BookPDF Available

Father and Son on the Road: When Children Are Allowed to Develop Their Own Travel Plans and Carry Them out



For Christmas, the father in this case study gave each of his two sons a voucher for a one-week trip that the boys would plan for individually and then take separately with the father during the upcoming summer vacation. The father records the initial thought processes and the plans in journal form. Together they reread journals from earlier trips and reflect on what happened in their course. What follows are accounts of the father hiking with the older son in southwest Ireland and then subsequent excursions in Berlin with his younger son. The two journeys planned by the children are then examined and discussed using qualitative textual analysis. Lastly, the findings are linked to current theoretical knowledge.
Father and Son on the Road
When children are allowed to develop their
own travel plans and carry them out
Joachim Broecher
Studies in Social, Emotional and Behavioral
Education, Vol. 5
Manufactured and published by
BoD - Books on Demand
Norderstedt, Germany 2015
ISBN: 978-3-7347-8052-3
Joachim Broecher
Preface … 9
1. Introduction 11
2. Aim and method …13
2.1. Notes from a family journal … 13
2.2. Researching how children
tackle travel planning … 16
3. Results … 19
3.1. The older son’s travel plan:
Hiking southwest Ireland … 19
3.2. The younger son’s idea for a trip:
Explore Berlin … 24
4. Interpretation and discussion … 37
4.1. Positive effects of travel
on family relationships … 37
4.2. Positive effects of travel on
children‘s school learning … 44
4.3. The variety of children’s needs … 48
4.4. An active role for children in
planning and taking trips … 55
4.5. Father and son each benefit
from their shared undertaking61
5. Conclusion: What really matters … 65
6. References … 69
For Christmas, the father in this case study gave each
of his two sons a voucher for a one-week trip that the
boys would plan for individually and then take sepa-
rately with the father during the upcoming summer va-
The father records the initial thought processes and
the plans in journal form. Together they reread jour-
nals from earlier trips and reflect on what happened in
their course.
What follows are accounts of the father hiking with
the older son in southwest Ireland and then subse-
quent excursions in Berlin with his younger son.
The two journeys planned by the children are then ex-
amined and discussed using qualitative textual analy-
Lastly, the findings are linked to current theoretical
J.B., Stockholm, March 30, 2015
1. Introduction
What ideas do children have and what do they imagine
when allowed to plan a trip on their own?
In the following case study, a father makes the gift
of a one-week travel voucher to each of his two sons,
with the proviso that the two boys must individually
plan a summer vacation trip to take separately with the
The father takes notes on the planning process that
soon gets under way.
2. Aim and method
2.1. Notes from a family journal
The object under examination is a 360-page journal,
made available by the family in question and kept joint-
ly by the father with his two sons (13 years and 9
years old) for an entire calendar year, starting with the
Christmas when the children received the travel
voucher as presents.
The journal records everything from detailed notes
on the preliminary thinking to daily entries during both
trips. As both boys gradually develop ideas for their
respective trips and discuss them with their father,
they reread journals kept during past years and reflect
on them. The father made the following entries:
Jack had stacked up the older journals of our
previous father-son travels next to his bed and
began to read in them. He called my attention
to a drawing that I made in the harbor of Ca-
gliari on Sardinia: “I can still remember exactly
when you did that, he says … Look, dad, here
is what I wrote down in South Tyrol when I
was just 8 years old (reading now): For break-
fast I had a pot of hot chocolate and dad or-
dered English tea. It was a little comfort in
view of the thick rainclouds outside our win-
dow. Hiking was still out of the question… so
we sat in the inn’s public room and played
checkers.” (February 21)
These older journals also cover travels undertaken by
this West German family as a unit and include impres-
sions recorded on those occasions by the mother, e.g.,
during a trip to France three years earlier. The mother
made these entries:
I had looked forward to it for a long time. I was
really excited when we saw the city limit sign
for Giverny. Then we entered the village
where Claude Monet bought a house and set
out a garden. This is also where he painted
his famous pictures of water lilies. Just the
place by itself is beautiful. Hollyhocks line all
the streets, in white, pink, and dark red ...
Then finally came the big moment: The pink
stucco house with the green shutters and
doors, the garden terrace ... flowers every-
where, in the most gorgeous colors. Roses
and hollyhocks in chaotic profusion on the
flower beds. We were in luck, for the sun was
shining and made the colors glow ...
These insights from the older journals, retroactively
worked into the text made available by the family, fur-
nish information about the familial and cultural back-
drop against which the boys developed the two trips
described in this article.
2.2. Researching how children
tackle travel planning
To begin with, it was necessary to distill out of the
whole set of materials that which had relevance for the
planning and execution of the two father-son journeys
facilitated by the voucher gifts.
To this end, the material was examined using quali-
tative content analytical methods to filter themes from
the journal text (Patton, 2002). First, the text of 88,500
words was divided into smaller units. Next, the inter-
twined narrative threads, i.e., the alternating retrospec-
tives, descriptions of the present, and plans for the
future, were disentangled, examined one by one, and
then reintegrated.
This step also involved labeling themes and assign-
ing the material to overarching thematic categories
identified, namely: retrospectives of earlier travels by
the father with his first-born son, retrospectives of ear-
lier travels by the whole family, descriptions of the fam-
ily’s current day to day life, current processes of plan-
ning and reflecting as they relate to the two father-son
trips in the planning stage, as well as subsequent doc-
umentation and retrospectives for these two trips
planned by the children that are in focus here.
The next step consisted of finding patterns within
these two thematic areas constituted by the newly-
planned father-son trips with the travel vouchers as
their starting points.
While the father’s and older son’s Ireland trip is
documented exclusively with summarizing notes, i.e.
daily reports, the journal contains close to 150 pages
of transcribed tape recordings of the Berlin trip with the
younger son.
These transcripts contain alternating summary re-
ports, but mostly scenic impressions from the Berlin
explorations and dialogues between father and son.
