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 students, this could include building projects in the developing world, or visits to local seniors’ homes. For Elementary students it could consist of field trips to learn more about their city.
The goal should be service learning, rather than simply community service. Not only to 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. It’s all about helping students learn about themselves and develop real-life skills from experience.
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 somewhere along the line they catch on and 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. If things don’t go as planned, that, too, is a lesson learned. It doesn’t have to be perfect. That’s all part of the experience.
What are our kids doing now to make the world a better place, and what are they learning about themselves while doing it?