Crane School Blog: Focus on Learning

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Journaling Through the Decades
Stephanie Bagish

Embarking on a fifteen-month journey across Europe, North Africa, and the Middle East at the age of ten, the world became my classroom. History came alive as we studied ancient architecture and cultures from England, to the Acropolis in Greece, spanning to Petra, Jordan. My father, Henry Bagish, a cultural anthropology teacher at Santa Barbara City College, took our family with him as he conducted research...

Embarking on a fifteen-month journey across Europe, North Africa, and the Middle East at the age of ten, the world became my classroom. History came alive as we studied ancient architecture and cultures from England, to the Acropolis in Greece, spanning to Petra, Jordan. My father, Henry Bagish, a cultural anthropology teacher at Santa Barbara City College, took our family with him as he conducted research around the globe. A key component to our education abroad was maintaining a journal to record, reflect, sketch, and preserve memories and insights during our odyssey. These journals have allowed me to recollect all of the wondrous marvels I’ve witnessed in my travels, and given me a newfound perspective on the power of recording personal experiences. Journals can be a tool for chronicling events, developing mindfulness, and encouraging self-reflection.


During our journeys, one of the responsibilities my parents gave us children was to keep a daily journal of our observations, thoughts, and reflections. This practice became an essential part of chronicling my life as I continued to travel on my own. Dozens of journals and decades later, as I turn the pages, I can distinctly remember moments in time because I captured them with sketches and detailed descriptions of the experience. Drawing in a journal makes a person pause and observe one’s surroundings. Looking at the details in architecture, shades of green in a jungle, or patterns of waves in a bay—this reflection period deeply inspires one to appreciate the unique qualities of the surrounding environment. A journal encourages one to be fully present, both physically and emotionally.


These past few years, when I’ve taken my four grandchildren to places such as India, Myanmar, and Japan, I couldn’t imagine not packing each child a journal to capture their memories. As I read my journals from half a century ago, it is clear how much both the world and I have changed. A journal can also serve to give a means of observing one’s personal growth and evolving priorities. Children can be historians of their own lives. The words they write in their journals this summer will prove invaluable to them personally, and to their families, decades down the road. Perhaps a future anthropologist will use these journals as primary resources to teach people in the future about what life was like in the 21st century.


Stephanie Bagish
Fourth Grade Teacher

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