The father made the following entry in this connection:
We had the idea to pack a voice recorder so
we could record our impressions and observa-
tions, questions and thoughts on tape as we
roamed through Berlin ... to give us authentic
notes that would reflect something of actual
experience in the specific situation. (August 8)
Therefore, for the Ireland trip, a more synoptic type of
text was created that is hence less voluminous, while
exceptionally comprehensive, richly detailed documen-
tations exist for the Berlin explorations.
In structuring and categorizing the material bearing
on both trips in focus here, particular attention was
paid to the approach that each boy now took in plan-
ning and implementing his trip.
3. Results
3.1. The older son’s travel plan:
Hiking southwest Ireland
Now let us look at how thirteen year old Jack planned
his trip. Already that December, the boy formulated
first tentative thoughts for an in-depth exploration of
the British Isles. As we learn from the journal, this in-
terest was awakened by a Scotland trip that Jack had
made as an eight year old together with his father.
As January went by, Ireland crystallized as the trav-
el destination. Jack envisioned being in the fresh air all
day long and hiking by the Atlantic. In February, they
booked flights to Kerry.
In April, they bought a guidebook to the Kerry Way
and became familiar with the individual stages of their
trek. They booked first-night accommodations in June.
All the rest was left to serendipity.
In late July, they flew to Kerry and hiked from Killar-
ney to Waterville, by way of Kenmare, Sneem and Ca-
Every day, they backpacked all their gear and
turned in at guest houses (Fig. 1) in the evenings.
They passed the day in Sneem on account of steady
rainfall, spending the time reading, having tea, and
Upon arrival in Waterville, their end stage destina-
tion, they spent one last day by the sea. They enjoyed
the breathtaking scenery of the summery Atlantic and
its very gentle August surf.
They waded in the water, perched on rocks or took
in the ever-changing pastel colors of the evening sky,
father and son, each in himself, following his own
thoughts, now and then conversing, as for example
over dinner in the pub. The journal describes it all in
We slowly made our way up into the moun-
tains. For a while, it was a karstic, rough land-
scape ... then came blooming, lush meadows
again with a rich diversity of grasses and
flowers. Small creeks bubbled from the hills.
Often the old Kenmare Road would lead
through marshy terrain ... we encountered not
a living soul from this point on ... small rivers
blocked our way that we had ... to leap across
on boulders ... (August 1)
After leaving Kenmare, crossing an old stone
bridge we headed up into the hills again. The
way led through brush, past hedgerows, this-
tles, and ferns. Often, we had to go over fenc-
es and stone walls with the help of step lad-
ders put there for the purpose ... across pas-
tures, past grazing cattle we went, all the time
heading up the mountain. But once we arrived
on the summit, we were rewarded by the in-
comparable view of the Kenmare River, an
elongated sea lough. Under the bright sum-
mer sky, the soft green hills stretched all
around us; those farther in the distance were
a bluish grey. The fresh breeze blowing here
dried the sweaty brow ... Mr. Teahan wel-
comed us in the friendliest of ways to the Der-
ry East farmhouse. We took a twin room in the
attic and were then invited to tea and crum-
pets in the lounge. We chatted briefly ...
signed up for the evening’s dinner ... (August
Late in the afternoon we stood in a narrow
street with tightly packed houses ... a quaint
pub, a small grocery store ... fortunately, a
guesthouse ... this time Jack asked for the
room ... in the pub, it was rustic and relaxed ...
some Irish families tarried by the bar, a passel
of children revolving around them, licking
green water ices. (August 4)
Fig. 1: The older son (13) walking the Kerry Way in
southwest Ireland
3.2. The younger son’s idea
for a trip: Explore Berlin
Now we turn to how nine-year old Peter approached
his trip planning. In late December the boy started to
develop ideas for his one week trip that were inspired
by lesson content from his elementary school general
studies class:
“Take a look in your room, Dad”, Peter called
out to me from upstairs, just as I walked in the
front door … on my desk lay a folded-up letter
… “Dear Dad, when we were studying North
Rhine-Westphalia in school, I thought about
visiting monuments. I don’t know if we can get
there by train; if not, we can always take our
car. Where do I want to go? Hint: Check the
`Travel´ box in your room! Peter.” I went over
to the file and in it I found his elementary
school general studies textbook … with a
bookmark sticking out of it. I picked up the
book and opened it to the marked page.
There, in large block letters was written E 4
just then, Peter entered my room, came over
to me and flipped to the next page in the book
to show me a photo of the Egge Rocks. Peter:
“Could be really interesting.” He pointed to a
map just below the picture. “Here, these are
the hiking trails in red. And there is also a
youth hostel. We could stay there and in the
morning hike up that red trail to the Egge
Rocks. And here are some burial mounds…”,
all the while his finger moved across the map
grids. (December 27)
With undiminished enthusiasm, the nine year old con-
tinues planning, even if ultimately the focus on this first
travel destination would dissolve into a Berlin trip. On
multiple occasions in the ensuing weeks, father and
son would talk about Berlin, about historical and politi-
cal problems that had to do with the former zones that
divided the city after the Second World War, the Airlift,
the GDR or the Wall. They pull books off the shelves,
look things up and talk about them. Sometimes it is
Peter and at other times his father driving the talks and
the research. They listen to Marlene Dietrich sing I still
keep a suitcase in Berlin and conclude that it is full of
longing. They phone a Russian lady from whom they
rent a pied à terre on Bruederstraße for a week. Peter
studies the city map to find out how best to get from
the Zoo train station to Bruederstraße.
During the actual Berlin exploration then accumu-
lates a dense staccato of tape-recorded observations,
thoughts and questions, an ongoing dialogue between
father and son. The following scene reflects this in ex-
emplary fashion. It is late evening. Father and son
have just returned to their flat from the Museum at
Checkpoint Charlie:
We helped ourselves to something to drink
from the refrigerator and sank into the arm-
chairs in the living room. Father: “All the
things that people used in escaping from the
GDR!” Peter: “I would never have done that.”
