Experiential learning can be defined as a method of learning through first-hand experiences. For students, the Skills, knowledge and attitudes required to succeed in today’s dynamic world are acquired outside of the traditional academic classroom setting and may include social projects, field research and service-learning projects.
For working professionals, these gains are acquired through structured experiential management development workshops.
The best example of the Experiential learning methodology would be the ancient Indian Gurukul System (Consisting of 1 Acharya / Guruji and 10-12* Shishyas / Students), where the daily routine chores are divided amongst the shishyas/students. For instance, if cooking is a task then all the elements of cooking (water, wood, Vegetables, Grains, etc) required to achieve the goal (cooked food) are divided among the shishyas. Few look after procuring water, while others take care of vegetables, grains and still others take the responsibility of collecting wood, dried grass and so on.
Though working on different elements, their common aim is one i.e. cooked food. After the food is cooked and enjoyed by all, the shishyas/students share their experiences while performing their particular tasks.
The Guruji/Acharya then de-briefs them on the tasks they performed, the mistakes they made and draws parallels to their approaches to life – All the things under the Sun grow and flourish because of the common principles they adhere to; Like the tree has a strong foundation because of its roots. The roots get nourished from the soil and the soil receives water from rain. Each of these elements has to work together in perfect harmony for the Ecosystem to work.
If we anthropomorphise the tree, it would seem that roots are the reason the tree lives and thrives – if it detaches itself from the roots, then it is violating the principals of this Ecosystem and the consequences will be the end of its life. Similarly, a lot of parallels can be drawn for us I.e. values and ethics (roots) as guiding principles. Experiential workshops for young people, like the Gurukulas of yore, help us in understanding, appreciating and imbibing these value driven principals in our lives.
By Kunal Dorji, Student Intern at Xperentia Consulting.