Experiential Learning: Producing A Capable And Passionate Generation

Learning can happen in many ways and schools as physical spaces aren’t needed for academic mastery much as they are needed for social gatherings.

What a year of unprecedented events, changing everything we knew and did until now; all at once; for everyone; in transformative ways. Even in education, where nothing has changed since 200 years ago, teachers are now learning technologies they disregarded all these years, and students are attending class without having to face forward or sit in attention. Everyone realises that learning can happen in many ways and schools as physical spaces aren’t needed for academic mastery much as they are needed for social gatherings.  

All the world is a laboratory for the inquiring mind 

In the coming years, classrooms, as we know them now, will probably not exist. The concept of one location to learn everything will give way to ‘learning where the learners want it’, where the stimuli for learning something exists, not where it is convenient to gather everyone, en masse. School campuses will become less useful for learning subjects as they are used now and more useful to teach empathy, leadership, creativity and collaboration skills. In the past, people believed in the fallacy that a school campus greatly impacted their children’s learning. But as the very same campuses and classrooms lie empty today, we realise where and how they remain useful. Also given that a school only operates for about 180 days for most children around the world, they were never productive learning spaces, to begin with. 

Studies reveal a steep decline in learners’ enthusiasm at school as they approach graduation. Data also suggests that an abysmally low percentage of learners now relate to their school as fun or interesting places. These trends make it evident that we need to leave behind our pedagogical pasts and make the shift towards interest-based learning. This means, creating rich opportunities for experiential learning, wherever and whenever it suits the learner: be it at botanical gardens, bird sanctuaries, manufacturing plants, docked ships – and even in their own homes, thus learning from real-life experiences and real-world applications. In such a distributed model, students will learn better because they are immersed in experiences that interest them as opposed to sitting in a room with 4 walls and being coerced to learn things that seem to serve them no immediate purpose or have no relevance to their lives. Ask any 15-year-old who has just returned from a field trip, if the outing was better than sitting in class and you’ll have your answer. 

Rather than imagining a large campus where you child is one among hundreds of students, a more helpful perspective is to envision your child having deep experiences in multiple locations that are curated to his or her individual learning needs and interests. 

Nurturing passion in the post-pandemic world 

As we grapple with the vagaries of the pandemic, it is only natural that we slip further to the bottom of Maslow’s pyramid: our priorities have moved to more physiological needs than self-actualization and passion. However, a part of our evolution depends on how we adapt to the changes caused by COVID-19. It has got companies to change in a way that Jason Fried has not managed to in over 15 years! Offices are working nearly as efficiently as before without going to a ‘workplace’. Education too can change, as needed by different age groups, to guarantee our existence and ability to thrive in the future. 

Although we are greatly restricted to online-only learning at the moment, it is time we invested in developing blended learning (a hybrid of in-person and remote learning) schedule to keep pace with the changes that are happening around us. In summary, learning outside the classroom is how learning can remain relevant and real. It should no longer be restricted to two or three field trips in a year. Distributed education must become the central theme, considering the massive impact it will have on nurturing creativity and increasing the learning outcomes we seek from ‘education’.

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

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