Is the next generation adequately equipped to become engaged members of society? Will the knowledge we impart be absorbed by the most distracted generation in history? Read on to discover how experiential education may be the key to our students’ future.
What is Experiential Education? Experiential education (EE) is a pedagogy that incorporates direct experience in the learning environment. This leads to learning and growth when experiences and challenges are followed by application and reflection. To learn more, check out the Association for Experiential Education (AEE).
5 Reasons Why Experiential Education Is Important
Experiential education is crucial in developing students as a whole person and preparing them for life outside the classroom. Here are 5 ways experiential education better equips our youth to face the challenges of tomorrow:
- Increases Connections – Students learn to communicate with each other and adults in new ways. As they have new experiences, they learn new and more efficient ways of communicating to learn and solve problems.
- Encourages Teamwork – Hands-on learning often teaches teamwork and accountability to achieve common goals and apply learning to solve problems.
- Utilizes Kinesthetic Learning – Today’s students are not being prepared for the realities of the real world. While there are many learning styles, kinesthetic learning (learning through physical activity) is especially important in equipping students for life after graduation.
- Teaches Stewardship and Responsibility – Progressive, experiential, and outdoor education all lend great gravitas to environmental stewardship and responsibility. From education about our ecosystem to application of new skills, youth learn to take responsibility for themselves and others, while taking care of the world we live in.
- Applies Problem Solving Skills – Experiential programming teaches new skills and ideas, while using application and reflection to help students grow as engaged members of the global society. As the future of that society, they will be equipped with the ability to apply their knowledge to real-world challenges.
How To Effect Positive Change Through Purposeful Programming
Experiential education programs become ineffective when they fail to be engaging and comprehensive. It is important to engage students as active participants in their own learning.
Additionally, it is important to present the big picture (the WHY), explaining the role each lesson or challenge plays in the grander scheme. This is why sustained, progressive learning on a regular basis is an effective way to impact students. By implementing thoughtful, long-term programming, students are able to stay engaged as they build upon each new skill and experience.
Below are 7 key ways to engage and impact youth:
- Promote progressive, sequential learning by laying a foundation, developing key skills, and applying knowledge.
- Involve students in the learning by listening to the issues that are important to them.
- Demonstrate how each lesson is important by applying knowledge to real challenges.
- Create positive growth by teaching environmental stewardship and social responsibility.
- Provide opportunities for service by considering cultural and geographic relevance when planning experiences.
- Foster positive relationships by exploring new perspectives and modeling empathy, authenticity, and integrity.
- Develop life skills by encouraging collaboration with others to overcome personal and group obstacles.
The Positive Adventures Team Builder’s Bag is built around a curriculum that is not only easy to use, but is also engaging for both students and staff. With over 150 collaborative activities, your students will establish interpersonal skills, leadership, and conflict resolution tactics that will serve them for the rest of their lives.
The Progressive Education Movement
Experiential education is an educational philosophy that has greatly influenced the Progressive Education Movement, which believes that the purpose of education should transcend preparation for college or career. Progressive educators support student development as individuals, as active learners within a school community, and as engaged citizens in the broader world.
Some tenets of both progressive and experiential education include:
- Engaging students as active participants inside the classroom and in their communities. What community issues are important to your students, and how can they make a positive difference?
- Developing a strong sense of community and environmental stewardship. Promote community and team building, as well as opportunities for service and stewardship.
- Promoting diversity, equity, and justice. Expose youth to new challenges and learning methods that give them a deeper wealth of experience while learning to work together with people from diverse backgrounds.
- Preparing youth to be engaged members of a global society. As students develop social skills, critical thinking, applied learning, and depth of experience, they become better prepared to be leaders in tomorrow’s world.
The 3 Stages of Progressive Programming
Here at Positive Adventures, progressive (or sequential) programming helps students engage, leading to a comprehensive understanding of the subject matter. Students who are regularly exposed to learning on an ascending scale are significantly more likely to apply those lessons to everyday life.
They say you must “learn to walk before you can run,” and creating programs that work to develop students into effective leaders in their communities requires much care and consideration. There are 3 stages of progressive programming within experiential and outdoor education:
#1: On-Campus Adventure Learning Programs. This is a time for introducing new skills and knowledge, promoting environmental stewardship, and drawing the connection between educational concepts and real-world application. After school enrichment programs, 1-day, or multi-week programs can be great ways to engage and positively impact our youth, while laying the groundwork for more concrete learning.
#2: Off-Site Experiential & Adventure Education Programs. Building positive relationships and developing life skills happens best in an exciting new environment. Learning new skills while collaborating to deal with challenges expands concrete knowledge and increases social aptitude. Off-site learning also promotes equitable access to the benefits of nature. This encourages youth to be champions of conservation and equity so that future generations can have access to the earth’s beauty.
#3: Overnight Outdoor Education Programs
- Encourages application of knowledge and training
- Promotes leadership and positive relationships
- Improves social interaction and communication
- Encourages application of creative problem-solving skills
- Builds life skills while teaching about the environment and conservation
- Develops physical, intellectual, and social skills through engagement with nature
- Provides a platform for intentional conversations about character
- Allows youth to explore and develop new ways of thinking and behaving
Learn more about Positive Adventures overnight outdoor education programs here.
Our curriculum is more than just field games and fun; we provide activity-based learning and experiential challenges that develop cultural literacy, communication, and mindfulness while preparing youth for life in the “real world” and equipping them with experiential and social capital.
To create a custom program for your students and faculty, or to just to pick our brains, connect with us here.