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Why NOT Experiential?

I understand books carry knowledge and information, but so does experience. Why do we forget that books after all is a summation of all worldly experiences, information, practices and beliefs put together. Well, so does experience, and experience can never be ingenuine , fabricated, unreal or just a story.

Every part of an experience is real, raw, unbiased, no second takes and definitely full of learnings. Giving birth to a child is an experience, climbing a mountain is an experience, no books, no theory, no written information can spell it out so well for you, like your own experience of it,would do. It is because only if you learn it the hard way, will you actually learn it or learn from it.Welcome to Experiential Learning. It’s a road of rediscovery, a road less travelled , a tour of learning things about you, that you did not know existed and most important of all its Learning for real.
The interesting bit is , when Experiential Learning turns out to be almost life-like, especially when Theatre is blended in. It is a known fact that Theatre is an extension of real life, a reflection of our daily experiences. What experiential learning does however is to take those life-life experiences and makes us look at our lives , work lives, personal lives, like an outsider, mostly like an out of body experience, where in we become witnesses to our own achievements, mistakes, relationships and so on and forth. So it’s almost like we have the wand in our own hands to fix and reverse the makings of our own life. So leave alone the Ppt, the reading material, the video. Come and get a 360 degree view of what is going on with you from your own eyes, and when you become your own best friend at work, off work, and for the work that you are given to do, Work becomes another one of the few things that you love and cherish!
Let me explain through a few examples, you can probably relate to.

H2SO4 is Sulfuric Acid
We have learnt from books that, H2 and SO4 makes H2S04, we also know that it is a corrosive acid. But what made you understand the chemical reaction really well?
Was it books- Partially?- Yes/No
Was it the Lab Experiments- Oh yes a lot.
Was it Using H2 S04 in real life- Mostly, yes!
Now if I were to put this in Experiential format to a mind who is learning it for the first time. I will open a bottle of Acid , dilute it in water and ask him to use it for cleaning surfaces to see sparkling results. Keeping in mind how harmful can it be otherwise and therefore be careful while using it.

That was to help you understand how Experiential Learning works, the concept of it through Chemistry, now Let me state my own experience.

When I came across public speaking for the first time, I hated the idea of it. Very idea of talking in front of people and being confident about it is what I hated the most. With time I understood that good public speaking required mastering the content you want to talk about so that your audience listens to you. Alas! By just mastering the content you want to speak about, won’t get your audience to listen to you or connect with you. Sure, they may listen for sometime, but you cannot hold their interest for a long time and mostly if there are people in audience who intimidates you in someway, or if there is a huge versatile audience, you would feel so tiny in front of them, that you can’t get your message through.

But eventually what I learned was not about the content, what I learnt was overcoming my fear of audience, or more importantly, being ‘aware’ that fear exists and then acknowledge it while talking to the audience, so that you can overcome it.

What has changed?- If you see it through the eyes of Experiential Learning, you will know the only thing that has changed, is my knowledge of fear. With time around I knew that fear would take over, so i decided to acknowledge it, shake hands with fear, and therefore the speech gets delivered with more confidence in front of audience.
Therefore through an experiential journey, which happened by default by being active in Theatre.
I encountered my fear more often.
Such is the power of Experiential Learning using theatre, it takes you on an introspective journey, almost like a walk through the doors and windows of your brain, and each time you open a door, you find something ‘new’, it’s new, but its not only new, it’s new about ‘you’, and that is what makes ‘you’ interesting.

Now Experiential Learning using Theatre as a core methodology wont teach you about H2SO4 and better public speaking skills. What it does is the following-
Take a look at the example below
Your organisation is having trouble,with your First Time Managers, who are struggling to get the balance right, performance, team management, expectations etc.
What Knowledge, Books, Ppts tell you mostly the following.
Organisational Skills
People Management
Conduct periodic reviews

What experiential Learning teaches you- It teaches you to manage yourself and your world better, only then will you be able to apply Organisational Skills and People Management. How did you learn that- Through the Experiential walk ,perhaps through simulation, activity or a theatre based game. A journey that makes you aware of you, which then teaches you to manage yourself and your world better.

First time Managers , needn’t know about managing team alone, what they need to know is how to manage himself/herself and their work well, so that being a manager becomes easier, because they are only replicating exactly what they need to do with themselves.

Here again there is an awareness that kicks in- In an experiential format, The Manager takes the same journey , perhaps a little differently, even if she make mistakes, she would know how to avoid it in real work life.
Now isn’t that worth your money and time, because you get the learning you need through an experiential mode,without having to cause any damage to your Organisation and wasting precious time .

Shayanti Roy
Business Development Consultant

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