Sunday, February 26, 2012

Experiential Learning

Personally, I feel that I have learned more experientially over my years as an educator than I ever did as a student in an undergraduate classroom setting. As my experiences relate to my classroom approach, I incorporate many hands-on, peer-monitored, application-based activities in my math classes. Not only does this approach help maintain students' interest and focus, but it is essential for my students to be able to answer for themselves, the age-old question, "when are we ever going to use this?" Clearly, the lecture-only based classroom is a non-effective learning environment for 21st-century adolescent learners. This approach leads to students who "bow their heads to take notes, lift faces bravely, and too often gaze with a glazed look at the [teacher]" (Braid, 2008, p. 42). Whereas, experiential learning helps "to shatter the glassy stare" (Braid, 2008, p. 42).

It amazes me that on-the-job experience, student teaching, or experiential learning in general--especially in regards to veteran professionals like us--is so often looked upon as being less preferred than formal classroom learning. I simply do not understand that rationale. Don't the best leaders/educators combine what they have learned in the classroom with experiential learning and apply that to their followers'/students' real-world learning environments? How can experience so often count for so little to those in charge of hiring or appointing leaders? Mind-boggling.... 

References
Braid, B. (2008). Majoring in the minor: A closer look at experiential learning. Honors in Practice, 4, 37-42. Retrieved from www.nchchonors.org/nchcpublications.shtml

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