On Experiential Education
Since school is back in full swing at Val in Real Life HQ, I’m diving into experiential education today. Although, I use the terms “school” and “full swing” loosely because when your approach to expanding your children’s knowledge is experiential education, your entire life is a learning experience. And while that is actually true for all of us, kids and adults alike, obviously it’s something we pursue with purposeful intent here.
For us it’s always difficult to define a beginning and end to our school years. It really becomes simply a calendar issue for reporting-to-the-state purposes so officially we have rung in the new educational year. In reality we’re pretty much doing something educational year-round…and not just during designated “school” hours…and not along a rigid curriculum. This gives us a less-intense but more constant rhythm to our year as opposed to a boom-and-bust cycle.
We tend phase between unschooling, roadschooling, and the slightly-more-formal homeschooling as necessary to fit our needs. So yes, we have a couple of textbooks but those are the springboards from which we explore the rest our surroundings in the unschooling and roadschooling sense…but they’re just the beginning of our exploration, not the end. And the great thing about books is that they’re portable. As in, you can read anywhere but there’s only one place you can see the Grand Canyon or geocache the E.T. Highway or paddle the Okefenokee Swamp…so why be chained to a desk?
But really the whole point of this Real Talk post was to share some other bloggers’ great articles that fit in with our experiential education philosophy and why we’ve embraced it. The larger theme here is the power of travel in our learning process but for me these pieces, when knitted together (or in my case, “Pinned” on a board), illustrate the beauty of experiential education…
Travel as a learning experience…
- In this post my friend Nancy from Family on Bikes makes some great points about the power of travel in child development.
- Here, the usually happy-go-lucky Tracey from Life Changing Year, gets serious about life in Cambodia which was a real eye-opener for her family.
- Edgy June talks about how travel has benefitted her flexibility and coping skills.
- This guest post at Family on Bikes by Shannon Entin of Road Trips for Familes gives some short and sweet tidbits about the benefits of travel for kids.
- From a truly epic unschooling mom, Lainie of Raising Miro on the Road of Life, comes this post on creating life-long learners.
- And I love this post over on Boots N All about long-term travel as education.
- Another Boots N All piece addresses cultural immersion.
Putting it together…
These posts may seem quite disparate but I liked the breadth they cover in terms of what travel can do for us. Certainly the role of travel in education as displayed in these writings is not age-dependent. You’ll notice they aren’t specifically child-centric posts because in truth, we all learn through travel. I know I’m getting a lot from it and I see Fred and George connecting many dots about the world that they probably wouldn’t if not for their experience. It’s not to say that valuable travel can’t be done in addition to a traditional school setting, but their experience would certainly be much less extensive if we were only able to travel during school breaks and then it would be about escaping our everyday lives rather than enhancement.
So these are just a few of many great posts out there that help me articulate why we do things the way we do here, mainly in that the best learning doesn’t happen sitting indoors behind a desk. What I think they show is that to have a full, rich understanding of our world, history, people and life, you have to get out there and dive into it with all of your senses personally. Reading or hearing about it can only get you so far. True understanding of anything somes with experiencing every smell, sound, taste, touch, and sight for yourself.
While we may not have the rush of back-to-school mania every autumn, we find other ways to make sure we Gather No Moss and that means embracing experiential travel education. Whether near or far from home it’s all about seeing things in real life which you know is a bit of a theme here… 🙂
How have your travels educated you?