published on January 31, 2019
Sean Blenkinsop, Chris Beeman
The Experienced Idea
Using Experiential Approaches to Teach Philosophical Concepts
The central focus of this article is to share several experiential activities we have designed in our teaching careers that we use to help education students, primarily undergraduates and teacher candidates, access philosophical ideas and enter philosophical discussions. The examples shared below come from our attempts to help students reach key concepts and abstract ideas in some well-known educational philosophical discussions, through engaging in experiences relating to them. They are based on Plato’s Allegory of the Cave, John Dewey’s scientific method, and Martin Buber’s philosophy of dialogue. The focus for this article is not so much on the specific content or philosophical interpretation of these works but instead on the activities themselves as a means towards better understanding the concept of experiential learning itself. The three examples we present serve to show ways in which well-designed and thoroughly-considered experiences can serve as a bridge to difficult and abstract material while also honoring a more expansive range of learning styles.