April 29, 2015
Experiential learning was the first form of learning through which our ancient ancestors discovered and made sense of the wild world around them. The antiquity of the concept is captured eloquently in several ancient adages. Confucius once said ”tell me and I forget; show me and I may remember, and involve me and I will understand”. Similarly, the revered Greek philosopher Aristotle was quoted saying “for the things we have to learn before we can do them, we learn by doing them”.
The premise underlying experiential learning is that of learning by doing. One of the popular 20th century educationists who wrote prolifically on this concept is John Dewey. In both ” Democracy and Education” and “Experience and Education“, Dewey mapped out the major precepts underlying experiential learning. He particularly focused on engaging students in what he called ‘educative experiences’. These are experiences through which students get to connect their past learning with their present situation to speculate scenarios for future learning situations. According to Dewey, students learn best through hands-on activities and through direct engagement with the learning experience at hand.
Building on Dewey’s work , David Kolb conceptualized an experiential learning theory composed of four cyclical stages: activity and practice, review and reflections, theories and concepts, applications and case studies. Reality Works has this wonderful free visual with more insights on Kolb’s theory together with some interesting nuggets on what experiential learning is all about.
Check it out the full graphic from this page. Enjoy
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