Experiential Learning Tools
The purpose of an experiential learning tool is for the students to see, hear, and touch first hand an aspect of life or a living demonstration of a principle. The experience itself serves as an educational process that gives further dimension and significance to a principle/truth discussed and taught in the classroom. It reinforces the principle/truth and allows the student to, not only intellectually interact with the principle, but to feel the feelings and see how the principle is fleshed out. The designing of these tools by both staff and students can also be a very valuable process in understanding key principles.
Below are some examples of experiential learning tools. These examples are meant to be a jumping off point for staff/students to experiment with. They can be adapted to better facilitate your school and they can also serve as the beginning of a brainstorming time where the staff/students create their own.
Example # 1 : Hunger Awareness Dinner
Key Principle: Awareness of the hunger issue in the world. We as the body of Christ should respond to this issue. How will we? What is our role in facing the hunger problem?
Explanation: The students are invited to a special meal.
The staff prepares 4 different "menus".
- A full meal with meat, potato, vegetable and bread
- A meal consisting of rice, vegetables and a smaller portion of bread.
- A meal of rice only
- A meal of very watery soup, with just a few grains of rice
The students are invited to the table and the staff begins to serve them. The meals are given out according to a percentage that is consistent with the current statistics of world hunger.
A few students are given the full meal, a few more given meal #2, a few more meal # 3, and then the majority of the students given meal # 4. Nothing is said as the meals are being served. Allow discussion and questions to come forth from the group. Present the situation as a problem that they need to solve. How will they handle the dilemma? Do they share? Do they ignore the problem? It may be good to allow them to eat dinner, whether they choose to share or not. Then follow dinner with a discussion/processing time in the area of hunger. Ask questions about how they felt? Is it just? What does God have to say about this?
Example # 2 – Picking up trash/garbage in the neighborhood
Key Principle: We are stewards of God’s creation and we have a responsibility to care for the neighborhood.
Explanation – Take an afternoon or Saturday morning and as a group go throughout the neighborhood picking up trash. It is important that there is an explanation before hand as to why you are doing this and some of the principles you are trying to instill. You can also draw these principles out of the group . . . after explaining the principle, you can ask the students how picking up trash will practically demonstrate the principle. Do it for an allotted time and then gather again to share experiences. Did the neighbors comment or ask why? How did this make the students feel? What preventative measures can be taken to make this exercise unnecessary?
Example # 3 – Visiting Religious Institutions
Key Principle: Discovering and identifying different belief systems at work in a certain society. Comparing Biblical principles with those being put forthin the different religious institutions visited.
Explanation – Identify the major religious institutions in the city you are living ( lecture phase or outreach ). Give some background teaching on the religion and then arrange to go and visit that institution and have a leader give an overview of the religion. Have the students ask questions for better understanding of the belief system . . . be sure the students are not being judgmental in their questions but truly seeking a better understanding. As an example, during a DTS in Sarajevo, Bosnia we visited the Orthodox church. We "toured" the building and had a member of the church explain the traditions and basic beliefs of the church as well as answer questions. We also visited the Catholic church in Sarajevo and had the Monsignor explain the history of Catholicism in Sarajevo and answer questions. Following both visits we had time as a student body to feedback what we saw/heard/understood. We pointed out those things that we agreed with and those things that we disagreed with based on Biblical principles.
Lisa Whitaker . . . DTS Centre . . . January 2000