Debate Topic - Travel Broadens The MindI am currently involved in a debate and was given this topic to debate upon. I have searched the forum and got one hit that directly related to this topic....

Debate Topic - Travel Broadens The Mind

I am currently involved in a debate and was given this topic to debate upon. I have searched the forum and got one hit that directly related to this topic. But I decided not to revive it as that topic was for the motion.

We are against this motion. =(
Does anyone have some insight or points that we could elaborate upon for this?

Also, any advice on how we should play this debate out is greatly appreciated.


Expert Answers
Ashley Kannan eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The previous post is quite accurate. I thought I would take a more metaphysical approach to it.   If you wanted to broaden the topic to be more symbolic, there is a way to suggest that travel is not needed to broaden the mind.  Individuals do not need to physically travel in order to broaden their mind.  The expansion of one's mind and moral imagination can be accomplished in any forum, so long as one is receptive to it.  The idea of "expanding one's mind" indicates that one is open to new experiences and embraces new ways of thought.  This does not have to be done through travel.  Reading books, talking with other people, engaging in meditative reflection can all accomplish the same purpose without travel.  It seems to be a false notion to indicate that one's mind can only be expanded with a physical change.  This makes the mental or psychological experience dependent on they physical one, a false premise indeed.  I am reminded of E.M. Forster's A Room with a View.  The title of it comes from an exchange where the main character wants a "room with a view."  An elderly man, whose room has a view, offers his room and says, "The view is in here" and points to his heart.  Indeed, broadening of one's mind is not something of physical movement, as much it is a mental, spiritual, or psychological exercise.

If you didn't like this, you could also take a more practical line of argument.  The advancement of information technology renders travel meaningless.  One no longer needs to travel if they have an internet connection, and can visit sites that features slide shows, pictures, video clips, and online information that can broaden the mind to the same extent as physical travel.

Again, these are potential arguments and they might assist you.  Being a travelling man myself, these are the best I could surmise.

mwestwood eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Post #3 is so well put, there is little to add.  But, to underscore what has been propounded, we need only to look at the life of the reclusive poet, Emily Dickinson, whose knowledge of the human condition was profound. 

She herself answered the question on travel in her poem "There is No Frigate Like a Book": 

There is no frigate like a book

To take us lands away,

Nor any coursers like a page

Of prancing poetry.

This traverse may the poorest take

Without oppress of toll;

How frugal is the chariot

That bears the human soul!

In other poems, Dickinson declares that she "knows" because of other experiences such as "Parting is all we know of heaven,/And all we need of hell.  Her poem "I Never Saw a Moor" expresses this idea thoroughly:

I never saw a moor;/I never saw the sea,/Yet know I how the heather looks/And what a billow be.

I never spoke with God,/Nor visited in heaven./Yet certain am I of the spot/As if the checks were given.


scarletpimpernel eNotes educator| Certified Educator

You do have the difficult side of the debate, don't you?!  The previous posts all thoroughly address the logical aspect of your debate; so I'll just add a little personal experience support.  I've taken several trips to other countries with my students, and while I believe that travel broadens the mind, one argument that you could use is that for some travelers, the activity actually narrows their mind and view on matters.  For example, some leave home and cannot help but criticize everything that they see in another culture, and they become more thoroughly convinced that their hometown is the best place and the center of all truth.  They are unable to escape their provincialism and narrow-mindedness, and even travel cannot cure this "affliction."

