Realizing that observing means different things to people, I set out last school year with a goal to teach my students how important it was to observe the world around them and then how to do it. Every day we had a discussion about what we’ve observed. Starting out with Dictionary.com and the definition of this crucial life skill, the first one is to see, watch, perceive, or notice. Okay, done. However, seeing something is not enough. It’s the second definition of the word that I wanted to to teach them, “to
I think many travelers have mastered this skill, but I also know many who have not. I can’t say I don’t travel to see things. I am just as interested in seeing the Taj Mahal or the Seine as anyone, but it’s not the only thing that keeps me interested. I want to observe daily life, parents and children, important family events, art in all forms, workers of all kinds, transportation systems. I want to learn about the culture, experience the food, the dance, and try to understand what it is like to live there in that climate, or with that pollution, or without running water, or having to wait on the road and hitchhike to go to town.
Traveling, and most importantly, really observing the lives of the people who live there, helps me to try and put the world in perspective. It certainly makes me realize how spoiled and lucky I have been in life, and helps me to appreciate diversity.
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What do you think? Are you an observer? Is it a crucial life skill?
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