Adventure and Extreme Learning

Allow me to state this first: Adventure Learning and Extreme Learning sound cool. Really cool. Like, “why am I sitting in this classroom typing on a computer when I could be doing Adventure and Extreme Learning?”

And it is cool. It is very cool. The ability to learn everywhere and anywhere, to connect with those in situations I would never get to experience – to explore Antarctica with scientists studying there, learn about creatures of the Deep Oceans  with those diving into the depths, tracking fish and other sea creatures, or climbing to the top of the World at Mount Everest.

Since the industrial model of education took formal learning to the masses in the United States, learning has been construed as one which took place in a four sided room, with a talking head up front (there are exceptions – Dewey, Montessori, and others relied more on experiential learning models where students did things instead of being passive). There was little interaction with the outside world, the teacher was the gatekeeper of knowledge.

Not so any longer. Experts can come in to the classroom. Students can explore habitats, cultures, and ideas they otherwise would not have ever been exposed to.

The term “Non-traditional learning ” fits this context perfectly. We have advanced beyond gatekeeper instruction (although some may claim that not to be), and students can explore. Students can interact. Students can experience.

My only concern is the use of the term “Extreme.” I do not think I am  convinced this is extreme. Well, it may be, based on the fact it is a large deviation from the norm. But when I think Extreme, I think Snowboarders riding down a Olympus Mons (on Mars) while on fire. If we want to add learning to that, perhaps they are conducting a biochemistry experiment while snowboarding down Olympus Mons on fire. Extreme Learning.

Alright, perhaps that takes it a bit too far. Sometimes I just like playing with words. Wordsmithery. In any case, I am not sure if the term Extreme fits – isn’t it just Learning?

Perhaps this is something I need to explore further, and do much more reading. The eXtreme Learning Research team at IU’s website might prove to be fruitful for some summer reading.

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