“By education I mean an all-round drawing out of the best in child and man-body, mind and spirit. Literacy is not the end of education or even the beginning.” –M. K. Gandhi
“Learning is the relatively permanent change in a person’s knowledge or behavior due to experience. This definition has three components: 1) the duration of the change is long-term rather than short-term; 2) the locus of the change is the content and structure of knowledge in memory or the behavior of the learner; 3) the cause of the change is the learner’s experience in the environment rather than fatigue, motivation, drugs, physical condition or physiologic intervention.”
–From Learning in Encyclopedia of Educational Research, Richard E. Mayer
Introduction : A classroom is a place where the process of teaching-learning takes place in a formal environment. Most of the classroom learning is pursued through books, which are the storehouse of knowledge, but, not all the knowledge is gained through books, neither all the learning takes place in confined rooms.
Most of the practical life experiences are gained beyond the four walls of the classroom. Learning happens everywhere, not just in the classroom. Learning beyond the classroom is defined as the use of our immediate surroundings, other than the classroom, for carrying out the process of teaching-learning. It is all about getting the learner engaged with direct field experiences in order to witness the realities of life. In other words, we may say that learning beyond the classroom is a technique of making learning more realistic and life-oriented.
Learning through direct experience has more impact and credibility. It is easily engraved on the mind and it is long lasting. Having said this, now let us throw some light on the pros and cons of learning beyond the classroom.
- Makes learning more engaging and relevant
The first and foremost advantage of learning beyond the classroom is that it makes learning more engaging and relevant. In order to justify this point let us consider a simple example.
Let us assume ourselves to be sitting in a biology class. The concept to be studied is about the anatomy of flowers or in simple words, the parts of a flower. The teacher may adopt various methods to teach this topic.
► In the first case, the teacher may confine the students inside the classroom and explain the topic through a well labelled diagram.
► In the next case, the teacher may bring a flower to the class and demonstrate the various parts of parts of flower himself to the students.
In both the above situations, there is negligible participation on the part of students. Now what can the teacher do to make the topic more engaging and realistic.
He may take the students outside the classroom, in a garden and
ask them to observe different flowers and try to locate as many
parts as possible.
The teacher, in this case, is not imposing anything upon the students, rather he is facilitating the process of learning. Knowledge gained through this method would be retained for a longer period of time.
- Provides stimulus to imagination
Learning beyond the classroom gives wings to child’s imagination. A sudden change in learning environment provides a strong stimulus to explore and learn real life experiences. Good imagination usually yields creative results.
For example: Instead of narrating stories and poems inside the classroom, take the students in an open space and ask them to enact the story themselves by using their own imagination and creativity. This would arouse a sense of responsibility among
students which would influence their learning in a positive way.
- Improves regularity and school attendance
The old and traditional method of routine classroom learning may end up in creating boredom and disinterest among the students which may adversely affect their attendance whereas motivating them to engage in learning beyond the classroom and providing impetus to experiential and practical learning would surely arouse their interest.
Their minds would get diverted to learning something new, through self exploration, imagination and learning by doing.
- Good for health
Although we are taking the students to the nearest surroundings, outside the classroom yet an exposure to fresh air would surely refresh their minds and the learning opportunities can be well directed towards the fulfillment of educational goals. Even the slow learners can be tempted through out of class learning without any performance pressure.
- Development of aesthetic sense
One cannot admire something without establishing a relationship with it. Same is the situation between humans and their natural environment. Students will not admire and respect their physical environment unless they explore it themselves. Once they are allowed to learn in a natural environment, out of the confinement of classroom they would certainly develop a great aesthetic sense. They would praise the freshness of morning breeze, the bright sunshine and the sweet smell of soil after a drizzle. Thus,
beyond the classroom learning would sensitize the learners regarding their environment and develop a good aesthetic sense.
- Issue of safety regulations
A teacher must be accountable for the safety of his students while teaching outside the classroom. There are certain safety regulations that must be followed to ensure the safety of pupils.
- Problem of class management
There are always some mischievous elements in every class who must be dealt with proper care and attention. Such pupils when taken outside the class may create the problem of discipline. Such situation can be difficult to manage. The teacher must identify the hyperactive pupils and keep them engaged in some work so as to address the problem of discipline and ensure smooth conduct of teaching-learning process beyond the classroom.
Conclusion : So these were some of the pros and cons of learning beyond the classroom. If we can deal with its cons then it could prove to be a quite successful teaching strategy. Such new techniques need proper time and exposure for proper implementation and if executed properly, such methods can work wonders towards the attainment of educational goals.