Tell me and I will forget,
Teach me and I may remember,
Involve me and I learn. -Benjamin Franklin
What is experiential learning?
Experiential learning is the process of making connections between knowledge and experiences.
It is learning by doing.
It is hands-on instead of hands-off.
It is memorable.
It is something people, especially children, are striving for.
Teachers are able to use experiential learning during the planning of the day to day lessons. Instead of doing basic book work, and work sheets, students can experience what they are learning first hand. For example, planting a real plant or garden, using math in real life situations, learning about and identifying trees in their surroundings, etc. Hands on learning is an important aspect of these fruitful experiences. When students are able to learn through hands on learning and these experiences they develop a sense of self-discovery, self-empowerment, and reflection.
Experiential learning is interdisciplinary, offering students cross curricular opportunities and allowing to make real world connections.
What does experiential learning look like in our community?
Experiential learning already exists in our community. At the high school, Mount Allison University, Renaissance Sackville, Sackville Community Gardens... we can see many examples of experiential learning.
Tantramar Wetlands Center is a place where students and community members come together to learn about and work in our wetlands. Each year students of all ages are able to put their knowledge to the test as they experience "critter dipping", duck tagging, identifying tracks and much more. Students from Tantramar Regional High School act as teachers and mentors to the younger groups who attend the wetland programs. These older students learn a great amount while teaching and demonstrating the variety of activities throughout the school year. The students who are participating are learning while having fun during hands-on games and activities. These are the kinds of experiences that are memorable and stick with students.
Community Gardens is another opportunity for experiential learning in Sackville. The garden is available for anyone in the community to develop their own plot and learn how to garden. There are people around to assist if needed but it is mostly about exploration and learning how to grow your own food. The community gardens also partners with many other organization and schools to promote and develop gardening and food sustainability. Teachers can use the community garden as a great resource when learning about plant growth, community, and food sustainability. It helps students apply their knowledge to real world experiences. Opportunities such as these instill passion and a love of learning in children and will stay with them for a lifetime.
The future for Experiential Learning
Students are looking for more hands-on learning and an education that will prepare them for the real world. The education systems needs to implement more experiential learning into the curriculum in both elementary, secondary and post-secondary institutions. The New Brunswick Government is now seeing the need for experiential learning and is working towards the development of hands-on and practical learning experiences. The president of UNB says, as released in a recent government article, that
experiential education opportunities are good for students, who acquire experience working in professional settings, good for employers, who get a close look at potential future employees, and good for universities, as feedback from students and employers allows us to improve in response. -Eddy Campbell
Sackville is great place to start implementing more experiential learning. It is one of the goals of the Sackville Schools 2020 working group to develop more experiential learning opportunities in our schools and community.