Experiential Education is Focus of Workshop

What is experiential education? What, if anything, are the benefits? These questions and others were addressed in an hour-long workshop presented by seven students in the Glen House on Nov. 12.

The workshop was lead by Devin Farkas ’10, Callie Krumholz ’10, Lauren Duncan ’10, Matilda Andersson ’10, Will Gowen ’11, and Amelia Mattern ’12, and dealt with different facets of experiential education, a blossoming movement that promotes learning through doing. Experiential education emphasizes group interaction and physical engagement, and works to explore avenues of learning and interpretation that differ from traditional methods.

The presenters had all attended the Association for Experiential Education’s International Conference in Montreal, Quebec, from Oct. 29 to Nov. 1. The conference was an assembly of hundreds of teachers and outdoor group leaders and included dozens of seminars and group workshops.

The workshop leaders recapped lectures that they thought were particularly interesting, interspersing their summaries and reflections with short group games designed to invigorate the audience and keep everyone engaged. The natural attention span of an adult is only 10 minutes, and increased heart rate caused by psychological and physical engagement is one especially effective way of keeping the audience interested. One such game involved a ball of energy being passed around the group in a circle via physically intensive ninja-like martial arts moves.

The presenters gave their closing thoughts during a hands-on lesson in how to make rope out of nothing more than a roll of paper towel. Such a lesson teaches not only a craft, but serves as a reminder of what it means to operate at natural human speed, as people today tend to fall into a pattern of digital multitasking that can be stressful.

The Hamilton Outing Club intends to organize a group trip to a regional conference at Camp Kieve in Nobleboro, Maine, in April.

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