Learning by duh-oing
Posted March 2, 2010on:
[image source, used under CC licence]
The Straits Times featured an article yesterday, Learning by doing [archive]. The PAP Community Foundation is reportedly “testing a new teaching method to help its youngsters get ready for primary school”.
Its idea of experiential learning is one of developing in children “learning skills through play and a hands-on approach”. I don’t have a problem with this. I am all for it.
But I do have a problem with the paper calling it new. The organization is simply taking advantage of what kids already do: They learn by doing and playing. Perhaps it is new because teachers now have to learn to be less like content experts and more like learning experts!
I also take issue with play and experiential learning being used only to get them ready for Primary school. The type of thinking skills, values and attitudes that might result from this approach are things that extend beyond Primary school. I am talking about identifying problems, evaluating solutions, taking initiative or calculated risks, and negotiating or collaborating effectively with others. The list goes on and so should their development.
Such an approach should not be pigeon-holed into serving such a narrow purpose of Primary school preparation. Doing this does a disservice to the kids by compartmentalizing and strangling what essentially is a natural instinct.
We “do” and we play even as adults. There is no reason to play any less as a child gets older. The doing and playing may get more sophisticated with age, but it is there all the same. Think of war games or stock market simulations or role plays during training or team-bonding activities.
Learning by doing and playing is not new and it certainly should not be relegated to education in early childhood.