So when I say I’m an experiential educator, what do I mean?
In one simple definition, experiential education is an ongoing four-step cycle: experience, reflect, generalize, apply. You recall a lived experience (Remember a time when you…), or create one (playing a team building game, for example). Reflect– afterwards, you reflect and create personal meaning from that experience. Generalize- you make connections between that meaning and other experiences with resonant meaning, in your own or others lives. Apply– you consider how this realization will be lived.
Through another lens, experiential education is purposeful risk taking. Deep learning means seeing something differently. Means change. And change requires risk; it means being willing to do something differently for different results.
Hence, the currency of experiential education is two things: trust and courage.
And the experiential educator (also known as facilitator’s) role is to create an environment that makes it safe to risk.
This not only highlights the implication of trust and strong relationships and strong community as part of an effective learning. But also that the facilitator themselves must take meaningful risks, walking the walk and modeling that trust and courage. This invites the authenticity, the lived experience of the people in the classroom. It leverages exactly where we’re standing, as exactly who we are, as fertile grounds.
Benjamin Zander, conductor of the Boston Symphony Orchestra and author of the brilliant “The Art of Possibility,” defines success in life as “being surrounded by shining eyes.”
“Whether you succeed or not is irrelevant — there is no such thing,” Georgia O’Keeffe wrote. “Making your unknown known is the important thing — and keeping the unknown always beyond you…”
Experiential education, hence, to paraphrase the words of such lovely creators as these, is shining eyes looking to make the unknown known, together.
To learn about other helpful resources, past experiential education projects, current work, or other curiosities, contact me.