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One must define certain key terms of the aforementioned motion before delving into the arguments. Traditional learning methods, as the name suggests, refer to a conventional approach to education with textbooks and notes or lectures and blackboards. Most educational institutions, attracted by its seeming simplicity and safety, employ these traditional methods. In contrast, experiential learning requires experiencing the knowledge or information a student is attempting to gain. To understand the difference between the two learning methods, one can imagine how carpentry would be taught (although institutions employing traditional learning methods would rarely focus on vocational skill development). While traditional learning methods would direct teachers to show a video of expert carpenters or make students memorise the history behind carpentry, experiential learning would encourage students to utilise carpentry tools and try out the art themself.


After understanding the purpose of the essay, one must contextualise the motion. Renowned psychologist Hermann Ebbinghaus’ learning curve, describing the relationship between memory and time, says that one’s retention rate of the information that they learned is merely 2-3% at the end of thirty days. Perhaps this is why a student will mug up the definition of photosynthesis for an upcoming science test and forget the same as soon as the test is over. It is no surprise that the current mainstream education system, using traditional learning methods, is only able to produce students who are good at memorising instead of students who are good at learning. A student cramming up mathematical equations in fear of punishment and hunger for marks would be considered well-trained, not well-educated. Therefore, a need to fix this flawed education system appears to be imperative.


Although the term ‘education’ is commonly known, one must define it in relation to the motion of this essay. Education never ends; primary and secondary education is succeeded by Bachelor’s, Master’s, and Doctorate, and may continue after that as well. However, students are given the liberty to choose what they want to learn as they grow older. Upon making this choice, knowing the core theory of the subjects is vital and certain aspects of traditional learning methods need to be employed to achieve the same. Therefore, for the sake of this essay, education will be defined as learning that occurs solely in elementary and middle school.

Benefits of Experiential Learning:

Experiential learning tackles three major problems that plague the prevailing education system, namely efficiency, motivation and practicality.


Present-day educational institutions, despite the evergrowing technology to assist teachers, are unable to teach students efficiently. A rigorous eight-hour school day and a demand for burdening amounts of homework do not prove to be enough. In this over-competitive society, students are required to sacrifice their little free time to attend extra tuition. Additional effort is expected from students who want to appear for competitive examinations as well. A student goes through unfathomable difficulty, only to be rejected by colleges on the basis of “lack of extracurricular activities”. Such a learning environment demands appalling amounts of students’ time and effort, guaranteeing zilch in return.

As proved by several studies and articles such as “The Science of Learning Part 2: How the Brain Learns”, the act of practising a skill strengthens the neural connections in the brain. Hands-on activities require students to apply problem-solving methods and make independent decisions. Through these processes, a drastic increase is witnessed in student engagement, which further accelerates learning and improves retention. Repetitive learning fails to achieve such feats. Not only does the high focus on collaboration benefits students by increasing their engagement, but the students’ immediate involvement in a problem-solving activity increases their level of ownership as well. Another strikingly beneficial aspect of experiential learning is the trial-by-error method. Hands-on tasks help students find approaches that work better for them than others. They thus discard the methods that don’t work, but the act of initially trying it becomes a valuable part of the learning process. Students learn not to fear mistakes, but to remember and benefit from them.


As discussed before, fear of punishment and hunger for marks appear to be the sole motivators for students. As schools assess each student using traditional learning methods and assign a numeric value to a child’s hard work, students’ motivation to put in effort begins to decrease. The desire to obtain marks overshadows the desire to learn, and education thus fails to fulfil its true goal.

Students regard lectures and textbook materials as futile if they are not convinced by its applicability in the real world. Experiential learning takes data and concepts and applies them to hands-on tasks, yielding tangible results. Students’ interaction with the information concretises the learning material. Experiential learning also enables students to seek unique solutions to a given problem. This liberty also acts as a motivator. By incorporating concrete experiences in learning and reflecting on the outcome, students engage more regions of their rains and make personal connections with the material. When students see the concrete fruits of their labour, they experience greater gratification, which further enhances their enthusiasm for learning.


A huge amount of theoretical knowledge enforced upon students oftentimes proves to be irrelevant to their future. Furthermore, the low retention rate in traditional learning methods results in little applicability of said learning material in the real world. Students thus end up learning pointless names and equations only to end up never using the same.

Experiential learning projects are significantly more career-oriented. Through these activities, students can discover and develop their skills, aptitudes, and passions. Experiential learning activities are also communal, requiring students to work in groups. Through these team projects, students learn essential social cooperation skills. Therefore, students who undergo experiential learning can expect their future to go relatively easier than that of those who underwent traditional learning.


One might criticise experiential learning methods by claiming the same to be impractical in implementation. Experiential learning can be written off as unrealistically utopian. However, such an assessment would be highly imprecise. Numerous educational institutions have not only successfully implemented experiential learning, but have produced excellent students using the same. Few of the many institutions include Mirambika, Gurukul and most notably Aurovalley. These institutions are based on the ideals of religious and philosophical figures; experiential learning in modern education systems is yet to be developed. One must note that the institutions mentioned above are not merely schools that provide the bare minimum experience of the real world; they are renowned institutions that have completely parted ways with traditional learning methods.


Our education system is in dire need of a shift to experiential learning methods. The issues that traditional learning methods face have been made eminently clear. This essay has elaborated on the undeniable advantages of experiential learning and refuted the common yet flawed notion regarding its unrealisticness. Education is an everchanging process and society must realize that the shift to experiential learning is vital. One cannot let traditional, conventional and evidently ineffectual learning methods hold back the development of humanity.

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