Father: “Why not?” Peter: “It would have been
too dangerous for me.” Father: “And you
would have stayed in the GDR?” Peter: “Not
really all that much either.” Father: “Could you
get used to the restrictions on people there? I
know you are also someone who loves his
freedom very much.” Peter: “It’s hard to say.”
Father: “Unbelievable, all the things they
came up with: homemade airplanes …” Peter:
“… a hot air balloon sown together out of
many cloth strips. That must have been a lot
of work.” Father: “The two families that drifted
across the border in the homemade balloon. I
have a lot of respect for that much courage!”
Peter: “And the balloon even caught fire on
one side.” Father: “But the boy put out the fire
with a fire extinguisher. A real hero!” Peter:
“And they just made it.” (August 18)
Father and son are constantly on the go through the
city, snap pictures, make sketches and take notes.
Peter can’t get enough of the program. He is curious
about everything and enjoys the kaleidoscopic activi-
ties, although he also very much likes kicking back in
the apartment.
The spectrum of their explorations covers roughly
the following: The Natural History Museum with its di-
nosaur skeletons and mineral collections; the Museum
of Technology with its Raisin Bomber, steam locomo-
tives, Imperial Train, antique train tickets and historical
windmills, TV sets, and radios; the Wall Museum with
multimedia of the risky escape attempts from the GDR;
the Jewish Museum, Pergamon Museum, Old National
Gallery, and Dueppel, the medieval museum village.
Other objects they explore include the boarded-up
GDR Palace of the Republic, the Imperial Palace
Square, the Brandenburg Gate, and the Reichstag
building. In late evening, father and son lie on the lat-
ter’s roof under the glass cupola, looking up into the
starry skies and ruminating about politics. They tour
the Potsdam palaces and reconstruct Voltaire’s so-
journ at Sanssouci. While walking down the street
named Unter den Linden, the father explains the clas-
sical building style to the son.
Sipping cool drinks, they sit in their prefab building
apartment late into the night, with the windows open to
the warm summer breeze, debating if it would be bet-
ter to reconstruct the Imperial Palace in its original
form or to restore the Palace of the Republic instead.
Stimulated by their visit to the Maerkisches Muse-
um, they try to imagine what the Bruederstraße where
they are staying would have looked like 100 or 200
years ago, with its milliner’s shops, small workshops,
and horse-drawn wagons, and what the contemporary
mindset would have been in the neighboring Nico-
Mornings, they sleep in a bit late and eat a leisurely
breakfast, but soon they are filling a back-pack for the
day, and then they dive once more into the cultural
and historical universe that is Berlin.
On two evenings, Peter and his father go swimming
at the legendary Wannsee beach, humming the lyrics
from the song Pack your swimming trunks ...
The Third Reich is a key subject complex that Peter
and his father repeatedly grapple with during the week.
The journal documents the following dialogue from the
Museum of Technology:
Peter: “Can we listen to number 11 now?” Fa-
ther: “That is about the burning of the books.”
Peter: “Why did they do that?” Father: “The
Nazis fought against freedom of the mind and
wanted to stifle any kind of criticism. That is
why they burned books. (A voice shouting … I
give into the fire the writings of Heinrich Mann
… Erich Kaestner…) Peter: “They burned Er-
ich Kaestner’s books, too? What was so bad
about Emil and the Detectives?” Father: “Not
a thing. But Kaestner also published some
other, critical texts. That was the problem.”
(August 16)
Another exchange regarding the Third Reich that takes
place in the Jewish Museum:
Father: “The Freudenheim family of Berlin em-
igrated in 1938 ... And Fritz, 12 years old, rec-
orded it. He drew a world map, in color even,
and he drew in the route by which they trav-
eled ... via Hamburg ... Lisbon ... Casablan-
ca...” Peter: “The first thing he drew was a lo-
comotive.” Father: “That’s right, they went by
train.” Peter: “From Berlin.” Father: “... Then
they crossed the ocean to Brazil... and finally
to Montevideo, in Uruguay ... That is how the
boy dealt with his eventful childhood, by writ-
ing down everything ...” Peter: “There, in front,
he also signed his picture. See that? Fritz
Freudenheim.” (August 19)
A special highpoint for Peter during their Berlin explo-
rations is the post windmill (Fig. 3) on the open air
grounds of the Museum of Technology.
Father and son engage in an intensive conversation
with the museum docent in charge of the mill, delving
into the historical background and functioning of this
mill type. Using a sophisticated mechanism, the mill
can be turned to face into the wind (Fig. 2). The journal
reveals the following scene:
Mill docent: “No, they couldn’t afford a horse
for turning the mill. Peter can actually do it ...
Peter ... will turn the 30 tons.” Peter: “The mill
weighs 30 tons?” Mill docent: “Yes ... (He
turns to Peter) Ok, man of action, are you
ready?” We climb down the steep wooden
stairs. The museum man gets a few things
ready outside ... pulls the sledlike wooden
frame away from the boom. To keep it from
skidding, the frame is held in place by a post,
one of many driven into the ground in a circle
around the mill. Next, he hooks up an iron
chain between the boom and a rotatable
wooden post that sticks up vertically in the
frame. Lastly, the docent horizontally inserts a
kind of lever, a two-by-four that is about 2.5
meters long and rounded on one end to allow
a better grip, into the vertical post. Peter walks
in a circle, pushes, the chain rattles, tightens,
and winds around the vertical post and soon
there is an intense, loud creaking above the
mill‘s king post. The giant mill turns … Father:
“Did you have to use a lot of force?” Peter:
“No, not much. But you have to weigh some-
thing; otherwise the wood knocks you back.”
(August 17)
Fig. 2: The younger son (9) turns the post mill
Fig. 3: The post mill on the open air grounds of the
Museum of Technology Berlin
4. Interpretation and discussion
4.1. Positive effects of travel
on family relationships
Let us now consider the question if such trips impact
family relationships. The research (see Agate, Zabris-
kie, Agate, and Poff 2009; Durko and Petrick, 2013;
Shaw, Havitz, and Delamere, 2008; West and Merri-
am, 2009; Zabriskie and Cormick, 2003) attributes
positive effects on family relationships to shared rec-
reational activities in general and shared travel experi-
ences in particular.
