Learning By Doing
The theory of 'Learning By Doing' was expounded by the American philosopher, John Dewey. This is a learning methodology that focuses on student learning through interaction with their environment and by experiencing first-hand the direct result of their actions. This process of learning is surely different from the traditional way of learning where the students learn inside a classroom setting by listening to the teacher.
When we go back to our own childhood, most of the learning was in a similar classroom format, with certain days dedicated to 'extra- curricular' learning like art, drama, music , sports, etc. These extra-curricular activities were mostly given lesser importance as compared to the other subjects that were considered core academia. These "extras" were, many a times seen as a distraction from the usual studies. However, I am certain many of us will agree that all that was considered extra-curricula was where we actually learnt a lot because we could express ourselves freely, work in teams towards a common goal, understand our strengths and this was something we didn't mind working on for a few extra hours.
All this in turn led to our development in the form of picking up leadership skills, building confidence and becoming creative. Aren't so many of these skills a part of the 21st century skills that so many educators world wide are saying are most needed to not just survive but thrive in the 21st century? Over years, this learning has taken many shapes and forms and one of the most spoken about is holistic development of children.
'Learning By Doing' at Mountain Village Foundation is a culmination of these different practices with the central focus on co-creating meaningful experiences with children. In these classes they interact with their surrounding, become curious to learn about its needs and in a partnership with their peers and others in the neighbourhood find creative ways to address these needs and hence directly act to find solutions. What's the biggest success we have seen? Children's ownership to learn beyond books through self-created experiences like searching something online to learn more about it, learning something interesting from a peer and discussing their ideas with others in the village beyond class time.
Do children own every bit of the learning? At MVF, for most parts, yes, but not all and that's where the teacher comes in. From someone who just shares knowledge, this person becomes a facilitator of the experience. The facilitator helps children connect different dots, analyse their growth and challenges and acts as a connector to different resources. This facilitator becomes an important link for the children in their quest towards finding solutions to problems that matter to them.
In the villages of Uttarakhand, their exists an opportunity gap. Parents say," children don't have opportunities to learn new things." We believe that this is where the concept of 'Learning by Doing' encourages children to create opportunities for themselves, learn from each other and turn existing limitations into opportunities of growth within their own village.