Get your hands at it

Hands-on learning has been practised since ancient times and has been quite effective as well. However the clamour for marks and grades made it go out of fashion. Today it is more relevant than any other mode of learning and is imperative for making children future-ready. So, go ahead and soak in to enjoy your life, making it worthwhile.

What exactly is hands-on learning?

According to Bonwell and Eison, anything that involves students doing things and thinking about the things they are doing, is hands-on learning.This is when the brain is engaged in making connections and creating familiar patterns to what we have learnt, by applying it in our day to day lives.When a student learns this way, he/she gains valuable skills like  critical thinking, problem solving, communication and creativity, which are the essential  21st century skills. Things done by ourselves and practised over and over again not only leads to perfection but stays embedded in our minds. Knowledge thus gained stays on forever. In fact, this educational philosophy helps students to actively create knowledge instead of being a passive consumer.


Importance and relevance of hands-on learning

When students are engaged with their hands and their minds, they are more focused and motivated to learn. Students can relate their learnings to the real world situation, thus can retain more information.

Hands-on learning provides opportunities to a student to safely make mistakes and learn through trial and error. Humans naturally learn by making mistakes and determining to either fix them or avoid them. More the cycle is repeated, the more the student becomes better at facing those challenges without hesitation. 

Research has shown that students of all ages learn better when they are actively engaged in their learning journey. When children have busy hands they have a busy brain. 

Hands on learning enables a child to see exactly how what they are learning can be used in the real world. Studies have shown that children always do better when they get connected to the subject emotionally. Emotion seeks attention and attention leads to learning.

Science says hands on learning better engages both sides of the brain. Listening and analysing processes occur in the left hemisphere but creative  processes are handled on the right ,the overall connection of both enables humans to store more relevant information.

According to Dale’s Cone experience, students remember about 10% of what they read, 20% of what they hear but 90% of what they do.

Hands-on learning: the only way forward

In the words of Nelson Mandela – Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world. Education gives us wisdom, but only when acquired rightly. Thus the process of learning itself must be made easy and interesting  for children. Active engagement in this process through hands-on learning makes it feasible.

Teachers have experienced that the learning outcomes of the students from a field visit involving personal engagement and interpersonal interactions, is far richer and more complete than from a verbal discussion in a classroom session. They come up with high quality reports and presentations after an activity, such as a factory visit, that justifies the effectiveness of the activity.

Today, hands-on learning is imperative for making a student future-ready.

About the authors

This article has been contributed by the following students and teachers from St Joseph’s High School Matigara, Darjeeling- Ragini Mohpal, Chahat Giria, Megha Agarwal, Muskaan Kedia ( students) and Anindita Banerjee Barua (teacher).

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