Understanding The Importance Of Practical Education In Schools


In the space of education, there's often an overemphasis on theoretical learning, neglecting the significance of practical education. While mastering theory is crucial, practical skills are equally essential. When children apply theoretical knowledge in practical settings, they learn its purpose and remember it for longer. This hands-on approach helps them connect learning with real-life situations, enhancing their understanding and memory retention. Besides, engaging in hands-on activities helps with skill development, leading to proficiency. Let's decode the importance of practical education as Connector talks to several professors and understands their take on this. 

Practical Education Helps You Understand Concepts Better 

Certain concepts are best understood through first hand experience, a principle that applies to many subjects. For example, merely explaining the laws of physics to children without demonstrating how they function practically reduces them to mere words. 

While they may understand the concept initially, long-term remembrance often requires a practical application. Whether it's physics or any other subject, incorporating hands-on activities aids in better understanding for children. Commenting on this, Nicholas Kilty, Design Technology Teacher at Bloom World Academy, adds, "Participating in practical activities significantly enhances students' comprehension and retention of concepts through diverse mechanisms. This engagement extends beyond theoretical learning, immersing students in real-world applications of physics, engineering, and technology principles, fostering a profound understanding of these concepts." 

Mrs Sharon Robertson, Foundation Stage 1 Class Teacher, Horizon English School and former UAE Teacher of the Year Award winner, adds, "It generates a deeper more bespoke understanding of skills and allows our brains to engrain more knowledge whilst developing our understanding of concepts and skills. When children are actively involved in their education through practical activities, they use their experiences to support their real-life experiences and learn how to cope with life and manage themselves. It improves their overall development and creates a high level of engagement, sense of agency, fulfilment and allows information to be used practically whilst placing a positive lifelong learning attitude and mindset in the heart of every child."

Helps With Improving Skill Sets 

Learning a theory in school and then applying it in practical situations not only demonstrates the substantial benefits of the theory but also develops skills like problem-solving, critical thinking, and teamwork. Children learn to apply, analyse, understand, and evaluate the utility of a theory, which not only aids them academically but also prepares them for their future careers. The skills acquired in school and the theories learnt as children, play a key role in shaping their future endeavours in various ways.

Adding to this, Nicholas Kilty, Design Technology Teacher at Bloom World Academy, says, "Firstly, they allow students to apply theoretical knowledge in real-world contexts, fostering a deeper understanding of academic concepts. This hands-on approach not only reinforces classroom teachings but also facilitates the development of essential skills. Through the project, students cultivate problem-solving, critical thinking, teamwork, and decision-making skills, essential for success in both academic pursuits and future professional endeavours, contributing to a well-rounded and practical education."

Helps With Self Confidence  

When teaching children about courage, it's important to provide practical experiences that allow them to learn its meaning first hand. Allowing children to take risks, face failures, and learn from them instils courage and boosts their confidence. Moreover, these experiences contribute to their brain development and help them gain a deeper understanding of their thoughts, emotions, and the world around them. 

To ensure that children learn through practical experiences, teachers should design and arrange a variety of hands-on educational activities in school. Adding more to this, Mrs Sharon Robertson, Foundation Stage 1 Class Teacher, Horizon English School and former UAE Teacher of the Year Award winner, says, "It can be done quite simply by creating daily opportunities for the children to be active learners, who are immersed in hands-on learning opportunities which foster a real understanding of their thoughts, feelings, and world. To boost their confidence, encourage independence and keep trying as they face challenges and take risks. To support their brain development by providing opportunities to remember and to complete complex tasks relevant to them through stories, games, conversations, puzzles, and interactions. Teachers should be positive regulators for children as they develop their self-regulation skills which allow them to grow and be successful, inspiring, confident and responsible individuals."

It Promotes Collaboration

Practical education encourages collaboration and communication skills as students frequently collaborate to generate ideas, exchange feedback, and finish tasks together. This collaborative setting promotes a sense of community, teaches students to appreciate teamwork, respect differing opinions, and learn to coexist harmoniously.

Susan Walker, Head of Art at Brighton College Dubai, adds"In contrast to purely theory-based learning, practical work, such as that done in art or photography, offers a holistic approach that integrates cognitive, emotional, and social development, providing a well-rounded education that prepares pupils for success in various aspects of life. Besides, practical processes provide hands-on learning experiences that cater to different learning styles, making complex concepts more accessible and understandable."

It Makes Learning Interesting 

Practical education makes concepts and theories interesting for kids compared to simply memorising them. When something intrigues your interest, it feels easier to understand, right? With practical learning, children engage with the subject matter wholeheartedly, paying close attention and applying creativity. This hands-on approach makes learning more effective, helping them apply and remember concepts more easily.

How Can Teachers Add More Practical Education In Their Teachings 

Sharing her insights on this, Mrs Sharon Robertson, Foundation Stage 1 Class Teacher, Horizon English School and former UAE Teacher of the Year Award winner, says, "The measures that educational institutions and policymakers can take to prioritise and integrate practical education into formal learning environments, ensuring that children are adequately prepared for the demands of the modern workforce and society are simple. Keep being visible, consult, ask a wide range of questions to the whole community that surrounds the child, listen to the quietness, there is often opportunity and learning there. Be deliberately bothered by the culture that surrounds you and maintain it through accountability and compassion. Continue creating happy diverse memories and healthy mindsets to have a well-balanced, successful, and happy future for each child that we are privileged to work with and care for."

Susan Walker, Head of Art at Brighton College Dubai, says, "There are several ways in which policymakers and educational institutes can support and prioritise integration. Some ways in which this can be done are in the allocation of resources for hands-on learning and materials and by integrating project-based assessments into the curriculum. Besides this, teachers should strive to foster a culture that values experiential learning to further support the integration of practical education into formal learning environments."

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