There are many ways of exploring the world. Previously the choice of the means of exploring the world was rather limited. It was confined to books and meeting other people. Transport was poorly developed to allow people to travel throughout the world without difficulties. With the appearance of newspapers in the 17-th century people had a chance to learn about current events more quickly. The technical progress of the 20-th centuries has made our planet a small world. Any distance is covered in a twinkle of an eye. Today besides books and travelling the world can be explored with the help of mass media and the Internet.
Books are considered to be a traditional way of learning about the world around us. This is quite natural because books give information about various subjects. From the point of view of the 21-st century it is possible to say that this source of knowledge is proved by time. Books introduce us to the experience of the present, past, and future. In every day life we are limited by Time. We cannot enter the distant future or return to the past. Every moment we live only in the present. Books make an easily accessible time machine. They give everybody a wonderful opportunity to travel into the past and future. With the help of books we can almost eyewitness the major historical events, the way people lived in distant epochs. Ancient and medieval writers show us the world of the past centuries as it was. For example, by reading books about the expeditions to the North and South Poles we live the lives of the people who participated in them. From books we derive all possible knowledge of arts and sciences. Textbooks and manuals are written to give knowledge and information about different special things. It is held that nothing can be more important but the book acquired in time. All the revolutions are conceived first in mind and then put into practice. From the books we understand that the idea of an ideal society has interested people since antiquity. The stories about an ideal society were written by Plato, Thomas Moor, Adam Smith; modern scholars developed them. In the last two centuries attempts were made to put the dream into reality through a number of successive revolutions. I think that books play a very important part in our education. Every specialist first derives information from books.
Travelling as a way of learning also has a long tradition. In the past travelling was the final stage of the education of aristocrats. Lord Byron described his journey in his poem "Childe Harolde". It is very useful to visit different countries and get familiar with different cultures. People today are travelling far more than they ever used to. In the past people did not travel so much as we do today; they set sail in search of new lands and trade routes. Now a person travels in order to learn more about the culture of the country he is visiting and compare the real life of the people with the information given in the books. Sometimes the reality and the books do not coincide. The information given in the books does not often reflect the reality of the day. For example, the pictures of the great painters given in the albums do not show the size, colour or emotion of the paintings. That is why it is better to see paintings, sculpture and architecture in the original. Travelling is indispensable for learning foreign languages. Pupils go to different countries to learn the chosen language. In all European countries there are a lot of summer schools. They are not expensive, but are very useful. The effect is great. After studying at such schools pupils can speak English more fluently. They do not have a language barrier any more. They can establish contacts with people easier. Travelling is very popular today. The most fantastic wishes are put into life due to modern technologies. Millions of people move from their own countries. By mountain biking or skiing, flying into outerspace, feeding sharks or just sight seeing people explore both themselves and the world around them. It should be said that now people travel by car, train, plane, ship, spacecraft or on foot. Travelling, going from one place to another, gives a person a kind of social experience.
I am fond of travelling because it is the best way to learn the world. It gives me a chance to see new places and meet new people. Reminiscences about my travelling experience will stay with me forever and a day. I guess that the most impressive was the trip to Greece a year ago. I spent there a fascinating fortnight. I visited Athens, Delphi, and Corinth. The trip was especially important to me because we were through with the history of Ancient Greece and it gave a rare opportunity to see the place where Ancient Greek history happened. I saw the region where ancient heroes lived, fought and died. I visited the temples of incomparable beauty, especially the Parthenon. And may be there in Greece I made up my mind to be a historian.
Unfortunately, the majority of the Greek monuments and ancient cities lie in ruins. Everything that I saw seemed unreal to me. The temple in Delphi, the citadel in Mycenae, the theatre in Epidaurus, the tombs of the ancient kings seemed to be the remnants of an alien race to which we do not belong. People had abandoned the cities before they were forgotten for centuries to come. Only excavations returned most of the monuments to humanity. I saw St. Paul's Pulpit in Ancient Corinth, the mask of Agamemnon from Mycenae, the reconstructed Athenian treasury in the Sanctuary of Apollo in Delphi. Although the Ancient Greek civilisation has vanished we still admire its temples and statues. We want to know more about the people who erected them. Nauplia, the first capital of modern Greece, is full of life. The fortress, erected by the Venetians in the 18-th century, has become a museum to remind people of the heroic deeds of the past. In 1822 it was the stronghold of the rebellious Greeks that led them to independence from the Turks.
By travelling we get new information. The period of extensive travelling is called the Age of Discovery. Tourism, activity or practice of touring for pleasure, is the phenomenon of the 20-th century.
Another phenomenon of the 20-th century is the Internet. It is a brand-new way of exploring the world. This symbol of the 20-th century is becoming more and more popular among the people of different ages and social standing. Through the Internet people get all kind of information. The Internet as a means of communication is very convenient: a person can get a lot of information without leaving his apartment. The Internet breaks the traditional frontiers. Through it a person, who lives in Moscow, gets information which is stored in the libraries of Oxford, Cambridge or Washington.
The Internet is the global communication system. With its help a person can find friends, who share his interests and tastes in any part of the world. Such programmes as ICQ (I Seek You) and AOL (America Online) Messenger, specifically designed for communication, make it easy and thrilling. Through the Internet it is not only possible to receive messages from a friend in the United States, but see a picture of him and hear his voice. The only problem is that people in different countries speak different languages and in order to explore the full depth of the Internet one should know the universal language of international communications, English. The invention of the mobile phone, the wireless means of communication, allows a contemporary man to communicate and get information 24 hours wherever he/she is.
We can not imagine our life without mass media. They are one more source of information. Mass media give not only the current information about the situation in the world. They impose certain values on contemporary man. Sometimes information given by television, radio, newspapers is contradictory and man must decide which one is more reliable. The received information moulds the way of thinking. It is imposed on people in such a way that they hardly understand that they are robots and the greatest task of mass media is to programme man to do certain things. Of course it is possible to switch everything off and live in isolation but then people will deprive themselves of one of the sources of information. Previously it took news months to travel from Asia to Europe; today it takes it only several seconds. It is better to be selective to all the received information, for it is really important to live with mass media.
- What are other ways of getting information?
- Films can be regarded as one more source of information, especially educational and documentary. It is better to watch such films at home with the help of television or video.
- Does television help pupils in their education?
- Yes, it does. There are educational programmes, which help pupils to study history, geography, biology, and learn foreign languages.
- Which way of getting information is the best for you?
- I cannot say which way of getting information is the best. It depends upon various factors. Sometimes it is necessary to travel to get more information. I think that books continue to be the best and the most traditional way of getting information. We cannot deny that to get information through the Internet is very convenient. As for me, I think that all the above mentioned manners are useful and important. It is impossible for me to chose one way at the expense of others.
- Do you often go to the museums?
- No, I do not. Unfortunately I do not have much free time. But I like to go to the museums, especially to the art galleries. Visiting museums is another possible way of exploring the world. There are a lot of museums in Moscow. I like to go to the State Tretyakov Gallery. There I can walk for hours to enjoy my favourite paintings by Bryullov, Vrubel, Petrov-Vodkin, and other great artists.