It emerges from this family’s journal that the father-
son trips contributed substantially to improving the
family climate, by helping to defuse occasional rivalries
and conflicts arising between the two brothers.
The journal contains a few passages that allude to the
two boys‘ rivalries and quarrels. The father noted
something to this effect:
At supper, I put on some Irish folk music in
reference to the Ireland trip. Jack did not have
much of a reaction to it. I believe he was not
in a good mood because he had quarreled
with his brother shortly before. Well, they’ll put
some distance between them soon enough.
(July 22)
And harking back to earlier hiking trips in Italy’s Cinque
Terre area, the father made this entry:
Fishing boats bobbing … colorful, closely
packed houses … Jack and Peter were al-
ways scooting ahead, with their telescoping
poles ... They were so busy exploring the cen-
turies-old stone path’s twists and turns
through the Cinque Terre hills that they had
no time to fight. Still, these trips by the whole
family are coming to an end. The boys’ diverg-
ing interests barely are still reconcilable with
one another. (August 14)
The concept that both parents are acting on in concert
is to separate the two boys for a week, with each child
getting the father’s or mother’s undivided attention.
The father made this entry:
The boy who is on a trip enjoys the father’s
exclusive devotion and the one staying at
home has the mother’s full attention. (January
In addition, when it is the father only who takes off into
the world with the sons, it helps relieve stress on the
mother. The journal contains the following passage
penned by the father on this topic:
The stress on my wife Laura from her many
responsibilities at work, in the home, and rais-
ing children is currently very high. She is in
favor of my pedagogic travel philosophy,
namely by shifting parts of child raising into
the world outside. She is absolutely convinced
of the value of these undertakings and looks
forward to catching her breath during our ab-
sence. (January 20)
Even 9 year old Peter sees it as a chance for the
mother’s to catch her breath when one of the boys is
on the road with the father:
Then mom has a whole week to relax and re-
cover. (February 22)
When the father-son duos return home, there are
many adventures to relate and experiences to share
with the other family members. This gives all family
members a chance to encounter each other in a new
way and to learn from one another. Here is what the
father wrote about it:
During supper, Jack told about their adven-
turesome hikes on the Kerry Way and how we
sank up to our calves in mud or how we were
pursued by peculiar insect swarms, with Peter
listening to him spellbound … and Peter told
about evening swims at the Wannsee bathing
beach, with Jack prompting him for details.
One brother pays renewed attention to the
other and listens intently to him, while Mama
smiles, enjoys the stories, and is glad to have
her boys home again. (September 2)
There is much to suggest that traveling in a parent-
child dyad fosters familial cohesion, especially when
the parents succeed in embedding the individual expe-
riences in an overall family narrative that integrates
The father gives a pertinent example for this, when
nine year old Peter asks him which travel experiences
he, the father, views as especially positive ones?
Peter: “So, what do you like to remember
most?” Father: “The youth hostel in Clichy. I
recall the sweltering heat ... how the beds
sagged ... and all of us in one room, and four
nights at that! Exploring Paris, in mid-summer!
It was so hot that even a sheet was too much
as cover. Remember, I took my mattress off
the metal frame and put it by the wide-open
window. And all of us together on it finished
reading Preußler’s Krabat. Wasn’t that great?
And Mama always looked forward so much to
her café au lait in the morning.“ (July 21)
The travel experiences generated by the separate fa-
ther-son dyads are thus stretched by the father into a
larger whole by bringing in background experiences
that all of them took part in, such as their explorations
of the city of Paris.
This is where the journal reveals that father-son
travel can complement travels undertaken by the en-
tire family.
Traveling in individual father-son dyads thus serves to
sustain familial cohesion and helps the parents
achieve their pedagogical objectives, i.e., to foster
each of their children‘s optimal development.
4.2. Positive effects of travel on
children‘s school learning
The research also suggests that travel has additional
positive effects on children’s intellectual or academic
learning (e.g., Byrnes, 2001; Newman, 1996). This can
happen through active exploration by children, of mu-
seums especially (e.g., Chang, 2006; 2012; Gutwill
and Allen, 2012; Haden, 2010; Piscitelli, 2001).
These processes also have interactive dimensions
involving the parents into which flow parental thinking
and knowledge (see Thomas and Anderson, 2013).
Such positive effects are particularly underlined by the
Berlin explorations of nine year old Peter. These ex-
plorations lead to the boy starting to develop pertinent
questions, which is already an important step toward
deeper academic learning. The father made the follow-
ing entry:
Peter looked at the roofs of the Potsdam pal-
ace and suddenly asked about the chemical
processes that gave the roofs their light green
color. “Why are some parts of the roof light
green instead of ranging from dark to black?
Is it because the metal is different or some
other oxidation process is happening?” he
asked ... On the ride back from Potsdam, Pe-
ter threw out questions about possibilities for
speeding up light rail trains, about the differ-
ence in the engines or motors of light rail
trains, subways and regular trains. He ob-
served that subways are best at accelerating
rapidly. “But what special motors do they use
here and what are the technical elements re-
quired?“ (August 18)
As evidenced by the following journal passage penned
by the father some seven weeks later, Peter’s Berlin
explorations achieved a certain long-term sustained
effect in terms of academic learning:
Peter comes into my room and tells me that
he has looked some more into the accelera-
tion technology used on subway trains. He
had read something about it in a book ... (Oc-
tober 6)
Simultaneously, we are dealing here with an interac-
tion between this type of educational travel on the one
hand and academic learning at school on the other.
In the initial phase of developing ideas for his trip,
Peter did after all via the previously mentioned Egge
Rocks he learned about in class once again draw on
stimuli from his school lessons, even if he ultimately
did not pursue the idea further:
At breakfast, Peter asked me about the Wart-
burg. Did I suppose that the inkblot left by
Martin Luther was still there? What made him
ask? It was because of his religion class. Mr.
