Experiential Learning in Schools
Education is not preparation for life; education is life itself- John Dewey
Schools are not mere institutions imparting wisdom and knowledge, they form the milestones for an individual’s capability in the arena of life. It is about applying your concepts and skills into real world problems and situations. Experiential learning is an approach that can redefine education by engaging students in critical thinking, problem solving and decision making. Beyond all conventional methods used in schools, lies the mantra for consolidating ideas and shaping the dexterity of a child in the form of experiential learning techniques.
The entire process is based on learning through experiences. The learners gain knowledge through critically analysing what they’ve done on a practical basis. Through these insightful activities, they develop a pattern of reflection that aids them to apply these discoveries into their routine. Aristotle wrote, “For the things we have to learn before we can do them, we learn by doing them.” It is essential for the all-round development of a child, to enhance his creative self by exploring new horizons of learning. Experiential learning categorise in the form of initiation, analysis and immersion, which as compared to academic learning experiences, involves the students in a more concrete experience. They can retain these things better, as it is learnt through experience and not just abstract means.
The current academic curriculum followed in Indian schools lays more emphasis on gaining knowledge than applying it. Offering a pragmatic solution to conceptual problems is what is required to enhance their skills in contexts which are significant to them. Experiential learning does all that. Doing something on your own is always more productive and useful than stuff learnt through books and lectures. It not only seems more interesting but also minimises chances of any loopholes within concepts, as everything is verified with application.
Experiential learning teaches the competencies of real world problems to students and helps them to discover novel approaches by reflecting on their own experiences. Authentic opportunities like internships, clinical problems and research projects have proved beneficial in the personality development and skill enhancement of college students. The same methods can prove useful even in case of school students since they are more vulnerable to change. They can have a profound impact in shaping young minds. The pillars of this technique as per Kolb’s learning cycle are: experience, conceptualization, reflection and tests. All of these are significant in any aspect of experiential learning. What is vital in this experience is that the individual is directly involved in all activities and can analyse them for better performances.
Like any other educational pedagogy, experiential learning has its own share of appraisals and criticisms. Critics feel that implementation of these aspects can be a mammoth task for Indian educationists and the process will be initially time-consuming for students. However, if the foundation for experiential learning is laid in our schools, great benefits can be reaped from it. A little effort in establishment today, can shape a better tomorrow.