Learning as Differentiation of Experiential Schemas

In Jim Parry & Pete Allison (eds.), Experiential Learning and Outdoor Education: Traditions of practice and philosophical perspectives. London: Routledge. pp. 52-70 (2019)
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Abstract

The goal of this chapter is to provide an interpretation of experiential learning that fully detaches itself from the epistemological presuppositions of empiricist and intellectualist accounts of learning. I first introduce the concept of schema as understood by Kant and I explain how it is related to the problems implied by the empiricist and intellectualist frameworks. I then interpret David Kolb’s theory of learning that is based on the concept of learning cycle and represents an attempt to overcome the corresponding drawbacks of these frameworks. I show that Kolb’s theory fails to achieve its goal because it is rooted in some of the fundamental epistemological presuppositions of these frameworks. Subsequently, I present a group of works from phenomenology, in particular Merleau-Ponty’s, in order to show that Kolb’s attempt is insufficient due to a lack of understanding of the problem expressed by Kant via the concept of schema. Finally, I outline an interpretation of experiential learning as differentiation of experiential schemas and explain how it meets the epistemological challenges outlined above.

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Jan Halák
Palacky University

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