Learning through experience leads to a better understanding in children than mere classroom studies. Experiential learning makes teaching active and informal where the children enjoy and remember for long. This is because students get to be a part of what they are learning.
Being a Math teacher, it is challenging to make a topic interesting and understandable for a child. Boredom is part of the traditional schooling system and affects children of all ages. It has become increasingly important for us to find innovative ways to ensure that the students remain interested and focused. The outdoor learning is an opportunity to approach the concept from an experiential perspective. Students connect themselves well with the environment and understand that learning occurs everywhere and not only within the four walls of a classroom. The outdoor classrooms can revitalize and refocus learning that has become a routine indoors. They relive the whole experience and the concept is deeply embedded in them.
At SOI, I introduced the topic “Building The Greatest And Smallest Number Using The Given Digits” in the amphitheatre of the school. I used flash cards with single digit on each card. Children were randomly asked to pick the digits, discuss among themselves to form the number (greatest/smallest) and make the number by standing in a row. While the students are forming the numbers, they are conscious of certain rules to be followed to form numbers. As they double check themselves the rules are reinforced and any mistake committed will never repeat when they are solving the exercise problems. As they present it to their friends, rest of the students check if the number thus formed is correct or wrong. Every student is involved and they are eager to form the correct number. Students become more observant in trying to point the mistakes.
The positive experience makes students want to learn more. Being outside a classroom and having fun helps them relax. It helps them to be focussed on the process rather than the outcome of their math calculations. Working and learning in peer groups beyond the classroom walls is an essential habit to be inculcated among children. This kind of learning makes them independent and reflective. Teamwork encourages cooperation amongst the peers, builds relationships while working towards a common goal – ‘problem-solving’.
Classroom management, planning and lack of instructional time can all make outdoor learning difficult. However, I encourage all to look past these barriers and get the students outside whenever possible. Even the smallest experiences can result in benefits which will be evident in years to come.
It’s not always about getting the right answer, it’s about how they think.