Experiential education seeks to increase student motivation through active hands-on engagement that is relevant to the student, personally challenging and self-guided, includes a vision of responsibility for one’s self and others, and provides opportunities for reflection on what is learned.
This could mean theme-based outdoor education in which each student becomes an expert on a chosen topic of natural science. Or it could be community service projects designed to connect students to their social group, their community, and their world.
For Senior School students, this could include building projects in the developing world or visits to local seniors’ homes. For Elementary School students, it could consist of field trips to learn more about their city.
The goal should be service learning, rather than simply community service. The program aims to not only teach civic responsibility and promote a sense of community but to enrich a student’s learning experience. Service needs to be an exchange, a reciprocal relationship, and engagement in service allows students to learn about themselves and develop real-life skills.
Furthermore, these activities have to be undertaken for their own reward, and not merely to fill an academic requirement. Students start by building their CVs and, ultimately, find their passion.
Leadership activities are also a type of experiential learning. At Selwyn House, Senior School students are increasingly asked to take responsibilities for planning events like their Winter Carnival. Errors are part of the process and allow for welcome teaching opportunities.