Learning by Doing

There is really only one way to learn how to do something and that is to do it. If you want to learn to throw a football, drive a car, build a mousetrap, design a building, cook a stir-fry, or be a management consultant, you must have a go at doing it. Throughout history, youths have been apprenticed to masters in order to learn a trade. We understand that learning a skill means eventually trying your hand at the skill. When there is no real harm in simply trying we allow novices to "give it a shot."

Parents usually teach children in this way. They don't give a series of lectures to their children to prepare them to walk, talk, climb, run, play a game, or learn how to behave. They just let their children do these things. We hand a child a ball to teach him to throw. If he throws poorly, he simply tries again. Parents tolerate sitting in the passenger seat while their teenager tries out the driver's seat for the first time. It's nerve-wracking, but parents put up with it, because they know there's no better way.

When it comes to school, however, instead of allowing students to learn by doing, we create courses of instruction that tell students about the theory of the task without concentrating on the doing of the task. It's not easy to see how to apply apprenticeship to mass education. So in its place, we lecture.

There are better alternatives to teaching people of all ages new things. Here are three efforts headed by Roger Schank that are all based on the learn by doing approach.

New Curricula  Take a look at the new curricula now available (Sept 2008) that Roger Schank and the not-for-profit Engines for Education team designed for high school. 
Grandparent Games  If you have small children in your family or world, take a look at Roger Schank's new site designed to teach little kids to read, do math, and see the world interactivey. Not only is the site built in an engaging way that makes learning fun, it allows other members of your family to interact with your child over the web!
corporate Training  What we say in this hyperbook about education is true of corporate training as well. Take a look at the work of our for-profit arm, Socratic Arts, and how corporate training can be improved.

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