When we attended school, we were expected to learn analytically. As we went through our first years of college, the scientific method became our mantra. We were expected to build knowledge on that which could be "proven". Anything else was suspect as knowledge, and of lesser value academically.
As adults, a greater portion of our learning takes place through our everyday life experiences. In order to learn, we don't need to repeatedly touch the iron to see if we get burned. Life-long learning is also much more involved than sitting down and memorizing the periodic table or analyzing scientific theories. We obtain much of our new knowledge at times when we are not even thinking about learning. Sometimes we still have to touch things in order to learn, but as adults, we learn holistically by engaging all of our senses with our environment and learning through our social contact of others. We become our own best teachers by socially participating in the learning process.
In our learning experiences as adults, we still take everyday tests of our accumulated knowledge and our application of that knowledge. The tests come in very different forms than we are used to taking in the formal classroom. The tests that we take in everyday life are actually much more effective in helping us learn. We learn to combine our classroom learning with experiential learning. Our life tests actually help us form, reform and transform our worldview which includes our belief systems, our values, and our perspectives on life. Transformative learning takes place when we go through the "process of examining, questioning, and revising" (Taylor & Cranton, 2012) our perceptions of our own experiences.
Some of our greatest learning opportunities take place when we go back and reflect on the mistakes others have made, as well as our own mistakes. We can also learn from what we ourselves and others do well. We learn from failures and successes. Hopefully, in the end, our experience will create purposeful learning, as well as, good teaching opportunities.
The negative experiences in life tend to draw most of the attention. We only need to take a look at today's news articles to confirm that emphasis is placed on the negative news events. Relatively little television prime time or newspaper front page space are dedicated to reporting the good news or in suggesting how we can improve on a bad situation.
As lifelong learners, we need to be open to new ways to broaden our experiences. The Ohio State University, Cedarville University, and other universities offer study abroad programs to southern Honduras. Study abroad for university students is often underappreciated, but it can be a valuable opportunity for students to learn outside the formal classroom. Learning does not come without risks, especially when traveling to certain countries outside the US.
Though learning can be costly, the experiences with Study Abroad students in Honduras has been overwhelmingly positive. Through the experience, university students, faculty members, project hosts, and local community members have all gained new valuable knowledge. The study abroad experience can not be evaluated simply by analytical methods. There are just too many experiences that can not be measured quantitatively. Most importantly, part of the learning that takes place comes through long-term relationships which are being built.
Though few people who have never experienced being on a medical brigade will truly understand the importance of that visit to local villagers, the knowledge gained by a few minutes of
The house that is built by university students alongside local community members is much more than a technological improvement over the cardboard and plastic houses that many people live in. The construction of the new house that includes an efficient wood-cooking stove and a new
Together, we continue to learn.
Taylor, Edward W.; Cranton, Patricia (2012-04-06). The Handbook of Transformative Learning: Theory, Research, and Practice (p. 5). Wiley. Kindle Edition.