As I reflect on the learning taking place at Googong, there are many occasions where I see evidence of deep learning, where through the process of experiencing and reflecting, imaginations are captured, and a student’s thinking shifts from the familiar to a new understanding. Making sense of the new, reflecting on the old, wondering about other possibilities, asking questions, looking from different angles, experimenting through trial and error, learning from mistakes and linking ideas are all contributors to deep learning experiences. It is the richness of experiential learning that provides a solid foundation for education and that which will continue to promote deep thinking, powerful learning and life-long skills for all our students.
In a recent article on experiential learning, my interest was piqued by the discussion on the elements which promote deep learning. For deep learning to occur a once familiar, concrete concept is challenged by a problem or scenario outside their usual experience or understanding. This process stimulates new thought, inquiry, reflection and questioning. From their work over the span of thirty years in the field of experiential learning, Alice and David Kolb advocate for learning which requires students to “grapple with conflicts and contradictions and resolve them through collaboration”. These are the learning experiences which spark independent thought processes. The notion of grappling, collaborating and reflecting are dispositions promoted by Guy Claxton in his Building Learning Power framework. Grappling with conflicts, noticing, making links, being absorbed and collaborating are skills we are seeking to grow in our students daily, and that which I see so clearly through the many learning experiences in our school each day.