This week in ECS 210, we were asked to find a quote that is related to education. I chose the quote “Give the pupils something to do, not something to learn; and the doing is of such a nature as to demand thinking; learning naturally results” from John Dewey.
We discussed John Dewey, along with a lot of other education theorists in class today, but John Dewey stuck out to me. One aspect of his approach to education is that students should learn through doing (experiential learning).
The above quote can be quite wordy, but the way that I understand it is that if teachers allow students to experience their learning, through hands on activities, practice problems, labs, etc. then they will get a better understanding of the topic than what they would if a teacher just lectured about a topic and moved on.
This statement can be applied to many classrooms in schools. There are ways for teachers to implement hands on, active learning activities for all subjects. For example, instead of students listening to a teacher talk about a science experiment, students can actually do the experiment or one that is modified to suit the level that the students are at. Experiential learning can be very beneficial for many students because they will be able to work through and learn about a topic through their own experience. Their own questions will be formed and they will likely get a deeper understanding of the topic since they are fully engaged with it.
Experiential learning is important, but it is not always possible in every classroom. For example, not every school has the funding for science equipment to make science experiments a possibility. Experiential learning is important, but often students need background knowledge before they can proceed to trying to do something that relates to the topic. Teachers still will need to teach students in a more formal sense about the topic, even briefly, and then let them explore the topic through some sort of practice or experience.
As a teacher, this quote challenges me to encourage activities and lots of interaction between students and a topic. I cannot simply teach students about a math formula and expect them to learn it just after stating it. Students must DO some practice problems to learn how to use the formula to solve the problem.
As a student, I know that I benefit from hands on activities and practice problems. This quote also allows me to see the method to the madness or homework. Homework gives me an opportunity to engage with a topic at my own pace at home. Despite how much I sometimes dislike homework, I know that by doing it I am learning the topic.
Curriculum, including the Saskatchewan Curriculum, includes outcomes that indicate what the government deems important for students to learn. In the math curriculum, many of the outcomes are a student will “demonstrate” their knowledge about how to solve something in math. Students must be able to practice trying to solve equations in order to show that they know how to do it on an assessment, whatever that assessment may be.
Experiential learning is important to incorporate into any subject, not just the math and science subjects. Students will likely be able to retain more knowledge and gain a deeper understanding about a topic when they are able to learn through doing the activity.
What are your thought on experiential learning? Leave a comment on your opinion on this quote!
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