The days of schoolchildren staring blankly ahead while their teacher scribbles endless lines on a chalkboard are long gone. Although white boards and Powerpoint presentations may still be a part of modern day education, the general teaching approach has shifted from one of strictly informative to interactive. Why? Because kids learn more when they’re physically and mentally engaged in their environment. An interactive learning approach teaches kids a variety of lessons that span far beyond the classroom, and we’re going to take a look at five of them today.
Professor Eric Mazur of the Harvard School of Physics and Applied Sciences, gave a talk on the benefits to interactive learning. His talk, called “”Confessions of a Converted Lecturer”, discussed the differences between lecture-based teaching and interactive learning environments. ”
“I’m trying to turn my class into a kindergarten because small kids take ownership of their learning; they do that automatically,” Mazur said. “Then, somehow, as kids progress, by the time they are in middle school, they no longer take that ownership of learning. I’m trying to bring that back into the classroom.”
And it’s true. The vast majority of early education is dominated by structured free play. Children are given a choice over what they want to play out of a set of options, and dictate how they interact with it thereafter. Having this choice teaches them how to take control of their education and if that style continues throughout their education, children can grow into young adults who are much more involved in their own learning. The leadership skills students gain in an interactive learning environment turn them into the “self-starters” so many job recruiters are looking for.
It Builds Confidence
Instead of having to feel only as smart as the teacher makes them feel, interactive learning students are possess a greater sense of control, which leaders to healthy self-confidence needed to advance both in and outside of the classroom.
It Strengthens Memory
How many kids can recite exactly what happened in a TV show they watched last night, but not answer basic questions on a quiz issued five minutes after a lecture? The answer is too many, and the reason is that when children watch TV or play video games, they’re emotionally invested in what’s going on. Even if they’re just watching a cartoon, they care enough about the characters to pay attention to the plot.
Interactive learning does the same by providing kids with activities they care about and enjoy, so they’re much more likely to truly learn and be able to recall material later on.
It Teaches Independence
Children can become so accustomed to having teachers nag them about homework, due dates and the like that they fall into a dependency they have a hard time dealing without once they’re in college or working. Interactive learning is structured, just like a college or an office, but students aren’t told exactly how to behave, how to learn and when to fulfill their responsibilities.
Interactive learning teaches children about the importance of reaching a set goal and ascribing to a schedule, but doing so in a way that is most productive for them. Learning this self-management skill early on helps children understand the importance of collaboration vs. dependence and will help them immensely later in life.
They Have Fun
Some parents may argue that school isn’t supposed to be fun because children are there to learn and not to play, but multiple studies across various age groups have shown that students who are active instead of passive learners demonstrate increased retention and increased overall learning.