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what is Experiential Learning?

“Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom.”
 – Viktor Frankl

Experiential learning is a powerful way to help people identify changes required to their skills, attitudes and behaviors, and then implement those changes for enhancing life skills and ability to handle adversity and opportunity alike.

Experiential learning (EL) is, quite simply, learning by doing.

We have all learned to walk or talk, not by being shown or told, but by practicing and refining our experiences.

EL suggests that ideas are not fixed; rather, they form and re-form through experience. Experience intervenes and because this is unique each time, so too are the resulting ideas.

As the name suggests, experiential learning is the process of learning through experience.  Experiential learning theory was initially proposed by psychologist David Kolb who emphasised how experiences influence the learning process. Kolb defined experiential learning as “the process whereby knowledge is created through the transformation of experience. Knowledge results from the combinations of grasping and transforming the experience.”  

In his experiential learning theory, Kolb described two different ways of grasping experience:

  1. Concrete Experience
  2. Abstract Conceptualisation

He also identified two ways of transforming experience:

  1. Reflective Observation
  2. Active or reflective experimentation

According to Kolb, concrete experience provides information that serves as a basis for reflection. From reflection, we assimilate the information we gathered through a concrete experience and develop new theories about the world which we then actively or reflectively experiment with.  Kolb also noted that people who are considered “watchers” prefer reflective observation, while those who are “doers” are more likely to engage in active experimentation.

Experiential learning is becoming far more common in schools and educational institutes around the world. For example, Think Global School is a four-year travelling high school that holds classes in a new country each term. Students can engage in experiential learning through activities such as travel to industrial centers , rural villages, draught prone areas, refugee camps,  drug de addiction centers, juvenile correction homes and of course slums and our bordering area specials.