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Education industry 2017-09-07

Authentic learning experiences leave an everlasting footprint

It is now time that ‘learning-by-doing’ became the more preferred way of teaching

By Uttara.J. Malhotra Feature writer

The CBSE Board has been making attempts to move away from dependency on rote learning and inculcating more application-based learning; but needs more intrinsic absorption into mainstream Indian schooling system.

Learning-by-doing is generally considered the most effective way to learn; and this not so new method of learning has been much facilitated by the Internet. Today, the Internet provides its users a variety of communication channels with the advantage of visualization and simulation, making it possible today, to offer students great and unique authentic learning experiences. These can range from experimentation to real-world problem solving. The Authentic Learning Experience strategy encourages children to deal with ‘real-world problems mimicking the work of professionals’. Thus, the activity entails children getting involved in findings beyond the classroom.

Advantages
The biggest advantage of this kind of strategy of learning is that it creates an atmosphere of open-ended inquiry, encouraging thinking and meta-cognition development. When children learn the spirit of exploration and reasoning, from the nascent schooling years, they grow into becoming excellent problem solvers, a skill that has come to be known as the most important requisite to be employable in near future. Application of knowledge has taken precedence over knowledge itself.

The quality of social learning and interaction is also stimulated in the process. This is another important learning milestone for children. Let us accept that everyone cannot lead; you have to be a good team player many times. This is a social quality that early school years must inculcate in children. Parents should not brainwash children in becoming merely leaders, they also need required skills to put things together and create value through collective intelligence. Another huge advantage in using the Learning-By-Doing strategy with children is that topics in logical and analytical subjects become lifelong learning.

Additionally, Authentic Learning is considered to be ‘a fertile setting for any learning pursuit where it can be anchored in any topic, subject or adopted to any medium; whether its creating an application, a radio program, music video, business initiative, community service or robotics’ Authentic Learning Practices are genuinely accommodating. All in all, children are the custodians of their own work and develop a sense of confidence and pride in directly applying their skills to concertizing theoretical concepts.

India Today
Looking at the sudden demand of educators in this field of teaching; thanks to the Education Sector moving towards Authentic Learning aka Experiential Learning, a not for profit organization called Educators Collective of Bangalore are already doing their bit by building a community of experiential educators in India.

Few schools have successfully adopted this strategy; something that is already giving these children an edge over other learners. Incorporating Mahatma Gandhi's vision of 'Nai Talim' and initiating an alternative educational experience is Anand Niketan School at Sewagram, Wardha. The usual school bell, table-chair, thick textbook and regular written exam are not to be found. Classrooms are colourful, with floor-seating arrangement to give students free space for indoor activities. "There is no competition here. Learning takes place at individual level, thus giving every child the freedom to learn in his/her own pace," shares Sushama Sharma, director and principal of the school with the media. The real classroom is the real and closest environment to the students. So, while cultivating a variety of crops in their respective portions of land, children will learn mathematical concepts; or while doing pottery, students learn about radius and circumference. While spinning cotton, they learn about rotation and friction.

Some other popular examples of schools that have gone back to this British styled learning strategy includes Peepul Grove School (Andhra Pradesh), Aarambh- Rudolph Steiner School (Delhi), Mirambika Free Progress School (Delhi), River House Academy (Goa), Shikshantar (Gurugram, Haryana), Abheek (Karnataka) and Aksharnandan School (Maharashtra) to name a few. 

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