Learning Through Experiences
“For the things we have to learn before we can do them, we learn by doing them.” Aristotle, The Nicomachean Ethics
One of the most exciting things about teaching in a living history site and museum is that we get to teach by getting things* into the hands of children and adults. There are many different philosophies to teaching well. Educators are in a position of trust; our learners trust that we will impart important truthful knowledge.
The most effective way to teach minds is to have the learner perform a task a pioneer (or an ancient Egyptian!) would have done. The basic tenets of heritage interpretation are:
I hear…I forget
I see…and I remember
I do…and I understand.
This applies to teaching somebody something. It means that if you simply tell (or talk) about something, it is very likely that they will forget what was said. If you tell them and show them, they will more likely remember what was taught. If you involve them in a ‘hands-on’ activity (where they ‘do’ what you are trying to teach them), they will fully understand- which means they will have totally “learned” whatever was being taught.
Society changes quickly and even the makeup of rural communities have shifted in the last few decades. Many children have never had the opportunity to touch a piece of firewood, weed a garden, carry water in a bucket and the list goes on.
The idea of stacking firewood may be difficult to grasp when a child has never held a piece of wood to feel its texture and weight. The beautiful thing about heritage interpretation is that we give children the opportunity to experience an abstract idea. Upon return to the classroom we hope that children will continue to ponder these concepts and apply this knowledge and what it might have meant to their ancestors and early settlers.
Teaching through experiences is a goal at Grey Roots. From our education programming, workshops, special events, Moreston Heritage Village, we use these opportunities to share the important history of our past. The act of sharing through experiences will provide a lasting impact in the memories and lives of our visitors.
*We used the word things to encompass everything and anything because that is the beauty of learning. It is all so important.