Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Experiential Learning

How we learn naturally

Human beings are always learning, whether we are inside a classroom or outside of it. We may not always be conscious of the process. Our daily experiences of learning may range from figuring out an online booking system to a new mobile phone, learning a new sport to making a little child laugh. What is common to all of these, is that they involve a deliberate and direct approach to learning something that is useful, and connected deeply to the world that we live in.
Classroom education has been moving away from the abstract, and rote based learning towards concepts connected to the real world. Teachers typically gave out information and students were expected to absorb it passively. Over time, we it has become evident that we cannot convince a student to learn something because it has been taught that way for many years and everyone before them learned it. Trio has incorporated experiential learning in the manner that it complements the offered curricula.  When a child is shown how, say, learning to grow vegetables or calculating their monthly expenses can have an impact on their life, they will value what they are learning much more.

What is experiential learning

The theory of experiential learning was proposed by David Kolbe, an American educational theorist. In his words, “Learning is the process whereby knowledge is created through the transformation of experience. Knowledge results from the combination of grasping experience and transforming it.” This form of learning is not always dependent on textbooks or formal instruction. The experience itself entails that the learner takes initiative to begin, direct and completely involve themselves in the learning process.

How experiential learning differs from hands on learning

The intention behind several school projects, workshops and trips are typically noble and are chosen to expose children to new things. However, an exercise like collecting different kinds of leaves or building a model of an aircraft does not automatically make it useful, if there is no self-reflection and assimilation involved. Take, for instance, an exercise to build a great camping tent. An educator can serve as an anchor and guide, by encouraging students to answer questions like, what is the purpose of doing this activity, what is your goal, what worked in the design, what did not work, what can we learn from other teams, what are the challenges and so on. Experiential learning effectively transforms the learner, by giving them a framework to approach any new situation with confidence and open-mindedness.

The cycle of learning

Kolb’s model gives a 4 stage cycle, that the experiential learning process typically entails. 
Abstract Conceptualisation:  Gathering information on how a system works and intellectual analysis of the situation. For example, learning to grow vegetables in the garden can involve, in this step, watching videos or reading up about different types of plants, weather, soil, tools etc.
Concrete Experience: Encountering a new situation that catches the learner’s attention and learning from it. In our vegetable growing example, this may involve working with an expert gardener, learning to prepare the soil, seeds, watering, pruning branches and more.
Active experimentation: Taking action towards accomplishing the set goal. In our example of growing vegetables, this may involve using the skills learned to setup a small garden and tending to it every day.
 Reflective Observation: Carefully observe the situation, and the available information. This is a critical step in the process where the learner deeply reflects on and synthesizes their learnings. 
One may reflect on what conditions kept the plants healthy and what conditions caused them to wilt.

Challenges to implementing experiential learning in the classroom

One of the challenges to implementing experiential learning, is the amount of preparation required on the part of educators. Adequate research must go into planning activities and just enough structure must be provided to students.

One of the most significant changes we have made at Trio, is creation of a long term plan, with all our educators on board, to incorporate experiential learning activities throughout the academic session or adding a component of experiential learning into existing activities.  Teachers are given sufficient support and resources to come up with activities that the children are curious about and find beneficial. The more interdisciplinary the nature of the activity, the better. Field trips or group activities are no longer concluded with a simple report, but with deeper self-reflection.

Benefits of implementing experiential learning

When students are involved fully in the process of learning, and identify how their work impacts them on a personal and meaningful way, they are more likely to internalise those learnings and pursue an even deeper inquiry into a topic. They gain skills that they can apply to a variety of situations both inside and outside the classroom. They become motivated and autonomous learners who can tackle any challenge that life throws at them.



Thursday, May 3, 2018

How to bring up a confident child

What is the one thing that can help your child succeed?

Without a doubt – if there is one thing that can ensure success – it is confidence.

Without confidence you cannot do anything. With confidence you can conquer the world
But where does confidence come from?

Confidence cannot be pasted on to a child by constantly telling her/him “You are amazing”.

A child who knows he/she is not worthy of the praise being heaped on by his/her parents – begins to feel hollow and becomes pompous and arrogant.

Confidence emerges out of achievements. A child becomes confident by pushing boundaries and proving his/her ability to achieve by overcoming challenges.

Our words and actions as parents – have a huge role in developing our children’s confidence.

Here are 10 things you can do to build your child’s confidence

1.      Love your child unconditionally

Of course we love our children. But we must tell them that we love them every day. We must let them know that we love them for who they are and not what they achieve. When a child knows that he/she will be loved regardless of how he/she performs – it gives the child the confidence to attempt new things and keep trying until he/she succeeds.

2.      Stop comparing – start celebrating

Every child is different. Every child succeeds at different things and every child succeeds differently. Celebrate your child’s successes without comparing him/her to others.

3.      Teach your child that happiness is in the small things

Teach your child to be curious – to delight in everyday things – to be open to changes and differences. The journey towards success is stressful if you don’t love every little thing about your life. And it can be an exciting enjoyable ride if you learn to love and enjoy the small things in life.

4.      Instil exploration and adventure
Confidence starts with courage. Build courage in your child by constantly encouraging your child to push boundaries and explore

5.      Teach your child to be grateful
A child who tries to succeed – will invariably fail several times before he succeeds. These failures can be very disappointing unless children have been taught to be grateful for everything – including the opportunity and ability to try.

6.       Have firm family rules

Being able to say no to peer pressure is an extremely important part of success. And those children who have watched their parents firmly say no to them when the family rules demanded a “no”, will be able to say no with much greater ease than others.

7.      Encourage sports and other physical activities

A confident mind can only live in a fit body and sports enhances physical fitness. Sports also teaches children how to set goals and improve and achieve them. Sports also teaches teamwork and the ability to gracefully handle and overcome defeat.

8.      Support your child’s passion

Respect and encourage your child's interests—even if they don't interest you. Every child will excel at a different thing. And when your child excels at something it will build his/her confidence. Don’t dismiss your child’s interests as useless or trivial and don’t ridicule him/her when he/she fails. Guide your child’s efforts. Teach your child how to set realistic incremental goals. Help your child make a plan to reach the goal. And constantly encourage and support your child’s effort and resilience

9.      Teach your child to cope with both praise and criticism

Children look at themselves through our eyes – and so it is extremely important to praise children. But it is important to be realistic when you praise. Always praise the effort, but don't gush unrealistically over the results. To succeed – children must be able to accept negative feedback and constructive criticism without getting crushed.

10.  Teach your child how to make friends

In the end – all of us estimate ourselves based on how well we are liked by others. When a child knows that he/she is a likeable person – when a child knows that he/she can easily find friends in an new setting – it builds his/her confidence. Help your child to be kind and empathetic so that others like her. But teach him/her also how to be self-assertive and maintain an inner core of self-belief.

To bring up a confident child – our aim should be – to build a solid wall of confidence that cannot be knocked down by the blows of failure. This wall must be built – one brick at a time – every time we interact with our child.


Dr Debmita Dutta MBBS.MD

Dr Debmita Dutta is a practising doctor, a Parenting consultant and the founder of the website www.whatparentsask.com ( https://whatparentsask.com/ )  a video based website that provides expert answers to parenting questions. She is based in Bangalore and conducts Parenting workshops and prenatal classes for pregnant parents in addition to her medical practice. She believes that parenting stress can be relieved significantly when parents are well informed about their children’s growing brains and bodies.