M., the religion teacher, told the story of how
Luther hid from his pursuers in the Wartburg
and how he translated the New Testament
there. This inkblot happened during all that
writing. It could still be seen today. He would
like to explore it on the spot and maybe take a
trip there. (March 3)
These initial trip planning exercises of Peter’s docu-
mented in the journal show the very important role that
the work of primary school teachers plays in equipping
children with models for exploring the world.
4.3. The variety of children’s needs
Now we will take into account the diversity of children’s
emotional, cognitive, and physical needs and devel-
opmental issues.
The trip planned by the younger son is a kind of in-
tellectual high altitude flight, a rapid fire intellectual
ping pong between father and son, in which the father
also functions as a role model for active explorative
thinking and behavior. Take for example the following
exchange between them on Berlin’s Palace Square:
Father: “There, the Palace of the Republic,
you see over there, with the copper red reflec-
tive glass?” Peter: “But they nailed the build-
ing shut with boards.” Father: “That’s right, the
building has been empty for a while ... I was
inside it back in GDR times, sometime around
1981, having coffee. There, larger than life, is
the GDR emblem: hammer, sickle, wheat gar-
land, but the hammer and sickle are gone.
Peter: “But I saw those symbols in a book.“
(August 15)
The subject of the former GDR occupies father and
son at every turn. This was their dialogue at a flea
market for books in front of Humboldt University.
Peter: “FDJ? What was that?” Father: “Free
German Youth.” Peter: “Free? In a prison?”
Father: “The FDJ was the big youth organiza-
tion in the GDR. If you wanted to get ahead in
that country, you had to belong.” Peter:
“Wow.” (August 17)
Peter and his father are walking toward the Branden-
burg Gate:
Peter: “See the angels up there?” Father:
“They‘re beautiful, silhouetted against the blue
night sky ... Now take a look at this facade.
This, by the way, is what’s called the classical
style of architecture.” Peter: “What is classi-
cal?” Father: “This architectural style borrows
elements from Greek and Roman antiquity.
Those columns there, for instance. Do you
know when antiquity was?” Peter: “Yes. The
time of Jesus, both just before and after ...
How old is the quadriga up there on the Bran-
denburg Gate? Who actually made it?“ (Au-
gust 15)
The following episode dates from their time spent at
Berlin‘s Natural History Museum:
Peter: “Here are measuring instruments!” Fa-
ther: “And what are they used for?” Peter: “For
measuring angles on crystals. There’s so
much to discover here!” Father: “It must be
heaven for students studying mineralogy. It’s
a magic world of colors.” Peter (eyes riveted
on the artifacts): “They can come anytime and
look at everything.” (August 15)
Even with all the fascination that Peter’s and his fa-
ther’s highflying intellectual exploration of Berlin holds,
a child’s needs can also overlap with areas of child
development not involving intellectual learning, as the
example of the Ireland trip makes clear. To sum up,
comparatively speaking, two completely different sto-
ries or dimensions resulted from these two trips.
For 13 year old Jack, the daylong, challenging, and
contemplative backpacking trek through southwest
Ireland seems to be exactly the right kind of trip at the
right time. It seems he had made a well thought-out
plan with good awareness of his personal needs. The
father reflected on this in a journal entry:
At no point did I have to do cheer Jack up with
anything to boost his morale. No matter if we
were outdoors hiking through the countryside
or in our quarters for the night, Jack remained
self-contained and in his inner world. I never
heard from him: But this is boring. I want to do
this or that now. Or: couldn’t we just ? He
never said: How much farther is it? Or: I don’t
feel like going any farther. Jack was and is a
very undemanding, relaxed, entirely wonderful
travel companion. He seems to take things in
stride and adapt to them. (August 11)
For Jack, his trek through western Ireland‘s remote
coastal regions is more about putting some distance
between himself and the school hubbub, about being
immersed in peaceful nature. This is precisely what
the father had anticipated when he noted the following
a few months prior to the Ireland trip:
and when I see Jack sit at his desk poring
over math or Latin homework, I am certain
that during our joint trip he will prize engaging
in as much physical activity as possible in the
great outdoors. (April 4)
Jack´s Ireland trip is about meditating by hiking, about
going into silence in which to find his self. Perhaps,
other developmental issues are progressing or coming
into balance during the daily contemplative hikes, pro-
cesses that are not subject to being verbalized or
having to be.
Recalling Hannah Arendt (1998), the nature of the
Irish walks could be designated as vita contemplativa;
that of the Berlin excursions as vita activa, considering
how much was taken on, conquered and set in motion,
a post mill weighing tons included.
On the one hand, this contrast could stem from the
children’s differing personalities. On the other, we also
assume that a 13 year old boy goes through different
developmental stages than a 9 year old goes through.
Previous diary entries tell us that Jack, when he was
just 9 years old, roamed fascinated for an entire day
through the science and technology collections in Mu-
nich‘s Deutsches Museum on returning from a hike
with his father in South Tyrol:
Often, it was possible to do an experiment by
pushing a button or lever; for example, back-
ing up the water in a simulated river behind a
small dam, opening sluice gates, or pumping
water up through transparent pipes. Many ex-
periments dealt with weights, a body’s center
of mass, or the lever principle. Jack was full of
enthusiasm and constantly communicated his
ideas, questions, and thoughts about the
physical phenomena.
From all this, it can be surmised that what matters
most in planning such trips is remaining sensitive to
the age-appropriate developmental themes and needs
of the individual child, while simultaneously reacting
constructively to potential personality differences.
4.4. An active role for children
in planning and taking trips
Very few studies to date have examined an active role
by children in planning and taking trips (e.g., Hilbrecht,
Shaw, Delamere, and Havitz, 2008; Nickerson and
Jurowski, 2001).
