Traveling with Jay Cross and Ellen Wagner in Berlin last December, we hit a great museum where they had artifacts from aa major period of German dominance. It was easy to use those concrete representations of life at the times, and the annotations (as well as Jay & Ellen’s learned commentary) as a foundation to think about the historic changes.
Thinking about the way we ,as a family, like to travel – studying up beforehand, choosing places that most concisely represent and communicate the local history and culture (and dining in ways to understand the best the culture has to offer :), and reading as we go along – it seems a great way to ground learning via experience. And experiential learning is powerful learning, connecting personal experience as context to conceptual models.
I personally like to understand the ebb and flow of civilizations. My late friend Joe Cotter was a PhD in history, and taught me a little bit about how to think like a historian (not just to know history), thinking about causal forces. I try to apply that, as well as admittedly geeking out on weapons and castles.
I’ve always felt that the old cliche is true, that travel broadens you. If you go with your eyes open, you can see the world from a different perspective, and even look at your own country differently. I really value the time I spent living in Australia, not only because of the fabulous friends and great experiences, but the ability to look back at the US and get a valuable extension on my understanding.
It’s one thing to read about it, but to immerse yourself in the cuture and the artifacts with an overarching narrative really helps connect the broader context to the specifics. I hope you have the chance to have a similar experience.