Experiential Learning


Experience Trumps Theory: Reviving the Apprenticeship Model, click for article.

Now here is an article that I can really relate to: Author and entrepreneur, Scott Belsky compares the effectiveness of today’s education system to apprenticeships.There was a time  when the majority of jobs were based on the apprenticeship model and training took place in real time on the job. The instructor is a master of the trade with the role of a mentor taking on the training of less experienced apprentices. Practical work-based experience replaces classroom theory and valuable lessons are learned through trial and error.

In modern times the apprenticeship system still exists but mostly in the trades sector. The point of this article is that perhaps adapting more of the experiential learning that comes from real-world, hands-on training could greatly benefit the classroom aspect.Perhaps giving college credit for experience gained out of school and making internships more of a integrated part of the overall program to encourage legitimate work and life experience. A co-op is a structured method of combining classroom-based education with practical work experience and is also a way to provide academic credit for work-based experience.

‘As we moved more learning into the classroom, we compromised the intense learning that happened in the field.’

Belsky also explains a ratio he learned of with regards to leadership development:

‘The 70/20/10 model for leadership development. The model suggests that, when it comes to training leaders, only 10 percent happens in a classroom through formal instruction, 20 percent is all about feedback exchange and coaching, and a whopping 70 percent is experiential.’

This is an interesting way to look at the development of leaders and perhaps the type of apprenticeship that I am familiar with as a carpenter may have a similar ratio of theory, training and practice. As an instructor, it will be important for me to focus on the experience based learning that student apprentices are accustom to, especially when teaching the drier theory side of the trade. I chose a trade as I was not keen on going to school and I feel that is a common attitude among tradespeople. Utilizing past experiences, promoting observation and reflection will be a valuable way to teach apprentice carpenters as they most likely prefer a job site or shop over the classroom learning.


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