The father in our case study, too, mostly handled
the planning for earlier trips with Jack or travels with
the entire family on his own. But, in this instance,
linked with the idea of the two gift vouchers was the
father’s resolve to stay out of it this time. In the journal
he wrote:
In addition, I’m going to approach the situation
somewhat differently than to date … This
time, the boys should take over as much of
the trip planning and required preparations as
feasible or even completely. The trip will
largely be constituted the way each of the two
boys plans and pictures it in his mind. (De-
cember 21)
The child’s planning process moves ahead in small
increments and takes time. Peter experimentally steps
through potential scenarios and changes his mind
again. The father entered the following in the journal:
Peter said, he wasn’t sure if we would actually
travel to the area that he had designated. For
now, the plan remains in place. (January 1)
While some elements of the plan still change multiple
times, others remain constant throughout. From the
start, Peter remained firm on the transportation meth-
od train and never questioned it during the entire plan-
ning window. The father already noted at Christmas
Peter, after having read the voucher text, af-
firmed: “By train. I would like to go by train.”
(December 26)
It often happens that when Peter and his father talk
about their joint trip that the boy fetches a book or oth-
er atlas, to get a better notion of what was said earlier.
Immediately, Peter brings an atlas over to
study the geography of Iceland … We sit in
front of three open atlases that the boy had
carted over, and we look at the Scandinavian
countries. (May 21)
Whichever direction a child takes in his personal plan-
ning, if accompanied by a loving parent’s appropriate
support, it turns into an exercise in self-efficacy, deci-
sion making ability and action competence.
At the same time, the children’s autonomy operates
within a bounded framework that responsible parents
must also set and that will also be accepted, as the
two children demonstrated here. On that subject, the
father noted:
Naturally, I won’t put up with all sorts of con-
ceivable discomforts. I’m not twenty-five any
more. I will certainly look after myself and
speak up for my personal needs. (December
Both sons test the limits of how far-flung a trip their
father will permit. On that subject, we read in the jour-
Jack: “Does Africa qualify?” Father: “With just
one week, I don’t want to make a long dis-
tance flight. At most, that would mean North
Africa.” (December 31)
Peter: “Could we also go to the North Pole?”
Father: “That could be rather difficult. Let’s
just stick with Europe. So, the limit would per-
haps be Iceland or Norway.” (May 21)
The boys not only accept such boundary setting; it ac-
tually turns out to be stimulative, as the following pas-
sage from the journal documents:
Peter immediately fetches an atlas and studies Ice-
land’s geography. He moves his index finger over the
map. Peter: “Here is the highest mountain.” Father:
“It’s probably a volcano. Remember Voyage to the
Center of the Earth, by Jules Verne?” Peter: “Oh,
yeah! Now that would interest me!” (May 21)
Even with all of the individual initiative, autonomy
and the children’s participation in the travel arrange-
ments, the parents always retain a certain, indispen-
sable residual pedagogical responsibility. It can range
from hiking boots to what goes in the back-pack; after
all, Jack and his father will be carrying all their bag-
gage on their backs for a week. We take another look
at the journal:
The new hiking boots are ready, but Jack has
not tried them on once. I went to his room
right away and suggested he wear the boots
for a few hours, or better yet, wear them to
school the next day, so break them early.
(May 18) … The departure time for the flight
to Ireland approaches. Today, we spent two
hours packing both backpacks. This has to be
done very carefully and in a well-thought out
manner, because we will be carrying every-
thing that we’ll need during the week on our
backs. (July 27)
Of course, the subject of father-son travel has a great
deal to do with emotional devotion to the child, over
and above all rational and practical planning. A child
given the chance to plan a trip independently and then
take it with the parent already experiences the parent’s
undivided attention for his or her person, thoughts,
learning interests and needs in the planning stage but
even more so when embarked on it.
4.5. Father and son each benefit
from their shared undertaking
Research accepts as non-controversial that children’s
development will be served when fathers actively and
constructively engage with the upbringing and educa-
tion processes of the family (e.g., Ball, 2010; Downer,
Campos, McWayne, and Gartner, 2008; Gottzén, 2011
Milkey, Kendig, Nomaguchi, and Denny, 2010;
Pattnaik and Sriram, 2010; Sriram, 2011).
Treating father-son trips as a recommended model
in discussions in the field of parent education hence
could encourage still more fathers to become actively
involved in the family.
We can also assume that there will be positive re-
percussions for the father who engages in this way. He
feels needed in his role as father and hence affirmed.
From his engagement as father, he can realize mean-
ing and perspective for himself during the father-son
travel (e.g., Eggeben and Knoester, 2001; Harrington,
It also gives the father a chance to revert in a small
way to being a boy again, to recall the little and great
adventures of his own childhood and then in turn share
this experience with his son in a real setting. In this
respect, the father wrote in the journal kept four years
earlier in Meran, South Tyrol:
In the tent, holding a flashlight, we read a
Ludwig Thoma story about boy pranksters.
In Ireland, Jack’s quiet nature, moreover, has a heal-
ing effect on the father who is still stressed from his
teaching duties. With the school year only just behind
him, the teacher-father still tends to become too edgy
intellectually and to start lecturing by making an ex-
ercise for them both out of learning the English vocab-
ulary from the Irish short stories they read in the even-
ing; or, after already having crafted his own poem on
the day’s impressions, trying to push the son also to
write poetry. But there the boy, in his meditative-
abstaining way, guides him gently back to what mat-
ters: The road that they are both on, the silence, and
the natural beauty of the landscape, all things for
which the child does not need a lot of words.
And yet, as we discover from an older Sardinia
journal, Jack, on a trip when he was all of nine years
old, on his own initiative had in fact written a swash-
buckling pirate story, inspired by the fort, the harbor
and a mysterious tower in Cagliari where legend had it
that pirates actually hid their ill-gotten gold.
But now, on their hike through Ireland, this thirteen
year old embodies the way of the Tao that means im-
mersing yourself in the moment. Jack becomes co-
therapist with an Irish landscape to help ground the
father again and renew his contact with himself and his
own inner world in the course of a week of backpack-
5. Conclusion: What really matters
Parents who wish to plan such an enterprise with one
of their children, be it a father going on a trip with his
son or his daughter, or be it a mother with her daugh-
ter or her son, may find they are not able to free up an
entire week for just the one child. Let us hope that still
leaves the option of at least a weekend to be planned
and spent in the manner described here!
