Integrated experiential learning…say what, now?

Every time I tell someone that what I do is Integrated Experiential Learning, I get this blank stare as if the people I’m talking to are searching through their deepest thoughts and memories in order to remember something that might give them a clue about what that is.

Now what’s so cool about experiential learning?…well that’s actually how we learn about 100% of the actions we do every day and about 80% of everything we ever learn in life. The actions that you do every day, from getting out of bed, walking, brushing your teeth, driving a car, riding a bike, you learned all of those by experiencing them. You didn’t read a book about walking, but you tried and tried and tried again, until you perfected this action so well that it’s not even part of your conscious mind anymore. You don’t think about walking, you just walk.

You will never actually forget the things that you learned through experiential learning. You may forget things that you learned in school that maybe you don’t use every day, but the chances of forgetting how to ride a bike are very slim…as the saying goes…it’s like riding a bike. And what does that mean, well it means, that not only did you store some memory about that activity in your brain, but you also stored in your body and even if the brain may bury the information in some layers that are not immediately available to you, your body still remembers…and then the brain catches on. And what do I mean by saying that the brain buries the information…well apparently we don’t forget anything, all the information about all the things that we’ve experienced is still stored in our brains, but what happens is that if we don’t use that information frequently, the connections lose their power, therefore the information in not readily available anymore. It’s like a road that’s not maintained properly…sooner or later, the road is covered with dust and we may even think that it’s not there anymore. And the reason we remember things a little bit different every time is because every time, we recreate that path and it can never be exactly the same as the last time.

So if experiential learning is so cool, then why do we need mnemonic learning? Well because there is no experience that can tell you what my name is or even what your name is, there is no logical, cognitive connection between me as a person and my name. My name is just a label that I was given at birth to differentiate me somehow from the other people. And although, sometimes we identify ourselves with our names and we look to give our children names that have a certain meaning, we still have to remember those names mnemonically. And what about phone numbers, addresses? How often you know exactly where your friend lives, but you have no idea what the exact address is? That’s because you learned the way to get there by experiencing the route, but in order to remember the address, you have to do it mnemonically.

So when you get to learn how you want to be by practicing it every day, then it stays with you forever. It’s not the history lesson you learned in 6th grade, but you are actually retraining your body to learn and evaluate the experiences that you have every day so that you get the most of them. And why integrated? Because what I do, is not limited to certain moments or even better to the moments when you feel good, but it’s a process that you get to integrate in your life and use it whether you feel you’re on top of the world or you’re at the bottom of the ocean and you’re looking for a way to lift yourself up. (tip: grab on to a shark – they cruise at about 40m/h…you’ll get to the surface really fast!).

But all jokes aside, I support people in finding the tools they need to help themselves and to integrate those tools in their day to day life. I don’t do it for them, but I support them in doing for themselves, therefore when they accomplish something, the victory is all theirs.

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