The first question I am often asked by people who are hearing the term for the first time is “What is Experiential Education”?
For a long time, I took that really seriously and launched into an explanation that seemed to take forever! After a while I would see their eyes glaze, which was an indication to me that I said a lot without meaning much.
So I began an era of exploration. The rule for myself was – if I cant say it in 4 sentences, I don’t know it well enough yet! That became really fun for me. So whatever I say now in answer to that question is what’s true for me today. Take whatever works for you, and let go of the rest.
Its about helping people learn
Its about Doing things and learning from them
Its about talking about things
Its about discovering oneself in a group setting
Its about discovering about others
Its about learning lessons for life through experience
Its about consciously putting what you learn, into practice
Its about thinking, planning, deciding and doing, and then practicing it all over again
Its about making learning fun; OR having fun while learning
Its about Action, Reflection and Application
For those who are still dissatisfied with this, here is how AEE (Association for Experiential Education) defines it today (mind you, they edit it often enough!).
“Experiential education is a philosophy that informs many methodologies in which educators purposefully engage with learners in direct experience and focused reflection in order to increase knowledge, develop skills, clarify values, and develop people’s capacity to contribute to their communities … (for more, go to www.aee.org).
I could go on, but I have already crossed the 4 sentences! So the last line in answer to that question is someone else’s.
“Of all things that might be true about experiential education the one thing that is unassailably true is that you cant find out by defining it.” John Huie.
Treat this as an invitation to discover what it is, and make it yours by being introduced to the philosophy, history, practice and principles of experiential education.