who view the oceans as their livelihood and a means of providing for their families to the conservationist who is passionate about protecting the species within. From the family of herders living high in the Andes tending to their alpacas to the sugar cane growers living on the coast. There are a million examples in between, all with overlapping and degrees of similar and differing worldviews.
Travel allows us to see the variety of worldviews expressed through the lives of many, all equally valid and unique.
Through travel we get to notice the differences between our own worldviews and the worldviews of others.
Here are some questions to help you and your family develop a deeper connection to worldviews. As a family, start a discussion about the people you encountered during the day. It doesn’t matter if you are in or outside of your home country, everyone has worldviews.
How do you think ____________ views the world?
How do you think ____________ is meeting their basic needs?
What seems to be ____________ biggest concerns?
What are some of the similarities you noticed about ____________ in relation to your own worldviews?
What are the differences?
How does ____________ do things differently than you do in your home?
What do you think motivates ____________ ?
Finally, how can you stand with ____________ , shoulder to shoulder as you see the world through their eyes?
Through travel, we are invited to see people based on our mutual humanity.
In my opinion world schooling is the most valuable gift you can give your child, encouraging a greater connection to the world and its infinite worldviews. Through that experience, we have the opportunity to learn and practice empathy, expend compassion and respectfully exchange differing perspectives.
In the process, we as world schoolers leave our legacy; a more peaceful world.
**All photos in this article were taken during our 2009 trip to Nicaragua.