In addition, there might also be economic con-
straints on a family. But children will automatically plan
in line with what is possible to turn the project into real-
The father in our case study also puts economic
considerations in play. Jack immediately accepts the
constraints and even interprets them positively, as the
following journal passage demonstrates:
Father: “Rental cars are expensive, and they
have the drawback that we’ll have fewer
chances to start conversations with people
than if we move by train or bus, not to speak
of doing lots of walking. Not having a rental
car, of course, can also be more uncomforta-
ble at times.” Jack: “There’s nothing wrong
with a little adventure.” (February 20)
All that matters to the child is the caring attention: hav-
ing his mental world taken seriously, a personal inter-
est shown, engaging in conversation, and being made
time for.
There is no need for a luxurious hotel or an expen-
sive flight. All that it basically takes are sturdy shoes
and a backpack. Whatever is embarked on then a
city ramble, a nature walk, a tent put up outdoors,
shared contemplation of a sky full of stars the child
will be motivated as long as father or mother are the
benign and interested companions at least until ado-
lescence sets in and other issues impinge.
What matters at this stage, nine year old Peter ex-
presses just as the journal ends:
Father: “What advice would you give other
children, based on your personal travel expe-
riences?” Peter: “Be alert and curious, ob-
serve closely, and ask questions...” Father:
“What should adults do to help kids in these
explorations?” Peter: “Just be there for the
kid.” (October 21)
6. References
Agate, J.R., Zabriskie, R.B., Agate, S.T., and Poff, R.
(2009). Family leisure satisfaction and satisfaction
with family life. Journal of Leisure Research, 41(2),
Arendt, H. (1998). The human condition (2nd ed.) Chi-
cago: The University of Chicago Press
Ball, J. (2010). Father involvement in Canada: An
emerging movement. Childhood Education, 87(2),
Byrnes, D.A. (2001). Travel schooling: Helping chil-
dren learn through travel. Childhood Education,
77(6), 345-350
Chang, E. (2006). Interactive experiences and contex-
tual learning in museums. Studies in Art Education,
47(2), 170-186
Chang, E. (2012). Art Trek: Looking at art with young
children. International Journal of Education through
Art, 8(2), 151-167
Downer, J., Campos, R., McWayne, C., and Gartner,
T. (2008). Father involvement and children´s early
learning: A critical review of published empirical
work from the past 15 years. Marriage & Family Re-
view, 43(1), 67-108
Durko, A.M., and Petrick, J.F. (2013). Family and rela-
tionship benefits of travel experiences: A literature
review. Journal of Travel Research, 52(6), 720-730
Eggeben, D., and Knoester, C. (2001). Does father-
hood matter for men? Journal of Marriage and
Family, 63(2), 381-393
Gottzén, L. (2011). Involved fatherhood? Exploring the
educational work of middle-class men. Gender and
Education, 23(5), 619-634
Gutwill, J.P., and Allen, S. (2012). Deepening stu-
dents´ scientific inquiry skills during a science mu-
seum field trip. The Journal of Learning Sciences,
21(1), 130-181.
Haden, C.A. (2010). Talking about science in muse-
ums. Child Development Perspectives, 4(1), 62-67
Harrington, M. (2006). Sport and leisure as contexts
for fathering in Australian families. Leisure Studies,
25(2), 165-183
Hilbrecht, M., Shaw, S.M., Delamere, F.M., and Havitz,
M.E. (2008). Experiences, perspectives, and mean-
ings of family vacations for children. Leisure/Loisir,
32(2), 541-571
Milkey, M.A., Kendig, S.M., Nomaguchi, K.M., and
Denny, K.E. (2010). Time with children, children´s
well-being, and work-family balance among em-
ployed parents. Journal of Marriage and Family,
72(5), 1329-1343
Newman, R. (1996). For parents particularly: Let´s
take a trip! Childhood Education, 72(5), 296-297
Nickerson, N.P., and Jurowski, C. (2001). The influ-
ence of children on vacation travel patterns. Journal
of Vacation Marketing, 7(1), 19-30
Pattnaik, J., and Sriram, R. (2010). Father/male in-
volvement in the care and education of children.
Childhood Education, 86(6), 354-359
Patton, M.Q. (2002). Qualitative research and evalua-
tion methods (3rd ed.) Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage
Piscitelli, B. (2001). Young children´s interactive expe-
riences in museums: Engaged, embodied, and em-
powered learners. Curator, 44(3), 224-229
Shaw, S.M., Havitz, M.E., and Delamere, F.M. (2008).
“I decided to invest in my kids´ memories”: Family
vacations, memories, and the social construction of
the family. Tourism, Culture & Communication, 8(2),
Sriram, P. (2011). The role of fathers in children´s
lives: A view from urban India. Childhood Education,
87(3), 185-190
Thomas, G.P., and Anderson, D. (2013). Parents´
metacognitive knowledge: Influences on parent-
child interactions in a science museum setting. Re-
search in Science Education, 43(3), 1245-1265
West, P.C., and Merriam, L.C., Jr. (2009). Outdoor
recreation and family cohesiveness: A research ap-
proach. Journal of Leisure Research, 41(3), 351-
Zabriskie, R.B., and McCormick, B.P. (2003). Parent
and child perspectives of family leisure involvement
and satisfaction with family life. Journal of Leisure
Research, 35(2), 163-189
Studies in Social, Emotional and
Behavioral Education
Joachim Broecher
Vol. 1
`Incident on a train´: How storytelling in higher educa-
tion can foster a critical discourse on the inclusive and
exclusive forces of society (2014)
Vol. 2
How a practitioner thinks in action: Shaping pedagogi-
cal and didactic strategies for students with emotional
and behavioral difficulties through textual analysis of a
teacher´s journal (2015, 2nd ed.)
