Psychology

Why Human Beings Learn best through Experience



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People learn best from experience because experience is the only doorway for learning. Experience is a cause, as well as an effect of learning. Experience is probably the best teacher, because there is no other available teacher other than experience. But we must not limit experience to experience per se, because some people became great by taking time to learn from experiences of others.

We should not be confused and compare knowledge gain from academe with that knowledge from experience per se. They are both learning through experience, however, situated at different dimension. Some of us cannot learn unless they experience first the abstract form of a concept (theory), while others learn quicker, if they experience first the concrete form of a concept (application). This shows that the difference lies on the learner, not on the learning process.

A microscopic view of learning process will elucidate this matter. Learning is highly associated with brain development. Some of us have either right or left brain hemisphere as dominant portion of the brain. People with a more developed left cerebral hemisphere of the brain, has greater preference for reasoning and thinking. On the other hand, people with a more developed right cerebral hemisphere of the brain are more imaginative and creative. Yet, some people have developed both hemispheres of the brain. Hence, during learning process, their attention can either be distributed or focused.

This means that when two persons who are experiencing the same thing, may be learning different concept because our brain is selective in learning a something, depending on which brain hemisphere is dominant. In cognitive psychology, theories of learning have been design to reduce the gap among learners in learning process. These theories enumerates at least twelve paradigms; constructivism, behaviorism, developmental theory, brain-based learning, observational learning, learning styles, multiple intelligence, right brain/left brain thinking, communities of practice, control learning, neuroscience, and social cognition. Among these theories, experience is not mentioned, because these theories are all learned only via experience, whether holistic or atomistic.

However, some experiences are privileged and therefore, are not available to everyone. Not everyone can experience being a king, even if we all wanted to. We cannot all experience flying into the moon. Our brain may be capable of learning everything, but our life condition may limit our experience, thus learning may be restricted as well.

After understanding the flow of learning and experience, it should follow that learning and experience are not dichotomy. They are functioning side by side. Thus all experience guarantees that a lesson will be learned, and practice will be gained.

How to maximize learning? By learning from experiences of others because others have more experience, and they may even have better experience than us. Abstracting and applying lessons gained from rich experiences of others will make us wiser, because we do not need to undergo the same rigor caused by mistakes they had gone through. Where to find their experiences? There are books, the people around us, the school, everywhere and everyone can become experiential learning for others.

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