Is Experiential learning the way to go?
We have a riddle for you.
When rays of light pass through a convex lens, the image is inverted. The lens of the eye is also a convex lens. Why then doesn’t the world appear inverted to us?
We conducted a few do-it-yourself sessions with students where they built their own projector using a cardboard box, a magnifying glass, a ruler, some double-sided tape and their mobile phone.
The teacher took them through all the steps. They made a cardboard stand on which their phone could rest, cut a magnifying glass-shaped hole on one side of the box and finally placed their phone inside the box to get an image on the wall (okay, we skipped a few steps while writing this article).
If getting students to switch on their video in an online class is a problem, we didn’t encounter it! A brother and sister who attended the session together competed with each other and when they were done, they showed what they made with a sense of pride.
Finally, students played a video on their phone and saw the projection on the wall. The first student who got the image on the wall exclaimed with wonder, “Oh now I get what’s happening!” A student then asked “Why is the image inverted?”
They were curious to know what had happened. So when the teacher explained how a convex lens works and why the world doesn’t appear inverted to us (the image on the retina is inverted, but the brain inverts it again), the students were all ears. They wanted to know because they had built something and wanted to know what had happened. And our guess is that they will remember what they learnt for life!
When we say experiential learning or active learning, this is exactly what we mean. But we can’t take the credit for teaching children this way. This method of teaching has been around forever.
Consider the time you learnt to drive a car. You didn’t read a book. You sat on the driver’s seat and you did it. Or the time you learnt to cook. It wasn’t by watching a video. It was by stepping into the kitchen, making a few mistakes, burning your hand or burning the food and figuring out the right way to do it.