Experiential Learning Recognition
by Nattalia Kilborn
Experiential learning used to be a foreign concept to me. I started to understand it when I asked the students of my General Educational Development class to write an essay in order to present and support their opinion on where and when education occurred: "Does it take place only at school or is it a life long activity?" Most of them opted for the later alternative. They all felt that the concept of who they were, what they did, and most of what they knew had come from the greatest of teachers, namely, life.
We all learn from our experiences. A child who touches something hot learns to avoid hot objects. We learn about friendships by having friends and about family life by being in a family. Reading about love and relationships is not the same as experiencing love and relationships and no one would want to ride an airplane when the pilot has only read a book on how to fly it.
Experiential learning has longer history than theoretical learning. It was the only mode of learning in use until the invention of schools. Its concept is broader than that of classroom learning as it occurs in all human settings: from school to workplace, in personal relationships and through life events. It encompasses all life stages: childhood, adolescence, middle age and old age.
Learning from experience is the process whereby human development occurs (1). Experiential learning theory assumes that ideas are not fixed and immutable elements of thought but that they are formed and re-formed through experience. Learning can be described as a process whereby concepts are derived from and continuously modified by experience.