Vol. 3
The interconnection between formal inclusion and in-
ternal exclusion: How the `Training Room´ Program in
German schools seeks to improve classroom disci-
pline, but in doing so inhibits the development of a par-
ticipative and empowering learning culture (2014)
Vol. 4
Stepping up to complex picture composition: How ado-
lescent students with emotional and behavioral difficul-
ties succeed at picture making with Movable Layout
Technique (2015)
Vol. 5
Father and son on the road: When children are al-
lowed to develop their own travel plans and carry them
out (2015)
Joachim Broecher is Professor and Director of the De-
partment for the Education of Learners with Emotional,
Social and Behavioral Difficulties, at University of
Flensburg, Germany. Prior to moving into higher edu-
cation he worked in schools, for 19 years, as teacher
in specialized settings, as support teacher in regular
schools and later as school principal.
For more information:
ResearchGate has not been able to resolve any citations for this publication.
Full-text available
Cultural imperatives for "good" parenting include spending time with children and ensuring that they do well in life. Knowledge of how these factors influence employed parents' work-family balance is limited. Analyses using time diary and survey data from the 2000 National Survey of Parents (N = 933) indicate that how time with children relates to parents ' feelings of balance varies by gender and social class. Interactive "quality" time is linked with mothers ' feelings of balance more than fathers '. More time in routine care relates to imbalance for fathers without college degrees. Feeling that on spends the "right" amount of time with children and that children are doing well are strong and independent indicators of parents' work-family balance.
Full-text available
Previous research on family vacations has emphasized tourism and marketing but largely ignored lived experiences. As part of a larger project exploring the meanings of family vacations to all family members, this study focuses on children's perspectives through analysis of in‐depth interviews of 24 school‐age children from 15 different families. Throughout the many different types of vacations, activities were central and created a context from which three main themes emerged. The first was a focus on having fun as an important vacation outcome. The second, newness and familiarity, conveyed the importance of adventure, new experiences, and other possibilities within a secure and stable social environment. The third theme was the centrality of social connections to reaffirm and strengthen relationships with family and friends. Children's experiences did not neatly fit into previously established family leisure models, thereby reinforcing the importance of considering all family members’ perspectives in future research.
Full-text available
The purpose of this study was to examine the relationship between family leisure satisfaction and satisfaction with family life. Zabriskie's Family Leisure Activity Profile was used to measure family leisure satisfaction. The Satisfaction with Family Life Scale was used to measure satisfaction with family life. The sample consisted of 898 families from throughout the United States. Results indicated a relationship between all family leisure satisfaction variables and satisfaction with family life. Data collected from parents and youth provided insight into the relationship between family leisure satisfaction and satisfaction with family life. At the parent, youth, and family levels, core family leisure satisfaction was most correlated with satisfaction with family life. These findings provide implications for researchers, parents, and family professionals.
Outdoor recreation produces many kinds of highly valued social effects. One of these effects appears to be stronger family cohesiveness. Previous research supports the hypothesis that leisure activity and group cohesiveness are related. This study of family campers at St. Croix State Park, Pine County, Minnesota, was designed to test the hypothesis that mutual outdoor recreation helps sustain and increase family cohesiveness by inducing social interaction in the family group. Members of 306 randomly selected families were interviewed in the summer of 1967, and a follow-up questionnaire was sent in the fall. Cohesiveness was measured by ascertaining the amount of intimate communication of troubles, secrets, and mood among family members. Study results provide moderate support for the proposition that outdoor recreation helps maintain and increase family cohesiveness.
The Art Trek is a learning programme for families with children between the ages of 5 and 12 at Metropolitan Museum of Art (Met). It interactively exposes children to different artworks across cultures and styles in multiple artistic experiences, by questioning, listening, discussing, playing and drawing in a group setting. With access to museums at an early age, children can experience impressive images, explore cultures and develop skills to interpret visual language. I was able to observe the Art Trek programme with five pre-service elementary art teachers who were university undergraduate students in an art methods class I taught. In this article, I will discuss the importance of art and museum education for children at an early age. I then will address some suggestions on how art and museum educators can provide more meaningful and quality art experiences for young children as they view and explore works of art.
The purpose of this review was to examine existent research on the benefits of travel applicable to working adults, couples, families, and extended family members. While travel is often perceived as an outlet for relaxation, education, and a chance to escape the mundane, recent research suggests that travel has several deeper benefits for families, relationships, and the individual. Findings from an extensive review of literature revealed that tourism provides positive benefits for adults, children, and couples. Several studies cited time allotted for family bonding is decreasing, likely attributed to increased career demands and changing family structures. These studies further showed travel as a means to utilize limited family time to help improve communications within a relationship, reduce the possibility of divorce, strengthen lifelong family bonds, and increase a sense of well-being in adults and children. Gaps in the existent research were noted, and potential suggestions for future research are addressed.
Despite science learning in settings such as science museums being recognized as important and given increasing attention in science education circles, the investigation of parents’ and their children’s metacognition in such settings is still in its infancy. This is despite an individual’s metacognition being acknowledged as an important influence on their learning within and across contexts. This research investigated parents’ metacognitive procedural and conditional knowledge, a key element of their metacognition, related to (a) what they knew about how they and their children thought and learned, and (b) whether this metacognitive knowledge influenced their interactions with their children during their interaction with a moderately complex simulation in a science museum. Parents reported metacognitive procedural and conditional knowledge regarding their own and their children’s thinking and learning processes. Further, parents were aware that this metacognitive knowledge influenced their interactions with their children, seeing this as appropriate pedagogical action for them within the context of the particular exhibit and its task requirements at the science museum, and for the child involved. These findings have implications for exhibit and activity development within science museum settings.
Parent involvement research predominantly focuses on the involvement of mothers in children's educational experiences, and rarely speaks to the role of the “other” parent – fathers. Yet, there is building interest in the role that fathers play in children's development, and how this role may be especially salient during early childhood and the transition into formal schooling. This review critically evaluates father involvement literature from 1990 to 2005 within this early childhood population. In particular, it provides systematic evidence that to some degree researchers have been responsive to recent critiques, and lays out a path of sampling, methodological and conceptual challenges still left to be tackled.