Experiential Learning As The Future Of Education
Places like educational theme zones, parks, beaches, etc. provide new experiences for your children that leave them with lasting impressions of their encounters with fresh learnings and challenges
How frequently do we rely on our experiences to guide us through various situations daily? We often hear that mainstream education does not prepare students for the real world; which is why prime importance has been given to internships, projects and part-time jobs by most of the universities today.
Universities have started offering co-op courses so that students essentially get practical work-experience along with academic knowledge. This makes the transition from school to work smoother than usual. It really makes us wonder though if there’s something inherently lacking from mainstream education? If yes, then what is it? Since we majorly rely on experiences to navigate, why aren’t we incorporating practical learning in our educational patterns? Skills like planning, networking, communication, adaptability, leadership, teamwork and so many more are learned through experience. The majority of our day to day functioning is done through experience, then why do we learn from a book? Let me rephrase, why do we rote?
These are the questions psychologists and educationalists have been asking. They believe the key element of learning anything is learning through experience. Hence, they came up with the theory of ‘Experiential Learning’. ‘Experiential Learning’ can be undertaken in numerous ways. As briefly mentioned above, internships are key to understand the workings of the industry they are working on or would like to work in eventually. This puts things in perspective and breaks any preconceived notions and assumptions they might have.
In fact, we see children of all age groups role-playing, to get into the character of who they’re pretending to be. For example, I remember my early days of role-playing as the WWF wrestler, or being a GI JOE, Superman to a race car driver to a pilot. Similarly, we see kids today - if they want to be a hairdresser, they will get hold of a pair of scissors and act as if they are styling or cutting someone’s hair, if not anyone, their doll’s hair. They also become teachers someday, emulating their school teachers. With imaginary students, these kids create actual worksheets. This shows that they are naturally wired to experience things and not only rote. This goes to show that being a pretend-librarian or hairstylist, are extremely beneficial for young kids.
Mainstream education, especially in Asian countries, is limited in its abilities to exercise any form of ‘Experiential Learning’. So the question remains how can we, as teachers, parents, and facilitators, provide these young minds with experiences that they can truly learn from and rely on. The answer is simple, we must bridge the gap between the child and the experience and do everything we can to be resourceful to modern learning for kids. Since Experiential Learning involves learning from direct experience or “doing” rather than listening or memorizing facts, should be the main concern of all theme parks.
It’s important that as parents and educationalists we accompany kids to places that provide experiential learning, where they can experience what it is like to navigate places, find shops and restaurants. Also, play in different environments where they are challenged constantly. Another great way to promote experiential learning is by creating different situations at home and having them help around the house. This teaches them to not only be independent but when each small task is completed, they have a sense of accomplishment that can really increase their self-confidence. When they complete small tasks all by themselves, they feel empowered to do more tasks independently and efficiently. First-hand experiences in their early years ensure a holistic development and help in the growth of their people’s skills, communication, and problem-solving skills.
Although it might seem like a new concept, it truly is not. During the primal centuries of human civilization, with trial and error of their experiences is how most of the people learned. For example, skilled artisans, their schooling was basically constant internships. Gurukuls work on the completely same philosophy. They learn from nature and their guru puts everything in perspective catalysing constant reflections. The benefits of experiential learning are innumerable, and it is quite hassle-free to take your kids to these places. Places like educational theme zones, parks, beaches, etc. provide new experiences for your children that leave them with lasting impressions of their encounters with fresh learnings and challenges.
Disclaimer: The views expressed in the article above are those of the authors' and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of this publishing house. Unless otherwise noted, the author is writing in his/her personal capacity. They are not intended and should not be thought to represent official ideas, attitudes, or policies of any agency or institution.