Learning from The Way


The Emilio Estevez film The Way has great educational potential.

While those with an interest in the idea of religious pilgrimage will clearly find much of interest in the film, there are other themes in the film which merit some consideration.

The first of these themes is the value of companionship and commensality. Despite their different personalities and life-stories, the protagonists come to share experiences and hopes through walking, talking and eating together. The portrayal of these virtues reminds us of the value of simplicity in life and how education is at its best when it builds on ordinary life and allows the students to help others to live a life of value while searching for illumination. If this broader dimension is not part of the educational experience then we are left with education understood solely as a self-interested search for qualifications and associated careers.

A related theme is the value of the outdoors and how experiencing nature in the company of others is a key moment in developing a sense of wonder and appreciation of the beauty of creation. In a world which searches for the perfect body through the torture of long-distance running and prolonged  'exercise' sessions in a sweat-drenched gymnasium, here we see the value of 'the walk' through nature as a fine way of keeping the body (and the mind) in shape.

Finally, we see the value of an international dimension to education. While the film is set in Spain, the protagonists come from different countries and find common ground in the walk to the shrine of St. James. It would be good to think that more young people will now take up the challenge to walk to this ancient place of pilgrimage and find hope and peace in the international companionship they find along the way.






Leonard Franchi. "Learning from The Way." Taking Education Seriously blog (June 26, 2011).

Excerpted by permission of the author, Leonard Franchi.


Leonard Franchi teaches at the School of Education at the University of Glasgow. His interests are the history of Christian education and the relationship between catechesis and Religious Education. Visit his blog here.

Copyright © 2011 Leonard Franchi

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