Column: ‘Experiential Learning At Its Best’

August 11, 2019 | 5 Comments

[Opinion column written by Minister of Education, Diallo Rabain]

In my Motion to Adjourn speech on July 19th , I stated that I intend to be the longest serving Education Minister in Bermuda. This was not said to be vain, but was said because I recognize how disruptive it can be to our education system to have a revolving door of Ministers of Education. I am committed to transforming our present education system into one that we as a country can be proud of and is first choice for our children. This transformation includes not only curriculum but accountability of our staff and the infrastructure of our buildings as well.

To carry out this promise a vision of what education should look like to satisfy the needs of our students from 2022 and beyond is required. A vision of what a 21st century student profile should be, is required. As we put together the whole picture of what this vision for the future of education should be we are putting in place now, what we can, that is a part of that vision.

Although school has been out since the end of June, staff within the Ministry and Department of Education have been working hard on behalf of students within the Bermuda Public School System. Over the next few weeks The Ministry will release information on initiatives that we are embarking on to give the public a better understanding of what we are doing to transform education and why.

This week we focus on Experiential Learning. Experiential Learning at its most basic is learning through doing or learning through reflection on doing. Most adults were taught through a teacher centered approach where students listened to a lesson or read a textbook. This is increasingly a method that is decreasing in effectiveness for our modern learners. Proposed by psychologist David Kolb, the main steps of experiential learning are: experiencing, observing, analyzing, and experimenting.

Concrete experience provides information that serves as a basis for reflection. From these reflections or observations, we take this information in and form abstract concepts asking questions. We then use these concepts to develop new theories about the world, which we then actively test.

When students are able to see, hear, and interact with topic matter in this way their attention is held making for greater retention of knowledge.

The benefits for students who learn through Experiential Learning methods include:

  • Increased motivation and engagement, encouraging self-directed learning;
  • Facilitates the exploration of the relationship between academic theory and practice, increasing clarity around academic and career goals;
  • Builds leadership, technical, and professional skills;
  • Increases confidence, maturity, and self-management;
  • Improves problem-solving, critical thinking, research, communication, and teamwork skills;
  • Develops skills to transition to the workforce;

While Experiential Learning is not a new method of teaching it is a method that supports the Plan 2022 Strategy Priority 1: Increasing academic rigour and student engagement.

When engaged as a teaching method it has great impact as was shown through the work of Somerset Primary P6 students.

On Thursday, June 13th , Somerset Primary P6 Social Studies class learning about Politics and Law shared what they were learning about the political process and elections with their entire school when they held a mock election.

Students formed four parties brainstorming on issues they thought were important to include in their manifestos which they wrote in persuasive essays and read to the entire school over their PA system. All students played an active role in the process with persons chosen as party chair, committee members and candidate. Students also chose party colours and slogans, canvassed the student body in their classrooms and held a rally within the school.

On election day, the Somerset Primary student body lined up with their Voter ID Cards in hand to be checked off on the Voter Registry. The election was made to be as realistic as possible with security, returning officer and scrutineers. To add even more realism to the event student’s witnessed what happened when a student “forgot” their Voter ID Card or their name was not included on the registry.

Teacher Lisa Siese stated of the event, “I was really pleased with the range of issues which [the students] selected for their platforms. I’m sure that this experience will help shape these, the future voters of Bermuda, creating politically aware and informed citizens”.

CITV were on hand on election day to capture video highlighting the event.

This election is a great example of Experiential Learning at its best. It is our intention that more opportunities such as this take place in our schools.

- Diallo Rabain

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Comments (5)

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  1. Realist says:

    I’m sorry but the longest serving Minister doesn’t make you the best Minister. Did it ever occur to you that no one wants that portfolio. There’s also no confidence in you. Let’s not put your ego to far out there because you could end up being the longest serving Minister who achieved nothing!

  2. Joe Bloggs says:

    “CITV were on hand on election day to capture video highlighting the event.”

    Imagine that, the Department of Propaganda was at a Government sponsored event!

    • Tania Stafford says:

      I am sorry that you felt it necessary to be negative.

      Did you watch the video? Did you read the article?

      Experiential learning is a thoroughly researched and documented technique that is demonstrated well by an exceptional teacher and her students in this article. Try being positive in life, it will enrich everyone you encounter!

  3. aceboy says:

    They were all shown exactly how the election process works….and who they should be voting for when they are old enough. Brainwashing at its best.

  4. Rocky5 says:

    So sad – all this is brain washing our children.

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