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- Travel for the Teacher: Better than Professional Development - July 5, 2016
- Dewey in 2016: Still Relevant? - June 20, 2016
- Should You Adjunct Teach? A Checklist for Potential Part-time Professors - June 14, 2016
- Transition Time: Finding the Right School Fit Over Summer - June 3, 2016
- Graduations, Endorphins, and Persistence - May 31, 2016
As I write this, my family and I are preparing for a long voyage overseas. A few months ago, I learned that I had been accepted to the Disquiet International Literary Program in Lisbon, Portugal. This series of workshops with famous writers is held in one of Europe’s most historic and beautiful cities. Perhaps even better, though, the writers who are invited as teachers are world renowned. For example, Denis Johnson, author of Jesus’ Son and other notable works of fiction, is one of the workshop leaders.
But there’s more. Aside from the learning experience in writing workshops and panels, my family and I will be experiencing a land that has much to offer. Portugal is home to castles, caves, museums, and aquariums, for starters. Then there’s the food. Whether it’s the pastries, the broad selection of fish, or another of the country’s signature dishes, Lisbon has mastered the art of cuisine.
My sons, ages 11 and 8, have been taught American table manners since birth. This trip, for them, will represent a seismic shift in expectations. The knife stays in the right hand while the fork stays on the left, even while eating. The napkin remains on the table. Your hands must be visible at all times. Many of these new rules will allow them to see a side of the globe that is less geographic and more cultural.
I don’t mean to brag. In fact, my purpose in writing this article is not just to share my travel plans; it’s to make a point about education. When we teachers travel, it allows our brains to absorb new and fascinating ways of doing things. The way of life in Portugal is very different from what we enjoy. And it is this kind of international experience that allows educators to begin thinking outside the box.