Just to add--the above is not what I believe or what I have witnessed most in others, but I have seen some young people respond this way to travel; so it may help you in your debate.

ask996 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Travel doesn’t broaden the mind, it merely confirms or disproves our own pre-established ideas of the culture, country, or people that our travels expose us to. Where do most people travel? Where they choose to travel. When we go on vacation, we choose where we go. When we go on mission trips, we choose where we want to go. Travel is a matter of choice, and do we ever travel to places that we don’t want to go? If someone hates the cold, would he or she travel to Siberia? That being said, when we travel we have already decided the why and wherefor of our travels, so there is really no broadening of our perspectives. We choose where we want to go, and since that is the case, it does not truly broaden our minds. For a mind to be truly broadened, one would have to be completely openminded about the experience, and we are rarely that because we have chosen the destination based on certain preconcpetions.

alohaspirit eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Well travel opens the mind up to new places and people.  When you meet people face to face and learn first hand about their culture you tend to become more open-minded.  When people are closed off from one another they build sterotypes and judgements based on what they hear about and what they see on tv.  On the flip side, travel can expose you to the negatives of a society, which every society has such as poverty, crime, disease, pollution, and ignorant people.  So if you traveled some place and did not have a pleasant experience and then you pass that knowledge onto other people, that might create a sterotype or stigma of that place.  Your one experience cannot label a country or region, but thats how humans are, we like labels and we live in fear, so if someone tells us a country is dangerous, we will believe them and never experience it for ourselves.

Lori Steinbach eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I travel abroad with students all the time, and I am a proponent of travel as an opportunity to learn and grow.  To that extent, every kind of new opportunity can broaden the mind.  New experiences = new learning and growing.  Your best argument, it seems to me, is that one can choose to let those new experiences broaden one's mind or not.  To that degree, then, travel and travel experiences are no more indicative of mind-broadening than any other experience in life. You took the challenging position, that's for sure. Good luck with this!

drmonica eNotes educator| Certified Educator

This is a tough one to debate against, but I’ll try.

Travel exposes a person to danger. When traveling to foreign places, one can be exposed to a variety of diseases and parasites. Airline travel can be particularly dangerous in certain countries and via certain airlines, with terrorism on the rise in the world. People from the West risk kidnapping and worse when they travel to the Middle East.

Hope this helps—good luck with your assignment!

thewanderlust878 | Student

Unfortunately, I actually agree, like many others, that travel does broaden the mind. Without going out and meeting new people, places, and things, you are stuck in a fixed mindset about a culture you have never experienced. 

Here is my opposing argument:

Traveling does not broaden the mind because for some, traveling does not agree with them. They do not like going new places, and they might not like the culture they are going to. Which could cause their viewpoint on a particular topic to shrink even further. 

ricky-b | Student

For the most part the replys above, rather than supporting the view that Travel does not broaden the mind, simply provide negatives to travel in general.  in fact, they mostly boil down to "Yeah, travel broadens the mind, but it is coing to cost you.  Discomfort, expense, etc."  Or they orrfer other ways to provide the same broading effect, Books, Travel shows, etc.

Entry 5 from scarletpimpernel does touch on the one option I see for you.  For a significantly small minority of people who travel, experiencing things, food, ideas, fashion, music, sports, politics, etc. that are different from what they have grown up with will actually cause them to cling tighter to their parochial views and more strongly reject these new experiences.  These people are generally those who travel not for pleasure but out of necessity, generally for business, with the military, or due to some forced relocation (war, famine, etc.).  Even among those who travel out of necessity, those whose minds are narrowed by the experience are a small minority because people who are that inflexible in their world view generally don’t put themselves in a position that would require travel outsideof their comfort zone.

krishna-agrawala | Student

The one essential ingredient of all travel is that you are away from your familiar, and psychologically safe surroundings. When we travel, we are of course exposed to many new things. But many a time we can get similar or better exposure by other means also. For example, when you watch a cricket match on the TV, you get to see the finer details of the game much more clearly. However the psychological experience of being out there among the unfamiliar and unexpected, the feeling of insecrity, and mental responses to such feelings induce a kind of learning and growth which cannot be aquired without travel.

Wiggin42 | Student

Of course travel broadens the mind! It does so in much of the same way that reading broadens the mind. The exposure to different ideas, cultures, and people makes a human more open minded. Experiencing new things, seeing new sights, and talk to new people always exposes your mind to things it may not have been exposed to before.