Experience and Learning
- The chapter starts out with Aarons versus Gloria’s learning experience they had. The workshops were the same topics but shared by different teachers and methods. Why was one more successful than the other? That’s simple; it was the ability of engagement and expressing experiences with other people in the room that brought the workshop to life. Aaron’s experience was good while Gloria said it was a waste of time. (Food for thought). The first story continues with a backup explanation of which different dimensions to experiential learning Fenwick proposes (2003).
- Reflecting on concrete experience
- Participating in a community of practice (situative theory of learning)
- Getting in touch with unconscious fears and desires (roots)
- Resisting dominant social norms of experience
- Exploring ecological relationships between cognition and environment
- People have concrete experiences; they reflect on them and construct new knowledge as a result of these reflections. This helps the meaning making come to life out of the prior experience.
- We must battle through psychic conflicts to learn. This just means the battle is in our minds.
- There is a battle between the wanting to learn and the having to learn.
- The adult learner’s living textbook is based on his or her experience and it has the highest value in that adult’s education.
Learning from Life’s Experiences
- John Dewey (1938) wrote Experience and Education–
- “All genuine education comes about through experience; this does not mean that all experiences are genuinely or equally educative. It is a proven fact that some experiences mis-educate, distorting growth which is in turn narrows the field of further experience ” (p. 13)
- “Every experience is a moving force. Its value can be judged only on the ground of where by it moves towards and into” (p. 31)
- Two mayor principals of continuity and interaction are:
- The principal of the continuity of experience both picks up something from those that have gone before and modifies in some way the quality of those that come after.
- The principal of interaction states that an experience is always what it is because of the transaction taking place between an individual and what, at that time, constitutes as their environment.
Models of Experiential Learning p 163-169
- Kolb (1984) & Jarvis (1987)- constructivist paradigm theories
- Boud & Walker (1991), Usher, Bryant and Johnson (1997) – situative paradigm theories
- Fenwick (2003) – PCC paradigm approaches (seen above within the E & L section)
This dynamic 20 minute session by Sir Ken Robinson will blow your mind! Take some notes and bring to class for discussion.
Educator’s role and purposes
Educator’s purpose, roles and learning designs for experiential learning differ depending on the lens through which they view experiential learning.
- Constructivists lens – foster critical reflection on experience and challenge learner’s assumptions while validating personally constructed knowledge. Educators serve as facilitators of reflection and encourage learners to discuss and reflect on concrete experiences in a trusting, open environment. They can also play the role of a catalyst with role-play and scenario problem solving. Lastly they are coaches and mentors.
- Situative lens – foster the learner to get involved in a community of practice. The educator arranges real situations in which the learners participate. The educators role is in providing assistance to enable confident action in situations where confident competence is lacking. This can be found in service learning activities such as a non-profit organization or church.
- Psychoanalytical lens – facilitate the analysis of learners psychic (mind) conflicts that may impede learning. They do this by encouraging students to pay attention to their dreams, behavior towards something, and odd images that may arise in their minds. Some of these things can trigger the unconscious area that blocks our learning process. Students must be taught how to resist and bring to the light unconscious feelings associated with the material. Here is where we help our family, friends, the member of our church, and community to heal.
- Critical-cultural lens – facilitate learners to see the power of relationships in their lives. Educators engage to help the oppressed, victims understand their true role in life, which is one of a Creator’s role. They help people identify general causes and outcomes of these issues. They encourage people to critically analyze their situations and work towards a solution. This type of teaching is used in rehabilitation ministries where the person may be battered, substance abuser, and homeless, facing depression or just need to heal from deeper wounds than the average person.
- Complexity theory lens – do not seek to change the person through organization but seek to open spaces for the system to experiment with change itself. To seek change within complex systems. This can apply to being the salt and the change agent in our society where marriages are being redefined and the foundations of this very country are being endangered by those that will not accept guardrails even for the sake of their own safety.
Methods Associated with Reflective and Situative Paradigms
- Reflective Practice
- Situated Cognition
- Cognitive Apprenticeships
- Anchored Instruction
(View Table 7.1)
Resources for “Reflective Practice” for you as a future mentor can be found here:
An Appraisal of Experiential Learning
Differing in philosophical viewpoints provide several critiques of experiential learning. This includes the thought that people can have more than one way of learning within themselves. Every lens/perspective seen in this chapter has their own defined boundaries of traits. Therefore experiential learning can occur within a variety of situations.
There are also debates about the content, design, and role of the educator in experiential learning. Scholars debate that experiential learning in the workplace may worsen social problems. This is due to the benefit being channeled more towards the organization’s profits than to personal growth and reflection during that learning process. Another debate is that in some cases, this type of learning can become a tool to control people’s lives. Knowing has become categories which can create bias. (segregation) On the other hand, although experiential learning is thought to be oppressive in some cases, it is still necessary in order to correct bad practices, habits and disruptive behaviors.
Summary – p 184
Although exploring the role of experience in learning has a long history, we can continue to discover more about the connections between learning and experience and how to assist adults in formal and non-formal settings to capture the richness of learning from experience.
Taking it to the Word
- If you were teaching within the church, according to the calling God has placed in your life, what ministry would you think you’d be good in?
- What lens would you use to target your audience?
- Reflect on all the theories discussed. Which one do you think is used mostly in sermons and explain why?
- Aaron’s example in the beginning of the chapter gives us an idea that we as educators must engage our audience for the benefit of all involved in the training. How do you propose to maintain your audience when teaching/training in a small group/Sunday School/ discipleship class?
- How would you get their feedback, assess or even know they are understanding the concepts? Explain the outcomes to your answer.