Why Hands-on Skills are Useful
Practical learning offers learners an opportunity to participate in the learning process, appreciate the concepts from a personal point of view, and better understand education’s overall goals. Hands-on experiences are applicable today in different learning subjects, languages, art, and scientific ones. An instructor who meets the different styles of instruction leads the learners to benefit from diverse learning modalities, unlike the traditional “bookish” approach. First, hands-on activities in the classroom lead the learners to base instructional information on the exercise of the environment they are exposed in. As a result, learning in the classroom is converted into a discussion, creative, and discovery session. With time, the learner becomes adept at making decisions, reducing the instructor’s workload.
Hands-on experiences are key in empowering memory. Doing something brings an experience that develops memory. For example, creating placards for new vocabulary spelling may be useful in enhancing spelling skills compared to dictational sessions in a classroom. This may be useful for allophone students. Hands-on experiences also improve the skill set of the learner. A bookish approach to learning may only be relevant for testing and evaluation purposes, but hands-on experience retains the learned skills for continuous performance.
A learner introduced to a concept through a hands-on approach is prepared to handle real problems. The world of work requires that individuals have the capability to solve real problems and not just theoretically prescribe the solutions. Creativity and innovation begin by imagining new environments, which can only be possible when the learner has acquired practical skills in concepts. Besides, the hands-on experiences boost the interactive approach to learning, where the learner can clarify doubts and make integrative solutions by incorporating input from others. On the other hand, bookish learning may be described as a one-sided individualistic approach to learning.
Hands-on Experiences in Practical Subjects
In subjects such as science for primary school learners, the hands-on learning approach requires that the students do something themselves besides listening and taking notes in the classroom. In the case of a laboratory experiment, for example, the student is led to engage most of their senses, immersing themselves cognitively and physically, i.e., hands-on, minds-on learning. In an experiment, the learner not only observes but may be required to smell an aroma, listen to a sound, discern between colours, etc., which ultimately facilitates total learner engagement.
Hands-on experiences empower the learner to be in charge of the conceptions and performance of an experiment, the foundation of discovery. Scientific principles are generally based on an inquisitive approach to learning; hence a learner is introduced to the different hypotheses and allowed to develop a greater pursuit for knowledge. For example, rather than providing a conclusive weather guide in the classroom, learners may be allowed to create their weather system led by a defined hypothesis.
A Message from the Principal
The Principal, Mrs Marie-Claire Martin, with more than 40 years experience in education, advises that abstract concepts are more meaningful, transferable, and retainable when attached to an activity or performance. Mrs. Martin notes that students who have an opportunity to approach learning from a practical approach become motivated to grow, inquire, innovate, create and initiate. Mrs. Marie-Claire Martin also notes that learning in today’s world is more of a social interaction than an individual one; hence active learners are better at improving other skills, such as emotional intelligence. As part of the school’s administration and other stakeholders’ input in enhancing hands-on learning, Mrs. Martin reminds the learners that the school infrastructure and facilitation towards the realization of a more practical approach to learning have been developed with continuous improvement to meet the new standards of learning.
With the establishment of the ‘young lawyers’ extracurricular program in the school, Mrs. Marie-Claire Martin noted that learners wishing to sharpen their speech, debating, active listening, visual communication and rapport management skills have an opportunity to gain hands-on experience besides the classroom learning goals. Such skills would prepare the learners to future careers such as in the legal field. Noting that the program is led by experienced instructors, , Mrs. Marie-Claire Martin added that learners who join the program have an opportunity to learn related concepts in law, justice, rights and responsibilities or citizens and societal morality and ethics.
“For students wishing to pursue medical courses for career, the school provides ‘young medics’ extracurricular classes where they are introduced into some foundational medicine concepts in conjunction with practicing devices,” said , Mrs. Marie-Claire Martin. Noting that engineering is a highly inquired course in the school, Mrs. Martin also advised that the school has completed another program for ‘young engineers’ where students interested in architectural and construction concepts are provided hand on tools to build their models, such as maquettes for bridges. In preparing learners for the technological landscape in the 21st Century, Mrs. Marie-Claire Martin invited learners interested in careers in AI and Robotics to explore the different hands-on skills offered in the advanced Robotics extracurricular classes, noting that “…the program has been established in conjunction with the leading industry players to ground the leaners knowledge in understanding the Robotics design and solutions.”