What is experiential learning and why is it important?

  • 11 Jan, 2021

As humans, we are social animals and tend to interact with the people and environment around us. It is from our experiences we have amassed over time that we learn the most in life. While knowledge from books is important, the true worth of the knowledge and information gained from school books is known through practical experiences where you implement the knowledge and understand the value of it. By the way of doing, a human learns the most and experiences gathered from actions stay with us as lessons.

In our early childhood, books are not our first teachers. Books come second to our early experiences which teach us a lot of things and develop our thought processes and reflexes. From our likes to dislikes, our beliefs to our fears, all our behavioural nuances and body language have been shaped from our early childhood experiences. Our brain and its perception develop from our experiences because as a toddler, our brain has no knowledge of many things. It is through our first experiences that we differentiate between things and separate the right from wrong. Whether its our first words or our first steps, the most basic learning for us happens through experiences. For example, whether fire is hot or not is not known to a baby until he has come close to it. We only know of fire’s warmth and its potential to harm us through our first experiences around it. We learn the most basic as well as the most complex things in life through experiences. x It therefore makes sense to extend learning through experiences during schooling too and integrating experience into the learning process at school is called experiential learning.

SAI International school believes in exploring novel ways of teaching and learning which inspire students at SAI to look beyond books to learn and find sources of knowledge all around them. It therefore takes an experiential approach to learning to maximise their intake and retention of knowledge. This is with a belief that students learn in a better way when they are engaged in various educational activities and implement what they have learnt in actions.

For us, practical experiences are the connecting links between theory and knowledge. Experiences are what shape a student’s intellect and have a great role to play in how they learn and what they learn. In a world which demands a lot out of an individual than just bookish knowledge taken in by rote learning, experiential learning is the future of learning. Like the famous scientist Albert Einstein once said, all knowledge of reality starts from experience and ends with it. Theory might be giving us an inkling of reality and the framework to work with it, but each one of us understands the reality of the world around us through individual experiences. Experiential learning therefore preserves a person’s individualism and gives him the freedom to navigate his own path of learning. This way students are honed to be independent, confident and intelligent.

Through curiosity and experiences, minds are sharpened and readied for a bright future at SAI International School. As a school, we believe that it is important to provide our students a free and conducive environment which ubiquitously supports our students’ diverse learning needs and inspires them to explore their creativity and imagination.  By taking an experiential learning approach, we help them have fruitful experiences which end up becoming revelations and lessons for them. Experiential learning allows the students to identify their areas of interest and develop them into feasible skill set so that they can be implemented in real life and help them build their career at a later stage in their life. It engages the students in a better and fruitful way, ensuring that they learn something new every day at school and prepare themselves for the future that awaits them outside it. Engaging the student mind during years when they have short attention spans is a challenge and experiential learning achieves that goal easily. Experiential learning engages the mind in a stimulating way and promotes the over all development of a child. Since one of the prime goals of SAI International School is to help the child go through 360 degree development, experiential learning is an important part of its learning strategy. By replacing rote learning with experiential learning we support the development of 21st century skills like critical thinking and problem solving skills that are necessary for their future. By taking an experiential approach to learning, the students at SAI International School are given real world problems and assignments which develop a certain skill set in them. Through experiences, the school accelerates learning for the students as they learn in a faster and better way through practical encounters. For example, instead of only focusing on theoretical physics, the students focus on finding out the real life applications of those theories and this helps them understand the concepts of physics better. Experiential learning is seen in case of literature and languages too where the students learn the usage of languages by implementing and sharpening their oratory as well as writing skills.

Experiential learning not only shapes the skill set of a child but also the mindset of a child by affecting their convictions and beliefs. While values and beliefs cannot be taught theoretically, they can be imbibed experientially in a child. For example, the importance of charity and compassion is only understood when a child steps out of the school and observes the lesser privileged people who need charity to survive. The art of giving and empathy is imbibed in our students through various social welfare and community service and forms a crucial part of experiential learning. Experiential learning therefore is a part of every part of education in the school.

As the best school in Odisha and India, we believe in pioneering in the field of education and set new trends of education for others to follow. As a trendsetter, SAI International School is among the top CBSE schools of India that take an innovative approach to learning and continuously strengthen their teaching and learning strategy.