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Beyond Learning by Doing: Theoretical Currents in Experiential Education [Paperback]

Jay W. Roberts

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Book Description

28 Oct 2011 0415882087 978-0415882088

What is experiential education? What are its theoretical roots? Where does this approach come from? Offering a fresh and distinctive take, this book is about going beyond "learning by doing" through an exploration of its underlying theoretical currents.

As an increasingly popular pedagogical approach, experiential education encompasses a variety of curriculum projects from outdoor and environmental education to service learning and place-based education. While each of these sub-fields has its own history and particular approach, they draw from the same progressive intellectual taproot. Each, in its own way, evokes the power of "learning by doing" and "direct experience" in the educational process. By unpacking the assumed homogeneity in these terms to reveal the underlying diversity of perspectives inherent in their usage, this book allows readers to see how the approaches connect to larger conversations and histories in education and social theory, placing experiential education in social and historical context.


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Review

"This book does make a significant contribution to experiential education and it will make an invaluable resource for those researching and working in experiential education. Roberts has not only identified many currents where more work needs to be done if we wish to think differently about experiential education but he has put politics and ethics at the forefront of that work, something that is sorely needed in this field."
—Australian Journal of Outdoor Education

About the Author

Jay W. Roberts is Associate Professor of Education and Environmental Studies, Earlham College.


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Amazon.com: 4.5 out of 5 stars  4 reviews
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars If you love Educational Theory and Experiential Education 1 May 2012
By Adam - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I just finished reading Jay Roberts book. I am currently a MEd graduate student and working an a research project on the transformative qualities of Environmental Education (EE). I found that this book was just what I needed to ground my beliefs, good and bad, about EE. However, I did find chapters 5 and 6 challenging to follow. Not because they were tough to read, but because there was so much good stuff to take in. I could only read 10-15 pages at a time, then I had to reflect on how my mind just got blown.

Also, I have taught EE for 3 years. I have had a similar incident with a student like "Alvin." It is a story I see referenced far to often in the critique of EE. Thank you for including such a powerful narrative to shed light on how these experiences need to be better supported after students leave the EE facility and return home.

THIS WAS A GREAT DENSE READ!!
5.0 out of 5 stars Great read 30 Jun 2014
By Rui Pinto - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
This book is essential for all and any practitioner interested in improving their understanding of experiences in the context of education and capacity building. It is well structured and well written book. The author provides a simple summaries at the end of each chapter which are life savers. Plenty of quotes and questions that inspire and get you thinking. I enjoyed reading this book immensely.
5.0 out of 5 stars A must read 11 July 2013
By Edward Sneiderman - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
This is a must read for anyone in the field. Roberts gives a thorough philosophical review to experiential education. This foundation allows on to rise above methodology an consider just what it is we do as experiential educators. The routinization of experience and the use of our methodology to serve the needs of commercialization are particular points to consider.
2 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Worth digging for buried treasure. 7 Oct 2011
By Richard Gerrish - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
My first review of this book gave it three stars and said...

"There is some great content in this book. Sadly it is buried beneath a mass of overly complicated padding. If you have a background in philosophy, are really into Experiential Education theory or like spending time looking up long words for the hell of it then this book could be for you. If however you want to understand the theoretical background and potential future for experiential ed from a practitioners point of view then, in my opinion, look elsewhere."

I decided to give it another more concerted effort however and on second reading I have to say I was able to get a lot more out of this book and I found some chapters really enlightening, especially the Critical Theory section. As a result of this I would emphasize that yes, there is some outstandingly good content in this book and the river metaphor holds up very well indeed.

The padding however is an issue and if I had been able to engage with the content more easily I would give this book 5 stars. Maybe I am being picky but being repeatedly told that this book is not the place to go into depth with such and such a topic is so obvious as to be redundant, I only need to be told once. The preliminary explanation of how each topic is going to be explored is also unnecessary in my view. Perhaps that is just my learning style but I'd rather just cut to the chase. Taking notes whilst reading helped me extract what I thought was the buried treasure amidst the costume jewelry.

Jay W. Roberts says he is working on another book aimed more at the practitioner and in my view this is what the field of experiential education most desperately needs. Fact is, I think most practitioners get into Experiential Ed by accident. They are outdoors people, social workers, teachers and community leaders first before they discover this methodology that they find really helps them to achieve their educational aims. For this group of people, a primer on Experiential Ed philosophy and theory is long overdue and I really look forward to it hitting the shelves.
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