Literacy and Travel as Metaphor: Learning to Travel, Traveling to Learn

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Amiro, Kristen
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Literacy is more than the ability to decode words on a page, just as travel is more than checking off a list of landmarks. Travelers, readers and writers create meaning by engaging with texts whether those texts are based in language or place. Cultivating stillness, becoming consciousness of mediation and being open to risk-taking and surprise are three ways in which travelers, readers and writers can enhance their learning experiences. This research poses the questions: How do travel and literacy resonate with each other metaphorically? How can a teacher apply the connections between travel and literacy in the classroom? Both the experience of traveling in different cultures and the habit of documenting that experience sharpened my curiosity about approaches to and perspectives on travel as well as the reading and writing that were an important part of the journey. I am a high school English and Social Studies teacher who backpacked around the world for nine months and experienced that travel through the lenses of my own reading and writing. During my travels, I kept notebooks with poems and writing, took photographs, and, with my traveling partner, kept an online blog of our experiences. Using this material as data, and applying the methodological practices of writing as inquiry in this thesis, I explore the hypothesis that travel and literacy are metaphorically resonant and the comparison between the two offers insights into teaching and learning. Part 1 of this thesis contains the thesis overview, a description of who I am as a researcher, traveler, reader and writer, and the literature review. Part 2 consists of three narratives based on the three themes that emerged to describe the metaphorical resonance I found between travel and literacy: the importance of stillness, the consciousness of mediation, and the value of risk-taking and openness to surprise. This section includes some writing I did while traveling. Part 3 synthesizes the narratives with the theoretical literature and discusses the applications of my findings to classroom practice. These reflective pieces are the means through which I gained insights into my own literacy and travel practices and perspectives.
Literacy , International education , Globalization , Multicultural education