Adj Marshall

Posts Tagged ‘experiential learning’

A 1770’s Education + A 1970’s Education = ?

In Art, Education, History on September 1, 2011 at 2:08 pm


“Goodness without knowledge is weak…yet knowledge without goodness is dangerous”

~Phillips Academy 1778 Constitution

Many of you were with me at the beginning of my journey… that is when I officially decided I was going to document my LEAP (Liberal Arts Education Plan) through the articles here on Learned Curiosity. If you were not, I have probably met you somewhere along this journey and would encourage you to check out its beginning. While I must admit I have all but ignored the documentation these past few months my learning continues to prevail. In journeying, my physical and cultural awareness has been tested inspiring my intellectual and spiritual centers. I have made it across the country and back twice by train, plane and buss, for trainings, radical marching band events, rock-climbing adventures, hiking, adventures, back packing adventures, family history research quests and of course… to share my wealth of knowledge by serving as an educational facilitator.

When I first began contemplating my LEAP over 8 months ago I was grappling with the questions of “What does it mean to be educated?” “What is a valuable education?” and “Where does one find such an education?” In choosing my LEAP I was eschewing the Americentric educational view which values concrete classrooms with credentialed instructors and standardized outcomes. Instead I was choosing community, collaboration and creativity to serve as my guides. Sir Ken Robinson, a leading thinker in the field of educational reform, states “We have to think differently about human capacity, we have to get over this old conception of ours about academic, nonacademic, abstract, theoretical, vocational” and recognize that “most great learning happens in groups, and that “collaboration is the stuff of growth”. Check out the animation below Changing Educational Paradigms.

Choosing my LEAP over graduate school last year was essential in staying true to my values. I learned long ago that by serving as an active participant in my own education rather than a passive one I could come to a more in depth understanding of our global community. Education for me, has always extended beyond the confines of a classroom, necessitating a deep-rooted engagement with community.  So when I chose to look at graduate programs this year I only selected ones that valued the expertise of community and creativity as much as I did.

I applied to two institutions neither program having exactly what I was looking for… and the truth be told I don’t believe any one program could. Each was uniquely skilled in their field of expertise and allowed enough freedom for students to explore varying interests. I felt I could be comfortable at either. Being accepted to both programs allowed me the freedom to choose the educational program best fit for me… only I couldn’t.  In the end I decided that only by creating my own blend of the two programs would I be able to delve into the issues I hope to pursue.

Which leads us to today the day before I begin my studies at both World Learning’s Graduate School for International Training (SIT) in Conflict Transformation (Brattleboro VT) and Brown Universities M.A. in Public Humanities (Providence RI).  Combined, these two institutions will give me the international perspective on the positive use of arts in conflict situations while  allowing me the resources and knowledge to understand arts impact on social interactions.  As the year moves on I will be pursuing studies focused on how marginalized communities (most likely international ones) utilize the arts in their personal struggles for justice.

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A World of Education

In Education on January 3, 2011 at 9:50 am

“Schooling isn’t worth anything unless it creates for people the capacity to believe that they can change the world. If our kids don’t believe they can change the world then I think we ought to say that our education has not been strong enough”.

-Jean Piaget.

These past 8 years my life’s work has been Education. As a firm believer in service learning & experiential education I have come to embrace this methodology as my own teaching pedagogy. In particular I appreciate the pedagogy’s focus on the instructors learning  in the process of guiding others learning as well as utilizing education as a means for creating change.

In my past work I have had the opportunity to partake in and guide  service learning and experiential education programs across the country and globe. In the states, this has included programs in San Francisco CA, New York NY, John’s Island SC Jamez Pueblo NM, Lawrence MA, and Providence RI. Abroad I have worked with the communities of Mindelo Cape Verde, Guayaquil Ecuador, Wellstead Australia, and Ermera East Timor.

Oliver Hazard Perry RI (OHPRI)

Last week while surveying the local news I came across an article in the lifestyles section of the Go Local Prov news detailing RI Commissioner of Education, Deborah Gists’ approval of the SSV Oliver Hazard Perry to serve as the states At Sea School Ship upon its completion in 2013. The program is described as a “floating classroom” that will  “Incorporate at-sea, on-shore, and classroom experiences that transcend regional and cultural boundaries, OHPRI will bring students together to learn about the oceans and the marine environment and it will expose our young people to exciting maritime and oceanographic careers.”

I find the OHPRI project particularly exciting as it will take learning outside of the classroom. In the wake of RI’s educational crisis, I view learning methodologies that challenge the current practices of standardized testing as a  means to a more human centered and fulfilling educational experience.

While I was living in Australia I had the opportunity to partake in a month long experiential educational program upon the Leeuwin II  similar to what OPHRI hopes to offer. After my voyage upon the square rigged tall ship, I chose to volunteer as a crew member for 6 months, where I served as an experiential educator and honed my skills as a rigg climber. My experience instilled in me an affinity for sailing, which I don’t get to do very often, and also spurred my interest in rock climbing an integral activity to my current life. Below is a video detailing the experience of what a Tall Ship Classroom experience might be like.

I often ask students in my service learning/experiential programs  to share with one another their greatest learning experience. When we have completed the exercise I work with the students to find the commonalities and differences amongst their experiences. The one commonality I can be sure of with certainty is that their greatest learning experience will have happened outside the confines of a classroom.

Climbing the Rigging on the Leeuwin II

While no where in the article is the term experiential education mentioned what is being proposed  by OHPRI is exactly that.  The individual championed as the father of Experiential Education is John Dewy. I am currently reading Education in Democracy and skimming Experience in Education. Dewey’s approach to education relied heavily on experience as the central element in the educational process. For an experience to be educational Dewey believed it needed to have continuity, the idea that one experience fosters in an individual the interest to learn more and interaction that ability for one to grow by meeting their own learning goals or needs. Experiential education is often employed as a method of teaching that takes into account the variety of learning styles needs and goals each individual brings to their education.

As the only member of my immediate family non diagnosed with a learning difference, I have come to recognize the immense benefits of experiential learning. While I feel as comfortable in a book as I do in the real world I have deliberately chosen to make experiential learning a part of my education.

In a high school class of over 500 I was the only student to pursue both an AP college prep track  and vocational track. In college I chose to study the social ill’s of society through my Sociology degree while simultaneously choosing to make changes in these structures through my service learning work in my  Public and Community Service degree. In each of my jobs since college I have consciously chosen work that allows me the opportunity to work directly with individuals while offering me the freedom to step back, reflect and make alterations to the larger structures at hand.

This year I have chosen to focus my energies on creating my own self designed  LEAP( Liberal Arts Education Plan). Overarching themes include Education, Art, Business, Communication, Foreign Language, History, Music, and Physical Pursuits. In a variety of formal and informal ways I have chosen to pursue an experiential learning path that I direct. One where I learn music as part of a radical community marching band, foreign language as an ESL tutor, and history from the local library. This blog will be a space for me integrate my various educational LEAP objectives while serving as an arena to reflect upon the continuity and interaction, to use Deweys’ terms, of my experiential education this year.

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