Experiential Learning vs. Traditional Classroom
If you have studied in a traditional classroom back in the ’90s this question is for you. How much of your schooling do you actually remember? Take a wild guess and remember what was the first chapter of say English or Science?
Unless you have mastered a particular subject and revised the textbook chances are, you have forgotten all about Algebra, Geometry, History, Geography, and others. Today’s schools, however, are leaning more towards an experiential way of learning and that is something that may want us to go back in time and study again! What say?
So, What Is Experiential Learning?
Experiential learning is learning through experience and reflections. It gets students involved by making them do things and challenges their minds. So, instead of merely listening to the teacher in the classroom and trying to understand what she says, children learn by actually doing what is being said. For example, If we are learning about the world map, kids can actually study with the globe in their hands or an actual live map and study, now that would really make them understand the world in a better way.
In the years gone by, the only kind of hands-on learning students did was sewing, painting, sports activities, music, and a few others. The choices then were limited. Also, subjects like History, Geography, and Science were more in the books and on the blackboard, and most children ended up mugging than learning. While all these subjects could have been interesting they were made boring and hence many people lost interest in them in the first place.
Experiential learning, on the other hand includes every subject possible in its educational approach. Let me explain this with a simple example; Instead of reading about a supermarket and how it works, children are taken to a real market and can experience it themselves. Similarly, they can learn about animals by visiting the zoo and observing them rather than just reading about them.
Even planting a seed in a transparent bottle and watching it grow step-by-step is experiential learning. In this case, children learn to observe and note their findings. They know about every step of the seed’s growth into a complete plant.
Experiential learning gives students a sneak-peek at what happens in the real world. They get hands-on training that can prepare them for future challenges. It helps them develop critical thinking, reasoning, and problem-solving skills. It also helps them develop their hobbies and interests and develops their personality from an early age.
How Does It Differ From Traditional Learning?
- Retains More Information
Several surveys conducted on learning methods have indicated that the most significant shortcoming with traditional learning is the retention of information. But in the case of experiential learning, because students are physically involved in the activity, they have a higher retention power. It means that children can remember more and can recall more information through hands-on learning.
- Student Centric
Traditional learning was more teacher-focused, where the teacher would either read and explain from a book or use the chalkboard to enhance their explanations. Experiential learning is more student-centric and captures each student’s ability to cope with the subject differently.
- Scoring Systems
Traditional Learning has tests and exams to determine the child’s knowledge. Children were scored based on their right answers rather than what they understood. In experiential learning, students have the flexibility of studying and are not judged on scores.
- Information Transfer
In a traditional classroom, information is transferred via books. So, students gain their knowledge or skills by reading or explanations by the teachers. In experiential classrooms, students get hands-on learning, and information is passed through experience.
Advantages Of Experiential Learning
- Children Learn Easily Through Hands-on Experience
You cannot be a photographer by just reading about photography. At some point, you will have to pick up a camera and start clicking photos to learn from your experience. Similarly, for children, learning is made easy when they experience things for themselves. Such hands-on activities bring the classroom to life and allow for an interactive session, where students learn a lot more than in a traditional classroom.
- Keeps Them Interested For A Longer Duration
The mind of a child tends to wander away if lectures get too dragged and boring. Students often doze off in classrooms when the teacher is only reading in a monotonous tone. Experiential classrooms, however, ensure that the kids stay interested for the entire duration of the lecture. Since the students are actually involved in learning, they have to concentrate more and observe things to gain knowledge.
- Improves Cognitive Functioning
When you are working with your hands, you use more than just the sense of touch. Thus, you activate more areas in your brain than you realize. Your brain can record more information in experiential learning, which trains you for multi-tasking in years to come. Your cognition improves, and you can develop abilities like creativity, problem-solving, critical thinking, and more.
- Promotes Soft Skills
Experiential learning often requires children to work in teams. It also needs children to reflect on what they have learned and share their observations with the class. Due to these activities and the nature of experiential learning, students develop soft skills such as teamwork and effective communication.
Traditional learning is slowly becoming the talk of the past. More schools and colleges today want to incorporate experiential learning into their teaching styles. Children will now be able to learn concepts better by doing things and becoming more aware.