“Educated are those who have learnt much, remembered much and made use of their knowledge in practical life. These virtues I shall call by the name of `education.’ For such an education mere alphabetical knowledge is not essential. However, it is certainly admitted that literary knowledge is immensely useful in reproducing what one has already learnt.”
P. R. Sarkar
We observe, we think, we do. This is how the neural pathways of the brain are formed. It is in the final stage of doing that ideas or facts get reinforced, get fully integrated into our mental sphere. The simple test of this truth is to ask yourself when your “learning curve” was at its greatest. Was it more likely to have been during college courses or on-the-job training? This is why one of the best ways to learn something for good is to try to teach it to another!
In order for knowledge to be of any real and lasting value it must be assimilated, the definition of which is to incorporate and absorb into the mind. This means to commit something to long-term memory; to make it an easily accessible piece of knowledge in one’s frame of reference. This assimilation happens best when learning leaves the arena of theory and enters the realm of practice.
We encourage students at every turn to apply their education in many ways.
Here are a few:
1. act upon a conclusion you have reached during social studies investigations of history or current events
2. attempt to display a virtue that inspired you during literary experiences
3. develop an artistic expression of new ideas learned in science and display it for others
4. write and perform a skit that teaches others what you learned about another culture
A second way applied learning can be encouraged is to adopt a classroom project and allow academics such as research, writing and math to enter into it as a natural outgrowth of implementing that project. Examples of these are endless. Here are a few:
1. adopt and clean up a local park or stream
2. elect a class president
3. adopt a classroom pet
4. do a social service project together
Another effective way to encourage applied learning is through an Electives Program.
Experiencing a sense of mission even early in life is a goal of our education.
Every student should have that opportunity! A cookie-cutter education can’t accomplish this. But, by developing and offering their special interests and talents, children can uplift and contribute to their local and global community. Students have an instinct about their own abilities that cannot manifest itself in an overly structured day. Given enough freedom and the opportunity, they will seek to expand their learning and their minds according to their latent interests and talents. Providing such chances for this type of personal growth has many benefits:
1) the development of multiple intelligences
2) increased self-esteem that comes from accomplishing something
3) motivation born of discovering one’s strengths
4) sense of purpose that develops from making a special contribution
5) helps develop a positive attitude towards school
6) helps develop an interest in learning key to success later in life
7) provides a natural reward for staying on task and completing assignments
This program has four phases. In grades K and 1 interests and talents are developed through exposure to a variety of learning opportunities and careful observation of the student. We call it “exploration time.” In grades 2 and 3, students begin to pursue interests inspired by school activities. We call them “enrichments.” In grades 4 to 6, students design projects or create clubs in areas of interest within or beyond school curriculum. We call them “electives. In grade 7 and 8, students create Independent Study courses that involve research, report writing, career connections, and peer sharing. Through these Independent Studies students have been able to practice academic skills in a meaningful way and assimilate knowledge in a manner that insures it remains with them forever. They also empowered for life to pursue new areas of learning independently and without fear.