The Future of Learning: Experiential Learning

As the world evolves, education has to evolve with it. It is now known that standard rote and didactic learning, where students learn passively, is not the only or the best way for students to learn. Now many schools in the forefront of innovative education such as Shattuck-St.Mary’s Forest City International School utilize experiential learning to ensure students gain deeper academic knowledge and more in-depth practical skills.

Experiential learning is largely defined as a process where students develop knowledge, skills,and values from direct experiences outside a traditional classroom setting. It recognizes that the classroom isn’t the only place where students grow, that activities such as internships, service learning, volunteer work, research, studying abroad, participation in group projects, creative work experiences and more can provide invaluable experiences to students. A quality experiential learning program cultivates leadership, employability skills, civic engagement, cultural awareness, and practical problem solving skills among others.

In truth, experiential learning draws from the old and time-tested adage that “we learn best from experience. However, it extends beyond, as an essential part of experiential learning is reflection and self-analysis. According to Dr. David Kholb, the psychologist who theorized on experiential learning, experiential knowledge is "the process whereby knowledge is created through the transformation of experience. Knowledge results from the combinations of grasping and transforming the experience."

Hence, experiential learning is split into four stages or elements in its learning cycle. First, students need to have a concrete experience through utilizing practical skills in hands-on learning done through the activities previously mentioned. Then, students engage in reflective observation and abstract conceptualization, they take time to observe and analyze their activities and find ways to improve and plan successful strategies. Numerous researches has shown that reflection and meta-cognition, thinking about thinking, is a very effective way for us to absorb information. Finally, the student engages in active experimentation where students apply the plans and ideas they had in reflection2. Thus, experiential learning is an endless cycle of self-improvement.

Shattuck-St.Mary Forest City International School has students experience the exceptional benefits of experiential learning starting from Lower School. The school organizes frequent educational day trips where students actively learn by visiting a location, participating in an activity and reflecting on it. Moreover, students get involved in community projects that contribute positively to society under the supervision of teachers such as cultivating gardens, stocking food banks or environmental clean-ups. These activities allow students to engage intellectually, creatively, emotionally, socially, and physically while also developing key civic values.

In Upper School, students of Shattuck-St.Mary Forest City International School continue experiential learning through the school’s ScholarShift program. Designed to transition students to the independence and self-directed learning of university and college, ScholarShift gives students the opportunity to take initiative and make practical decisions by applying their learning in highly relevant, real world contexts that can include internships, self-designed projects in the school’s weCreate space, the development of new skills or deeper learning in an area with a teacher mentor. Hence, students develop critical skills for higher education and workplace such as independence, time management, collaboration, responsibility, and presentation skills.

Shattuck-St. Mary’s Forest City International School aims to prepare students for college, university, the workplace and beyond through innovative and effective education. Our international team of experienced educational experts support and guide our students to a journey of growth and academic excellence. For more information on the school and our curriculum, visit