The term ‘experiential learning’, or learning by doing is nothing new, indeed, as far back as the late 19th century, Rudolph Steiner had discovered that children learn best when they are actively engaged in the learning process. He believed that engaging the student in hands-on activities was the optimum way to learn, and what made Steiner stand out from other educators of his time was he approached things from the learner’s, rather than from the teacher’s perspective.
Merging Theory with Practice
Let’s take an example of teaching someone how to build a bicycle; you could spend countless hours in the classroom, drawing diagrams and explaining the various processes involved with assembling the bike, but the student won’t be able to build a bicycle, at least not until he starts to actually put the components together, and modern education is all about combining theory with practical hands-on work that enables the learner to master the art of whatever they are trying to do.
The best form of formal education today would come from a British international school in Bangkok, where they use the UK curriculum and qualified teachers who are imported from the home country. Such a school would have a project-based curriculum, where the students work together in groups, which gives them the essential skills they will need in the real world – critical thinking and problem-solving ability – and this hands-on approach engages the learner.
When a group of students choose a topic they wish to learn about, their teacher acts like a counsellor rather than a teacher, allowing the group to decide who is going to do what, and this develops teamwork, plus the group would have to also choose a method of presenting their project, an essential aspect of the learning process. By presenting your work to others, you are compounding the new knowledge to the point you will never forget it, and all of the core subjects can be incorporated into a project. If your child is almost at the end of their schooling, here are a few great career options you might want to consider.
The teacher in an active learning role does not teach as such, rather they facilitate the learning process and are more of an advisor than a teacher. It takes a lot of experience and training for a traditional teacher to adapt to hands-on learning, as their role is very different; traditional teaching sees the teacher instructing the students, while active learning demands a teacher that can guide the students, allowing them to make decisions, and ultimately mistakes, as this is the best way to learn. Here is a link to the UK National Curriculum, which is an informative website.
If you would like your child to experience active learning, there are many top schools that use project-based learning, and when visiting school websites, look for their mission and vision statements, as these will inform you of their beliefs regarding learning.