How Traveling The World Makes Mr. Wagner’s Teaching Take Flight


Jaeden Betz, Contributor

 “When I first left the country to study abroad, I was a political science major,” Wagner said, “But I was always interested in history — Never in a million years thought I would be teaching it though.” 

Mr. Ryan Wagner is an AP World History teacher at Prior Lake High School. During the school year, he works hard to prepare his many sophomore students for the forthcoming AP World History exam, but when school ends and summer begins, he’s ready for a long and hard-earned trip abroad. 

Mr. Wagner has traveled all over the world, learning about people and cultures, but places never fail to surprise him. Mr. Wagner talks of how he prepared for a trip to the United Arab Emirates for “a long time, learning their customs and language” only to be surprised by just how “Westernized” the place was, stating how frequent British travelers probably aided in the westernization of the country. 

Mr. Wagner still gets nervous being a minority in a foreign place even after all his travels, but as he states: “that’s part of the fun.” 

Over this summer, Mr. Wagner, his wife, and their two kids traveled to Spain and Morocco. Mr. Wagner spoke of how important it is that his kids experience “new cultures and people” at a young age, and giving them an opportunity he didn’t have growing up in “the lower-middle class.” 

As to how Mr. Wagner’s knowledge and love of history helps him in foreign lands, he says that it “helps him identify certain things” and “helps the kids understand the importance.” 

He cited his recent trip to Spain, and how his knowledge of history helped him explain the many castles placed on hills throughout the country. Mr. Wagner told his family that the castles, built for defensive purposes, helped the Spanish fight off invaders to their land. After he told the story, Mr. Wagner said, “He saw his kids’ heads start to peek out the window. Mr. Wagner thinks traveling and history go hand-in-hand, he does this by preaching that “travel gives meaning to the learning, otherwise it’s just a bunch of facts and stories.” 

Mr. Wagner worries when sharing his stories in class though, as he “doesn’t want the class to be me showing slideshows,” but he feels stories from his travel can add depth to the discussion in class. Mr. Wagner loves when other people in the class share his experiences in travel and hopes that these discussions let people know that even if you don’t have the time or money to travel like he didn’t at a young age “you’ll have an opportunity to in the next 10 years.” 

It seems to have rubbed off on two of his former pupils, William Hockman and Carl Otten. Carl, like Mr. Wagner, took a trip to Europe this summer and felt that understanding the history of the places he visited “definitely helped” in his enjoyment of his trip. 

William Hockmann hasn’t had the opportunity to travel to Europe yet, but cites Rome as the destination he hopes to travel to the most. Hockman said: “Wagner’s class and learning about the history of Rome” gave him the drive to want to visit Italy’s most historic city. 

Traveling the world is an experience unlike any other, an experience only aided by a knowledge of history. Mr. Wagner has traveled around the world and inspired so many of his young students to do the same, so, how’s that political science major looking now? 

Mr. Wagner’s summer trip to Seville, Spain — visiting the famous bell tower The Giralda
Mr. Wagner on his summer trip to Morocco