In today’s fast-paced, crazy world, there are many different schools of thought on how we should be preparing and teaching children the skills necessary to help them be successful, productive members of society. One such school of thought that is continuing to gain additional headway is experiential learning. The concept of hands-on learning is presenting new opportunities for students and faculty, which can really make learning fun, memorable, and inspiring!
What is experiential education?
As we’ve discussed before, experiential learning is a method of education in which students improve their academic prowess, talents and values outside the setting of a traditional classroom. Let’s be honest, most of us can’t remember the day we learned the equation for finding the circumference of a circle (try not to Google it). But we can tell you about the time we had class outside on a balmy spring day, or about a field trip to the dairy farm, or about the time you met your state Senator who taught you all about how your government works. Real life experience is frequently much more stimulating than reading books, especially when it comes to younger generations. It bridges the gap between theory and practice. Many students don’t learn as well as others by simply reading about concepts in their textbooks. As a result, the roadmap they use to navigate their own education can read more like the instruction manual to an 80 piece bunk bed. And we’ve all had that type of frustration etched firmly in our memories. Imagine how it feels to our children in today’s high-pressure world full of tests and benchmarks. Experiential education is a godsend when it comes to recalling new, learned concepts, and the hands-on approach provides learning retention in spades, thus making life noticeably easier for young learners.
How does experiential education aid recollection?
As we mentioned earlier, experiential learning is a hands-on approach to education. However, it involves much more than purely real life experience. According to an article published by the Association of American Colleges & Universities, ”Often, students cannot apply even recently learned information to new situations. Modern cognitive scientists ascribe this inability to apply what is learned to a failure to conditionalize knowledge; the learners don’t see the relevance and cannot access what they know when confronted with an opportunity for transfer.” Experiential learning aims to remedy exactly that.
To be considered experiential learning, there must be periods of synthesis, critical analysis, and reflection throughout the activity. This will allow students the opportunity to make decisions and be held accountable for the results. There must also be opportunities for students to participate either intellectually, creatively, emotionally, socially, or physically. The learning experience will include the possibility to learn from natural consequences that arise from mistakes and successes. It is through these processes that recollection is bolstered significantly for the learner. Each session is much like an internship experience for the student. This is why things like internships are so beneficial to recent college graduates seeking employment in their field and why they are often required. Much of what students learn in their programs has yet to be applied to a real life scenario, leaving them underprepared. It is not as easy to form contingency plans if you have never made your own mistakes. Simply put: if we wanted to teach students to swim, we would not just give them a book on swimming, but instead provide them with real-life experiences and opportunities to learn how to swim.
Experiential learning is becoming the wave of the future in modern education and provides a safe, effective way for students to learn more efficiently and retain the knowledge each experience imparts on them.
Outdoor Educational Field Trips in South Florida
Nature’s Academy is a nonprofit environmental education company in South Florida focusing on educational field trips in Florida.
For more information about experiential education or to schedule an outdoor field trip in Florida click here. Alternatively, you can call us on 941.462.2162.