Experiential Learning

I started watching TedTalks again today, and this is one of the video’s I first watched. I think the idea behind it is brilliant.



Really, she is saying things that some of the better teachers I’ve been lucky to have stated all along – learning by doing is the most effective.

I remember my 10th grade chemistry teacher, Mr. Arnold. He had every one of his students copy a quote into their lab books, “Knowledge isn’t knowing the answer, it is knowing how to find the answer.” Perhaps I took this a little too literally in school, but I really don’t know a lot of students, particularly from my generation, that haven’t at one point or anther complained about being forced to memorize loads of data that they are unlikely to use. It pained me through every single math class that I had to memorize the equations – in life they would most definitely be readily available – when I felt that the importance was knowing how to use the information.

I remember several teachers that gave us projects to work on. Projects are fun, and learning is a bi-product. In college, I had a teacher for entrepreneurial business, or some title like that. Honestly, I couldn’t tell you his name if I were asked (names are my weak point, but I could describe him if need be). But our class assignment was to write a business plan for something you were actually interested in starting. I chose to write one for an online clothing store, that I am still interested in starting. What it taught me was everything necessary to start a business, everything that I needed to know or know someone who knew the subject. It gave me the opportunity to see what skills I needed to work on to make that a probability.
I had another class that was an exit requirement; again cant remember the teachers name or what the class was called -maybe it was strategic management, but I remember our project. It was probably one of the coolest classes I had been able to take because it was comprised of any business major. Our job was to form a company (8 per class) that would compete in an industry with a widget. Or widget could be adjusted by size or by speed in any combination. We started off on the wrong foot – fell way behind the other “companies” in the class, and spent the majority of our project playing catch up. But that initial set-back really allowed me to learn about how to effectively use strategy.

Really, I agree with the method. Most major learning companies (companies that provide tools or games for learning). Look at all the toys for little kids that are developed solely around interaction! Then again, look at Rosetta Stone. The entire methodology for their language system is interaction with the language – and they are one of the most successful systems of self teaching language I know of.

But my company as well bases it’s training on learning through experience. Often people will start in a company and be given a manual and that is the training. Or they will go through an orientation and by the end of a few days, be expected to be comfortable with whatever without having ever put it to practice. What we do is take someone directly to the field – on their first day, someone is able to start trying with someone there to jump in if they get stuck. And because of this, we have one of the most effective and successful programs for teaching sales in the country.

Anyway, I just wanted to share this video, and add a couple of examples from my own perspective, because I know that it’s totally essential to anyone studying how to improve our education. lol

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