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The Secrets to Raising a Smarter Child
- By Inderbir Sandhu, Ph.D


Experiential Learning and Education - Basics

By Andrew Loh

Thousands of years back, the great Greek Philosopher Aristotle said, "The things we have to learn before we do them, we learn by doing them." In a way, he was so pragmatic and truthful in saying that you can learn something only by doing them. In fact, learning is an intricate process of accumulating knowledge and skills. However, learned knowledge can become useful only when you put them into actual practice. In other words, you can learn something only with prior experience. Experience is the most important key that will empower you with the learning power. Experience gains importance and criticality among younger children and toddlers. They can learn only by gaining experience by doing certain things.

In this regard, the term experience is like a catalyst that boosts learning process in young children. In a typical English dictionary, the word experience has a number of meanings:

Experience "practical knowledge, skill, or practice derived from direct observation of or participation in events or in a particular activity".

In other words, experience refers to the nature of events your children have undergone in the past. Experience is what is happening to your children in their life and all the time. Experience occurs during their lifetime and it is a continuous process. In its present tense, experience tells us about the subjective nature of your children's current existence. On the other hand, in its past tense, the word experience means an accumulated repository of experiences gained over time.

For example,

  • A toddler accumulates experience of walking by actually walking over a period.

  • A young boy can say that fire is dangerous for the him only after experiencing the immense pain of touching the fire.

  • A young girl will gain experience of using a skipping rope only after practicing it for some time.

Of late, academic experts and educational counselors are realizing the importance of learning through experience by studying the effect of experience of the quality of learning. The latest buzzword that almost every parent hears today is the principle of Experiential Learning. It seems more educational experts are advocating the importance of experience in education.

What is experiential learning?

In essence, experiential learning has two basic meanings to it. In the first version, your children will learn something all by themselves without the help or assistance of their parents or teachers. In the other sense, they will learn something with help of basic concepts of experiential education. In the second meaning, your children will learn through course and teaching programs designed, structured and delivered by their classroom teachers.

Learning by you is natural and everyone in this world learns all by himself or herself. Nature helps and assists everyone with an ability to gain experience by doing something. In other words, an education occurs with your direct participation in the events that occurred in the past. It is an education that your children acquires by reflecting on experiences gained every day. It is also very informal and occurs as a natural event in the life of your children.

On the other hand, modified and well-structured course and classroom programs will also help your children learn by accumulating good experiences. To make this a reality, your children will need to the help of classroom teachers. In other words, a classroom teacher will organize and initiate a number of programs and course curriculum that will help your children learn something that is actually beneficial and advantageous.

In a typical classroom setting, your children will become actively involved in the learning process than in a traditional and universal type of classroom education. Some of the examples of experiential education are as follows:

  • Learning about football in the classroom involves knowing about the game, players, rules, playing and winning process all through the books and theory. However, your children can learn by actually playing the game of football in a football field. Here, the child will apply the theory of football in a football field and gain practical experience by playing with other children.

  • It is always advantageous and beneficial to learn about animals and birds by visiting a zoo or a park and actually seeing them with your own eyes.

Note: Experience in a classroom is providing an opportunity for the students to gain practical experience by combining the classroom teachings.

Most of our classrooms depend on a teaching by using conventional textbooks. However, this approach may not help your children in their future because the training that they get in their classroom is just scholastic and academic. To make your children reach success in their life, you may need to teach them advantages of using the classroom lessons in a practical manner and gain invaluable experience of actually applying the lessons in practice. Continue to read Experiential Learning and Education - Practical Methods


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