Experiential Learning - Being Able to Know First Hand is Key to Fun Learning.
A school-age boy stepped on something in his local creek. Imagine the "cool" factor of actually stepping on an abandoned mastodon tooth in your neighborhood creek bed one hot summer day just before lunch! The lucky 9-year old kid who had that experience will never look at a creek, a tooth or anything referring to mastodons - in the same way again! Because our little guy was able with a single step to transform an ordinary creek bed into an outdoor classroom, his approach to learning has been transformed as well. The questions that are posed to educators are: should learning be fun, and what are the best ways to make learning fun? We cannot all go through life looking for lucky educational creek beds, but we can approach the world as an open classroom, ready for people of all ages to dive in and learn as they have never learned before!
Experiential Learning is Key to Grabbing the Attention of Students of All Ages.
Back in education past, written learning and repetition were the most common methods of teaching and learning a school lesson. Students had to learn, memorize, and then regurgitate their lesson contents to be able to pass to a higher grade. Somewhere along the way, educators realized that there was a more effective way to teach lessons and reach students. The course of classroom education changed for the better. Students began to use regular textbooks, which were written with the student in mind. As the learning began to drift away from the “wrote” style of teaching and learning, education and research began to bloom. As the educators themselves began to explore teaching and learning methods, students began to engage differently with their school materials.
Hands-on Learning is the Most Engaging and Most Effective.
Classroom learning is most effective when there is opportunity for hands-on learning. When a visual example can be presented, explained, and related to daily life, the student can actually see the subject matter and can envision its interplay with the world. Instead of merely reading about something, the student can see it in action and be better able to visualize its interaction with the context of the rest of life and the larger world.
Having a Relevant and Engaging Learning Experience Makes the Lessons More Vivid and Memorable and Makes a More Thorough Impact on Students of Any Age.
Because individuals learn in different ways and at different paces, being able to break up periods of lecture and reading and alternating those with more experiential learning situations, each student will have the opportunity to learn in her preferred learning style while at the same time getting to participate in the other forms of learning going on around her. This availability of diverse learning experiences can allow an education provider to allow students to figure out the best methods for their own learning.
With Learning, the Acts of Seeing and Demonstrating Can Help the Students in Their Believing and Internalizing the Facts.
Experiential learning allows students to actually see a successful example of the lesson in real time. Being able to see the lesson material come to life will allow the students to process it in their own ways and to take away the intended lesson in full.
Having an Actual Learning Experience in a Lab Opens Science Up to the Uninitiated.
Despite the squeamish tendencies caused by performing some science experiments, having the opportunity to dissect a representative animal or fish can have a more profound effect on a young mind than merely looking at pictures in a book. Being able to view the workings of the anatomy of the subject creature can ignite the learning potential of a future doctor.
Getting to Research in Old Record Books Can Inspire Curiosity in a Young (or Mature) Mind.
Having the chance to experience old primary sources handled by famous people can have an inspiring effect on learners. Actually getting to view a text written by one of the nation’s Founding Fathers, such as the Declaration of Independence or an original of the Gettysburg Address can have an amazing effect on a budding young politician (or even on her parents.)
Finding a Fossil in an Old Rock from a Student’s Driveway can Bring the Concepts of Preservation, History, and Antiquity Literally to the Front Door!
There is nothing quite as exciting for a student than to find a fossil print affixed to an old brown rock from the yard or driveway. Most likely, that fossil is of an unfortunate bug who got in the way of the rock’s formation back in its hot dark past...but the awareness that young rock collector will experience as she gazes for the first time at something she has heard about in school that now has appeared in her driveway!
Preparing Something as Simple as a Leaf Collection can Bring the Study of Plant Life Into Focus in Real Life.
Because plants are such an important part of a healthy diet for humans, it is important that students are given an appreciation for plants and their food-supply derivatives. Being able to learn about plant cells from actual plants is a bonus for a budding young biologist or botanist.
Students Who Are Engaged in the Learning Process are Acquiring the Capacity to Become Engaged Citizens in Their World.
Being engaged in the world's affairs as a result of curiosity created through education is perhaps the best by-product of a good education. Long after the names of army generals have merged with algebraic equations in the brains of former students, healthy curiosity lives on in the mind.
Perhaps the best by-product of a good education. Long after the names of army generals have merged with algebraic equations in the brains of former students, healthy curiosity lives on in the mind.
Engaged Learners Who Have Enjoyed a Successful Education will be More Willing to Share that Education with Those Who Follow.
Individuals who have experienced a positive education experience, having fun while learning and using their knowledge to enhance their futures will be likely to share their positive experiences with students following after them.
Learning about subjects and things that the student views as fun makes the prize for the learning turn out to be the fun as much as the final grade. While the final grade is nice for the student's transcript, the fun education becomes a part of that student's self. The student can incorporate all of the learning to become better informed about the world and can become conversant about the forces facing her life and the world around her.