Why kids need experiences

 

Both my daughters had swimming galas this week. On Saturday morning, guess what they were playing… yep, swimming galas.

This is a pattern in my children’s lives. When they have real experiences, those experiences become part of their play, part of their language and part of their landscape. After a trip to the doctor, they play doctors for weeks. After a train journey, they build trains out of dining chairs. After a meal in a fancy restaurant, they create fancy restaurants and write menus and act like chefs.

Pretty obvious really.

But, it does make me think about schools and how much learning comes as a result of real experiences. As a teacher, the most powerful learning opportunities always came from times when I was able to provide them with real experiences. Unfortunately, the nature of schools often means that learning is divorced from real experience. We counteract that by trying our best to recreate the real when we can. We try our best by using the virtual resources that the Internet gives us. But, nothing can or should replace the real experiences that are available by going to real places, speaking to real people or making real emotional connections.

When those things happen, learning is inevitable.

As if by coincidence, I came across this passage in the book I’m reading at the moment (“Night Train to Lisbon” by Pascal Mercier):

“Thus it was 11,532 times that I clenched my teeth and went back into the gloomy building from the schoolyard instead of following my imagination, which sent me through the school gate and out to the port, to a ship’s rail, where I would then lick the salt from my lips.”

Perhaps an education based on real experiences would mean he wouldn’t have to make that choice.

 

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One comment

  1. kathmurdoch

    HI Sam

    Couldn’t agree more. When planning for inquiry journeys with teachers I always ask – can this be resourced by real people/places/experiences? Can we find out by going somewhere that activates our senses? If we can’t – we really need to think carefully about the worth of the inquiry – especially in the primary years. These shared experiences lend themselves perfectly to ‘sorting out’ or processing in a myriad of ways as you see, every day, in your own children. Lovely reminder – thanks.

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