Ideas > Architects of the Intellect > Dewey: Experiential Learning

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Experiential Learning

The designs of Dewey (1938) embed learning in experience. In his concept, curriculum and instruction expand far beyond the classroom walls into life experiences. He advocates field studies and immersion in the experience itself to stimulate learning.

Dewey's influence is seen in service to the community and in civic projects such as reading to the blind; cleaning up the neighborhood graffiti; or partnering with village agencies to protest the pollution of the nearby river. It is seen as the class sets up a real store to manage consumer products, work with currency, and understand the theory of supply and demand.

The influence of his architectural design is evidenced in outdoor education experiences and field trips to local historic museums and county court houses. Dewey's theory is seen in practice in simulations: an archeological dig in which students simulate a real dig by examining the layers of artifacts found in a classroom wastebasket as they reconstruct the imagined scene.