Experiential Learning

On Friday night I watched my 16 year old son sit around the kitchen table with four other friends playing board games. They were deep into play taking over the world and challenging each other. I supplied the food and drinks and they played well into the evening took a break for family dinners and came back to finish off more games.

Yes this was healthy fun, time away from the computers, televisions, cell phones and malls but more importantly there was a lot of learning and experiencing going on.  Board game play for teenagers offers more than socialization, it offers experiential learning.  Whether you are conquering the world, making strategic moves to stay alive, buying or selling or making and losing fortunes or even reviewing your trivia knowledge base, playing board games give teenagers the opportunity to have “almost” real life experiences.

Confucius said “tell me and I will forget, show me and I may remember, involve me and I will understand.”

Experiential learning is learning through reflection on doing.  It focuses on the learning process for the individual. One makes discoveries with knowledge firsthand, instead of hearing or reading the information.

Experiential learning requires no teacher and relates to the processing of the individual’s direct experience. Gaining of knowledge is an inherent process that occurs naturally, but for real learning experience to occur certain elements must be present. According to David Kolb an American educational theorist, knowledge is continuously gained through both personal and environmental experiences.

He states that in order to gain genuine knowledge from an experience, certain abilities are required:

  1. the learner must be willing to be actively involved in the experience;
  2. the learner must be able to reflect on the experience;
  3. the learner must possess and use analytical skills to conceptualize the experience; and
  4. the learner must possess decision making and problem solving skills in order to use the new ideas gained from the experience.

Playing board games is a perfect surrounding for teenagers to create this environment.  As willing players, teens may be able to reflect on their experiences in a positive setting and analyze the consequences of their actions thru game play. With repeat game play, teens may utilize their past decision making and problem solving skills to improve their outcome in future games and put these new skills into real life experiences.

By selecting the right and different styles of games, teens will have a diverse selection of encounters. Experiential learning can be a highly effective educational method. It engages the learner at a more personal level by addressing the needs and wants of the individual. Experiential learning includes self-initiative and self-evaluation. New skills, new attitudes or even entirely new ways of thinking can be derived from this form of learning.

Board game play is the perfect environment for experiential learning to occur. It provides a fun learning atmosphere, with plenty of laughter and respect for the teen, and fosters an effective experiential learning environment. Encourage your teens to play with the family or with their peers.  The benefits will be everlasting.  Who knows they might end up working for the UN or be a future President!

About Griddly Games

Griddly Games creates award-winning party and board games that deliver innovative, engaging fun that brings people together while encouraging social interaction, learning, strategy and challenges that anyone (the entire grid of people) can enjoy. To discover more about Griddly Games, visit www.griddlygames.com.