Practical Application, Travel
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Travel as Education by Gladys Schaefer

“The world is a book and those who do not travel read only one page.” — St. Augustine

Charlotte Mason’s Example

Travel changes you forever.  Charlotte Mason knew this and the wealth she gathered from her adventures continues to bless us today.

I think of her trip to Florence, Italy.  As she stood in front of a fresco, led there by John Ruskin and his little book, Mornings in Florence, her perspective was changed forever.  Andre Da Firenza painted “The Descent of the Holy Spirit” on the walls of the Spanish Chapel at Santa Maria Novella.  With Ruskin’s help, she came to realize that all of education is the work of the Holy Spirit.

From Parents and Children by Charlotte Mason

Subjects Divinely Taught––And what subjects are under the direction of this Divine Teacher? The child’s faith and hope and charity––that we already knew; his temperance, justice, prudence and fortitude––that we might have guessed; his grammar, rhetoric, logic, music, astronomy, geometry, arithmetic––this we might have forgotten, if these Florentine teachers had not reminded us; his practical skill in the use of tools and instruments, from a knife and fork to a microscope, and in the sensible management of all the affairs of life––these also come from the Lord, which is wonderful in counsel and excellent in working. His God doth instruct him and doth teach him. Let the mother visualise the thought as an illuminated scroll about her newborn child, and let her never contemplate any kind of instruction for her child, except under the sense of the divine co-operation.

This trip to Florence was a turning point in her life, a time when she took, as the poet Robert Frost suggests, “the road less traveled by.”  Later in her life, she would make a yearly trip to Germany for a time to refresh and renew her body and her spirit.  We would be wise to follow her example in finding time to renew ourselves.

Travel Today

What does travel offer us today?  My own experience is that it has changed me for the better.

I love to travel.  Packing a bag, boarding the plane, heaven is in my reach.  New adventures offer me new perspectives, new ways to see the world.

Mission trips are a fantastic way to alter your worldview.  Our family is blessed to be part of very missions minded church congregation. With a membership of about 150, our church has sent individuals and/or teams to Africa, Thailand, Ecuador, Turkey, Honduras, Canada, the United Arab Emirates and numerous places in the US.  God has blessed us and it is interesting to see how one trip spurs on the next.  Our youth, starting in seventh grade, have an opportunity each summer to travel with the youth choir on a weeklong trip.  From New York City, New York to Brunswick, Georgia, the trip differs each year.  I have watched as the seeds planted during this one week away alter these students for life.  One young man, graduating this May with a degree in Engineering, is now planning on going to seminary and spends his summers caring for people in the mountains of South America.  Travel has changed him.

How to Add Travel to your Life

How can you add travel to your family’s life?  Opportunities abound.   One of the definitions of travel, from the Merriam Webster Dictionary, is “a journey, especially to a distant or unfamiliar place.”

Mission Trips – From your local church to national organizations, possibilities are vast.   Check the website of your church and its affiliation.

Field Trips – Day Trips – We live about three hours from Atlanta, Georgia and travel there a few times a year to explore the big city.  We schedule our Shakespeare readings around what is being performed at the New American Shakespeare Tavern.  Check your local papers, arts councils, art museums, local historical sites for possibilities that are close to you.

School Holidays – We love to stay in a beautiful state park in North Alabama, where our nature walks give us new tracks to follow, new birds to discover, new moments to just “be.”  Look around; you might be closer than you think to a new adventure. For information on our National Park System check their website.

Libraries and Bookstores – Start planning now.  If the funds aren’t quite ready for the trip, never fear.  Travel down to your local library and check out books and films about your dream destinations. A large part of the delight of a trip is in the planning.  As Mason learned in the chapel in Florence so many years ago, the Holy Spirit can be trusted.  Oh, the places you’ll go!

Real World Examples

Now for some quotes from my favorite homeschooled world travelers, four of my daughters:

Travel teaches me how to be in the “real” world a little bit more, being able to get on and off trains, for example. It helps me be more outgoing and has taught me that there is more than the here and now, that there is more beyond 2010 and more places to explore. Travel has changed my palate, what I find enjoyable to eat.  I’ve tried squid, octopus, and I love conch salad.

Mollie Schaefer

Homeschooling Freshman

It has helped me cope with the unexpected.  It has taught me how to make friends in two minutes.  I love, like, being somewhere that my friends have never been. It’s so fun to wake up in a foreign country and do things you never expected to do, like biking through the Alps.

Hope Schaefer

Homeschooling Junior

What I explained in all of my college essays & applications is that traveling widens your horizons and really opens your mind to other people and cultures.  It changes your worldview.  It makes you more aware of what is happening outside the US, and helps you realize how blessed you are.  It’s always exciting to discover new places and experience them with people you love.

Ruthie Schaefer

Freshman at Auburn University

Majoring in Pre-Nursing

Travel equals freedom.  Every piece of the world and every culture that you come into contact with also makes contact with you and changes you forever. You see that the world is the same and yet completely different every single time.  I think traveling to a bookstore in your downtown can be as exotic as finding yourself with your toes in the Mediterranean Sea.

Hannah Schaefer

Sophomore at University of Colorado, Denver

Pursuing Double Major in International Studies and Writing

May the road rise to meet you.  May the wind be always at your back.

May the sun shine warm upon your face. – Irish Blessing

I love to go new places – my tile lady J

© 2010 Gladys Schaefer

This entry was posted in: Practical Application, Travel


Carroll Smith has spoken on various topics related to Charlotte Mason. Currently he teaches at Gardner-Webb University and enjoys working with children, teachers, college students, and Charlotte Mason Institute. He was a teacher and a principal for 21 years before coming to Gardner-Webb University where he has been for six years. Having grown up in eastern North Carolina, he attended East Carolina University for his undergraduate degree and his master's in school administration. He completed his terminal degree and wrote his dissertation on Charlotte Mason at Virginia Tech. Carroll enjoys reading, gardening, and discussing ideas with friends. He and his wife, Andra, and their two young adult college-age children, Corban and Anna, enjoy living, working and playing in North Carolina.

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