By – Dr. Maithili Tambe, CEO, The Academy School (TAS), Pune
In the fast-paced world of education, where standardized tests and rote memorization often take center stage, there is a growing recognition of the need for practical-based learning to empower students and cultivate their creativity and critical thinking skills. Traditional classroom instruction has its merits, but it often falls short in preparing students for the complex challenges they will face in the real world.
Practical-based learning, on the other hand, offers a dynamic and engaging approach that equips students with the skills and mindset necessary for success. The approach in traditional education is not crafted according to the needs of children. Traditional education is still driven by exam anxiety rather than a passion for learning. As education continues to evolve, there is growing recognition of the need for more flexible, personalized, and engaging approaches towards learning.
Creativity is an innate human quality that often lies dormant in traditional classrooms. Practical-based learning awakens this creativity by encouraging students to explore, experiment, and innovate. For example, pre-primary and primary students can learn concepts like gravity, force, magnetism, etc by designing toys from daily used objects, like straws, water bottles, and empty milk cartons. It will help them to learn the concepts easily along with enhancing their creativity.
Hands-On Learning: From Theory to Practice
Take, for example, a science class where students are not merely reading about chemical reactions but actively mixing compounds to observe the results. This hands-on approach not only makes learning more engaging but also allows students to see the practical applications of what they are learning.
Freedom to Explore: Nurturing Curiosity and Imagination
In a practical-based learning environment, students are encouraged to think beyond the confines of textbooks and classrooms. They are given the freedom to design experiments, solve real-world problems, and create original works of art. This freedom to explore fosters a sense of curiosity and imagination, essential components of creativity.
Thinking Beyond the Textbook: Real-World Problem Solving
When students engage in hands-on activities and projects, they are required to think critically about the processes and outcomes. They must assess what works and what doesn’t, make adjustments, and draw conclusions based on evidence. This process mirrors the real world, where problems are seldom straightforward, and solutions require careful analysis.
Historical Debates: Learning to Evaluate Perspectives
For instance, in a history class, rather than memorizing dates and events, students could participate in debates or simulations of historical events. This approach forces them to evaluate different perspectives, analyze cause-and-effect relationships, and make reasoned arguments – all of which are essential aspects of critical thinking.
Building Confidence and Independence
Practical-based learning not only empowers students intellectually but also emotionally. When students actively participate in their education, they gain confidence in their abilities. They become independent learners who are not reliant solely on teachers and textbooks. This sense of empowerment extends beyond the classroom and into all aspects of their lives. Furthermore, practical-based learning teaches resilience and problem-solving.
Preparation for the Real World
One of the most significant advantages of practical-based learning is its direct alignment with the skills and knowledge students will need in their future careers. According to the NTL Institute of Applied Behavioural Science, only 10% of students can remember what they hear in lectures and read in classrooms, but the remaining 90% of students retain what they learn through teaching others. Around 10% of auditory learners tend to find lectures more stimulating and educational than students opting for non-auditory learning methods. Moreover, 20% of visual learners prefer reading through textbooks and audio-visual tools like videos, sounds, graphs, and pictures for learning. However, 70% of kinesthetic learners maximize their learning through practicing or by group discussions and by teaching others.
Coding Projects: Preparing for the Tech Industry
The current generation will develop software and innovative applications through coding to address complex issues like climate change, healthcare disparities, and urbanization. This will include data-driven models, IoT solutions and AI-powered applications which will help solve problems that lie ahead in various fields. Coding is essential for innovations, a crucial aspect of competitiveness in the job market also.
Moreover, coding encourages logical thinking and problem-solving skills which will make them for the challenges that the future has in store for them. For example, students studying computer science can benefit greatly from coding projects, where they develop software applications or websites. Not only does this enhance their programming skills, but it also provides them with a portfolio that showcases their abilities to potential employers.
Empowering students through practical-based learning is a transformative approach to education. It nurtures creativity, cultivates critical thinking, builds confidence, and prepares students for the challenges of the real world. While traditional classroom methods have their place, integrating practical-based learning into the curriculum is essential for equipping students with the skills and mindset necessary to thrive in the 21st century. It is time to shift the focus from passive memorization to active engagement, from theoretical knowledge to practical application, and from conformity to creativity and critical thinking. The future belongs to those who can adapt, innovate, and think critically, and practical-based learning is the key to unlocking that future.