Learning in life
Many things cannot be learned in classrooms. ‘Real life’ provides a better setting to learn aspects such as how to deal with the unexpected, suddenly having to rely on nothing but yourself, and the importance of cooperation. Similarly, the essence of science does not develop from within the classroom, but out of research, and although this can take place in the laboratory, it usually occurs when learners come into direct contact with nature and other people.
At some point in the past, learning was moved into classrooms and auditoriums. However, learning is increasingly leaving the confines of these spaces and taking place outside in the ‘real’ world. Why shouldn’t art history be studied in a baroque church, biology in a forest, or geometry together with an architect? Should learners not be able to conduct (re)search by travelling through the world, asking people questions, and investigating the circumstances surrounding the issues in which they are interested? Travelling also involves learning and it can be incorporated into programs in many more ways than through semesters spent abroad or through school trips. Today, learners travel to meet other people and to experience other ways of working; they travel to developing countries to help deal with global problems, or they go out into their neighbourhood to meet people and gain direct experience of social problems.
This type of learning is highly beneficial for learners. It increases their desire and motivation to learn and provides them with insights into the need for learning. It also teaches learners valuable social skills such as tolerance, understanding and helpfulness. And, it opens up opportunities to develop new contacts that often last a lifetime.
The boundaries between the classroom and the outside world are becoming more fluid
Classrooms continue to act as important spaces for preparation and follow-ups, reflection, presentation and learning from one another. However, the boundary between the classroom and the outside world is becoming more fluid. As learning processes influence and are affected by what happens inside and outside of the classroom, ‘real’ experiences can be linked to theory and study.
The basis of this trend is trust: trust in the fact that learners do in fact learn when they are in the outside world; trust that teachers will provide learners with the space they need to prepare and conduct follow-ups, and that they will ensure that learners continue to pursue their aims. It also requires trust in the world and the belief that learners will make good experiences in the outside world; trust in learning processes, and the fact that experiences always involve learning. Finally, it also means recognising that there is far more to learn than what is set out in the curriculum.