OverviewIndia is home to brilliant scientists, doctors, engineers, philosophers, and writers. But, India isalso home to scores of rote learners. These students memorize by heart the concepts they aretaught, rather than understanding them. While it is easy to blame the students, the fault actuallylies within our education system. The Indian education system does not leave room forunderstanding, analysis, and creativity.Students in the western world, on the other hand, are made to think about the concepts they arelearning. The emphasis of the curriculum of schools in the United States and in Europe is oncomprehension. Also, unlike India, the education system in the West enables the students toexercise a greater amount of choices regarding what they want to learn.For instance, in India, students have the choice between Arts, Science, and Commerce streamsafter Class X. This segregation is rigid and lasts for their lifetime. In the United States, studentsare free to take up any subject that they wish to pursue. This system allows an arts graduate tobecome a doctor or an engineer. A science student can take up law or any other profession her orshe may wish to. Apart from a wide array of subjects to choose from, students are alsoencouraged to learn at least one foreign language, and pursue performing or fine arts.In our country, pupils have no option but to become rote learners because of the extremeimportance attached, both by their parents and teachers, to their performance in a three-hourwritten examination. These examinations, however, are not a real test of a child’s comprehensionability. In reality, if the children are able to regurgitate all that they have memorized from theirtext books, they score top marks.One of the biggest fallouts of this system of education is that it completely annihilates anyimagination that the child may possess. Children in the US, in comparison, are marked on theirproject works apart from written tests. The project work often proves to be their acid test.The Indian education system too, should work towards developing a set-up where a child is notrated merely on the basis of marks scored in an exam. It is important to ensure that he carries hiseducation all throughout his life. A greater flexibility in the choice of subjects also will begreatly appreciated by Indian students. Such a choice will only increase their opportunities.It is often said that for a building to be strong, its foundation should be rock solid. The sametheory applies to an education system as well. Only if students are guided properly right fromtheir first few years in school, will they emerge as decisive and confident students later. Youngerstudents need to be introduced to every facet of learning, but, one step at a time. Child expertsare of the view that at no point should the young students feel the pressure of education.According to them, the right balance between learning and fun must be stricken in order or themto enjoy what they are learning.
Experiential Learning - Need of the HourExperiential learning is learning through reflection on doing, which is often contrasted with roteor didactic learning. Experiential learning is related to, but not synonymous with, experientialeducation, action learning, adventure learning, free choice learning, cooperative learning,and service learning. While there are relationships and connections between all these theories ofeducation, importantly they are also separate terms with separate meanings.Experiential learning focuses on the learning process for the individual (unlike conventionaleducation, which focuses on the transactive process between teacher and learner). An example ofexperiential learning is going to the zoo and learning through observation and interaction withthe zoo environment, as opposed to reading about animals from a book. Thus, one makesdiscoveries and experiments with knowledge firsthand, instead of hearing or reading aboutothers experiences.Experiential learning requires no teacher and relates solely to the meaning making process of theindividuals direct experience. However, though the gaining of knowledge is an inherent processthat occurs naturally, for a genuine learning experience to occur, there must exist certainelements. According to David Kolb, an American educational theorist, knowledge iscontinuously gained through both personal and environmental experiences. He states that inorder to gain genuine knowledge from an experience, certain abilities are required: 1. the learner must be willing to be actively involved in the experience; 2. the learner must be able to reflect on the experience; 3. the learner must possess and use analytical skills to conceptualize the experience; and 4. the learner must possess decision making and problem solving skills in order to use the new ideas gained from the experience.MethodsThere are many ways in which experiential education is practiced. Five of them include: ActiveBased Learning, Problem Based Learning, Project Based Learning, Service Learning and PlaceBased Learning. All of these use the pattern of problem, plan, test and reflect as their foundationfor the educative experience. This is by no means an exhaustive list of methods used reflectingthe philosophy of experiential education. 1. Active Based Learning—All participants in the group must engage actively in working together toward the stated objectives. 2. Problem Based Learning—Provides a structure for discovery that helps students internalize learning and leads to greater comprehension. 3. Project Based Learning—An instructional method that uses projects as the central focus of instruction in a variety of disciplines.
4. Service Learning—Providing meaningful service to a community agency or organization while simultaneously gaining new skills, knowledge and understanding as an integrated aspect of an academic program. 5. Place Based Learning—the process of using local community and environment as a starting point to teach concepts in language arts, mathematics, social studies, science, and other subjects across the curriculum.ImplementationExperiential learning can be a highly effective educational method. It engages the learner at amore personal level by addressing the needs and wants of the individual. Experiential learningrequires qualities such as self-initiative and self-evaluation. For experiential learning to be trulyeffective, it should employ the whole learning wheel, from goal setting, to experimenting andobserving, to reviewing, and finally action planning. This complete process allows one to learnnew skills, new attitudes or even entirely new ways of thinking.Most educators understand the important role experience plays in the learning process. A funlearning environment, with plenty of laughter and respect for the learners abilities, also fostersan effective experiential learning environment. It is vital that the individual is encouraged todirectly involve themselves in the experience, in order that they gain a better understanding ofthe new knowledge and retain the information for a longer time.As stated by the ancient Chinese philosopher, Confucius, "tell me and I will forget, show meand I may remember, involve me and I will understand."According to learning consultants, experiential learning is about creating an experience wherelearning can be facilitated. How do you create a well-crafted learning experience? The key lies inthe facilitator and how he or she facilitates the learning process. An excellent facilitator believesin the creed: "You teach some by what you say, teach more by what you do, but most of all, youteach most by who you are." And while it is the learners experience that is most important to thelearning process, it is also important not to forget the wealth of experience a good facilitator alsobrings to the situation.An effective experiential facilitator is one who is passionate about his or her work and is able toimmerse participants totally in the learning situation, allowing them to gain new knowledge fromtheir peers and the environment created. These facilitators stimulate the imagination, keepingparticipants hooked on the experience.Creating an experiential learning environment can be challenging for educators who have beentaught through traditional classroom techniques. Identifying activities that allow learners tounderstand and absorb concepts can be a new and daunting experience. In traditional classroomswhere lectures with PowerPoint slide sets are standard, educators need to be creative to engagestudents, get them up out of their chairs, involved in an experience. However, by providing direct
experience in addition to standard written and visual materials, learners with different types oflearning styles and strengths can be accommodated.