Characteristics of Experiential Learning at Running River:

Presenting the bridge she built at the Nature Park Opening

Presenting the bridge she built at the Nature Park Opening

1. Mixture of content and process: There is a balance between the experiential activities and the underlying content.

2. Absence of excessive judgment: Students "celebrate stuckness" ~meaning when they don't know what to do, are on their "learning edge" it means they are growing as learners, and they know they will be supported by teachers and students to continue onward.

3. Engagement in purposeful endeavors: Children have choice in their learning, and therefor the learning is personally meaningful.

4. Encouraging the big picture perspective: Students make connections between the learning they are doing and the world. Activities build in students the ability see relationships in complex systems and find a way to work within them.

5. The role of reflection: Students reflect on their own learning, bringing “the theory to life” and gaining insight into themselves and their interactions with the world.

6. Creating emotional investment: Students are fully immersed in the experience, not merely doing what they feel is required of them. The process  engages the learner to a point where what is being learned and experience strikes a critical, central chord within the learner.

7. The re-examination of values: By working within a space that has been made safe for self-exploration, students begin to analyze and even alter their own values.

8. The presence of meaningful relationships: By engaging in reflection, critique, collaboration and authentic presentations, children build a deeper internal connection to themselves, and to their peers, teachers, mentors and others they make contact with.

9. Learning outside one’s perceived comfort zones:  This doesn’t refer just to physical environment, but also to the social environment. This could include, for instance, “being accountable for one’s actions and owning the consequences.”