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Putting Experiential Learning To Work

August 7, 2013

What is experiential learning“I hear and I forget.  I see and I understand.  I do and I remember.”

Though Confucius spoke those words long ago, they remain relevant, today.

We’re approaching the beginning of the new school year for children and adults who’ve returned to school or who are continuing through the advance degree process.  But even if you’re not in school, this time of year always feels like a good time to refocus, and learning is that life-long endeavor that doesn’t only happen in a classroom.

We all serve in some way as leaders, parents, teachers, mentors, trainers and coaches to someone in our lives.  When you’re helping others learn, whether in a formal classroom setting, on the job, in the kitchen or on the court, structure the experience so that the participants are actively involved – mind, body and emotions.

Adults and children learn faster and remember more the moment they move from passive observer to active participant – from listening and observing to direct, hands-on experience.  Explaining a new process or written instructions aren’t likely to work as well as walking someone through the process.  You’ll allow them to succeed or fail in the actual setting while being able to questions along the way.  This “learner centric” style also addresses the often-ignore differences in how individuals retain information.

For the majority of learners – especially adults, first-hand interaction and experimentation with whatever is being taught facilitates deeper understanding of how to perform the task and enables them to apply their learnings and insights to similar situations in the future.

There are many resources for this non-traditional but highly effective approach to learning, starting with this businessballs.com article that offers easy to grasp definitions, concepts and key principals to setting up experiential learning opportunities.

Experience is a powerful teacher.  When we do, we remember.

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