Tag Archives: hands-on

Why is hands-on education important?

Many school programs claim to provide hands-on education for their students. Of course, participating in lab experiments and building things with your hands sounds fun. But are there additional reasons why hands-on education is important?

Personally, I grew up attending a school that really championed the importance of learning by doing. As a student at the Clear Spring School in Eureka Springs, Arkansas, I crafted a handmade desk for my studies. (See the Wisdom of the Hands blog for information on the benefits of woodworking in hands-on education.) I also picked up litter from community roadsides, camped with classmates, and tutored younger students in Spanish.

The Clear Spring School aims to leave children:

“with a love of learning instilled in their hearts and with the knowledge and skills that will empower them to pursue their interests.”

One of the ways they achieve this is by allowing students to pursue independent studies. They don’t force children to follow cookie-cutter programs. Not every student achieves the same progress in the same topics at the same time. Rather, they allow the child to develop skills in areas that interest them.

During a recent visit to the Clear Spring, I spoke with teacher Jessica Fitzpatrick.

I asked her why is hands-on education so valuable.
“Hands-on learning is valuable because most humans need to practice what they ‘learn’ in order to integrate knowledge into the self,” she told me.
Actually, the concept is far from rocket science. Everybody learns somewhat differently, but most humans learn (and remember things!) quite well by doing them.
For example, Fitzpatrick explained that you can research tennis for years and learn all about the physics of a good hit. But, “until you step out onto a court and try to play, you wont be a very good tennis player.”
So, how can a hands-on education help a high school student get accepted to college?

“A hands-on education ideally helps an individual connect knowledge to their own life,” she told me. “This means they understand the process of learning. They know how to seek out what they need in order to learn.”

You may be thinking — but why do I need to seek out something to help me learn? Isn’t that the job of the college I’m applying to?

College can be a very hands-off process compared to high school, so the skill of knowing how to seek out needed resources for learning can make the difference between a successful college freshman and one that fails out after the first semester.

“Students who have an understanding of the process of learning are more likely to make good choices of ‘fit’… meaning seeking out institutions that match their interests and desires. They will be better at explaining who they are, and what their educational interests are. Universities are interested in admitting students who are likely to complete their programs, and they know that students who have an interest and drive are more likely to stick it out.”

In other words, receiving a hands-on education in high school can help you to both identify the university of your choice and get admitted.

I believe that the same goes for a hands-on education in college. It will help you to both identify the job of your choice and get hired.

Curious how to use your hands-on education to write a top-notch college essay? I work with students to help them perfect their personal statements.