“Learning is experience. Everything else is just information.” – Albert Einstein
As the Association for Experiential Education described, “experiential education is a philosophy that informs many methodologies in which educators purposefully engage with learners in direct experience and focused reflection in order to increase knowledge, develop skills, clarify values, and develop people’s capacity to contribute to their communities. Experiential educators include teachers, camp counselors, corporate team builders, therapists, challenge course practitioners, environmental educators, guides, instructors, coaches, mental health professionals . . . and the list goes on.” (http://www.aee.org/what-is-ee)
Here we want to explore experiential education in higher education setting. When I read about experiential education, a lot of practices have been done in K-12 education or summer camps, however, I believe experiential education is more important in higher education setting. Here are the two reasons.
First, “experiential learning occurs when carefully chosen experiences are supported by reflection, critical analysis and synthesis.” (http://www.aee.org/what-is-ee) In my opinion, reflection, critical analysis and synthesis are s high level of thinking after someone has more self-awareness. Students in colleges are more capable of having self-awareness and critical analysis of the situation they experience in the learning process, which make experiential learning more practical and meaningful in higher education setting.
Second, “throughout the experiential learning process, the learner is actively engaged in posing questions, investigating, experimenting, being curious, solving problems, assuming responsibility, being creative, and constructing meaning.” (http://www.aee.org/what-is-ee) Bringing up questions, self exploration, solving problems are the foundation of higher education, which build up the whole learning process. Through colleges, the most important ability wanted to be picked up by students is to find questions, investigate, and solve problems in learning and researching. So experiential learning should be emphasized in higher education setting.
“As college faculty recognize a need to provide experiential learning opportunities into their courses and programs to make learning more relevant for their students, more and more literature is emerging, spanning the disciplines from the social-sciences programs to the arts and humanities. Hence, these programs exist across the broad spectrum of higher education today including English literature, history, psychology, communications, etc.” (http://www.ericdigests.org/1997-4/higher.htm) Those are the programs where we can find components of experiential education. I am hoping that design major, like architecture, landscape architecture, interior design and so on, can use more experiential education since they have higher self-awareness and exploration components. Overall, we need to have more experiential education in higher education setting.