Learning by Doing

We’re in the middle of a bunch of outreach to students, faculty, members of the press right now, and time and again we find ourselves explaining the fundamental philosophy of the Adianta School: Learning by Doing.

This is an old idea, really, and has been established in guild traditions and coming of age rituals in all regions of the world. It is only recently, in fact, that some other concept of education has come about, which prioritizes classrooms, theoretical knowledge and examination testing of that conceptual information. This newer approach has its place — for theoretical understanding and the related cognitive development of a young mind there is no substitute. The problem arises when this model comes to be seen as the paradigm for education and comes to be used for the development of skills, an application for which it is obviously unsuited.

At the Adianta School we have developed a highly practical and pragmatic education, one which is in service of making a young person effective in a challenging work environment from Day One. The array of skills required can only be taught by actually doing things, and not only being exposed to ideas about doing those things.

Learning by Doing doesn’t also mean just being thrown into the pit of a workplace and hoping you will figure things out for yourself. Rather, it means disaggregating the relevant skills and concepts and techniques that can bring success, and running simulations, role plays, problem statements and mini-projects which simulate real life, so that learning can occur with a safety net and with feedback from an expert advisor.

We call this a studio-based approach to learning, because it draws from the pedagogic traditions of design and architecture as well as theater and dance. We fundamentally believe that we cannot lecture people into being better performers. But we can advise and guide young people in the process of their own efforts to becoming self-critical of their working styles today so as to become more effective leaders, collaborators and innovators tomorrow.

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