Manyeleti was a pretty amazing authentic learning environment. While soaking in all the experiences and the new information about the wildlife and the ecosystem of savannah, I kept analyzing why this was such a powerful learning experience for me. And of course I wanted to go beyond the obvious: Just being in Manyeleti was pretty extraordinary in itself for a boy from Finland.
Let me explain my train of thought referring to the three moments described above. All of that information I could have learned in a classroom from a teacher or by reading a book or a website or better yet by watching a YouTube video. I could have aced a test on these facts. But would I have really learned them? Maybe, maybe not. But I bet that after my experiences in Manyeleti I can tell my grandchildren about these creatures when I’m rocking in my rocking chair. Therefore I can argue that deep learning was happening on that trip. Why?
Let’s imagine I’m a sixth grader and this trip was a school fieldtrip. From the viewpoint of learning I would break down my experience into three components: authentic learning environment, meaningful learning experience and skilled guide. All of these components were vital for my learning.
Authentic learning environment: The goal of this fieldtrip was to learn about the behavior of these animals. Authenticity is found in their natural habitat. By actually observing the animals I felt real engagement and fascination that I don’t feel when I watch video clips or read books about them.
Meaningful learning experience: Did this experience yield deep learning for all of my imaginary classmates as it did for me? Maybe, maybe not. It depends on how each individual perceived this experience. I happen to be very interested in wildlife. I find it fascinating learning about, often so unthinkable, habits of different species. That is why this was a meaningful learning experience for me.
Skilled guide: Almost like a cherry on top the stories, interpretations and explanations of our guide ensured that I gained deep understanding of the behavior of these creatures.
By Petteri Elo, Principal Consultant