EXPERIENCE AND EDUCATION IN PRACTICE: THE CREATION OF PEDAGOGIES
A comparative study on the work of six innovative educators
By: Carlos Octavio Rueda Heredia
Desautels Faculty of Management
McGill University, Montreal
How to combine experience and learning in a school or a university? How do new pedagogies get created? Who creates them, and why? The history of education is full of creative educators who integrated experience and education in new ways. By comparing a few of these cases it is possible to uncover some underlying characteristics of this practice. This is the goal of this study: to identify common, fundamental elements in the practice of integrating experience and education that transcend any particular pedagogy. The study selects six cases: three historical educators of children: John Dewey (U.S.), Maria Montessori (Italy), and Rabindranath Tagore (India); and three contemporary educators of managers and leaders: Ronald Heifetz (U.S.), Marshall Ganz (U.S.), and Henry Mintzberg (Canada). The data is collected from archival sources, direct observation and interviews. It focuses on their pedagogical creations and some biographical facts. Following a constructivist grounded theory approach (Charmaz, 2006) the collected data is re-selected, coded, and organized according to common categories.
A set of principles and practices on how to integrate experience and education emerged from this study. First: the sources of educative experiences: connecting with nature, service to society, community life, personal relationships, and discovering oneself. Second: the principles of educative experiences: educating for and in the present; embracing real life in real context; integrating content, method, and practice; educating in the ‘whole game;’ and combining head, heart, and hands. Third: the attributes of experiential learners: doing first, courageous, explorer, appreciative, reflective, and autonomous. And fourth: the tasks of creating pedagogies: designing learning experiences, establishing a laboratory of pedagogy, integrating everything into a culture, training other educators, leading a pedagogical movement, and writing about pedagogy and education. The findings contribute to the literature on experience and education by offering a set of principles and practices about pedagogical creation and development. These can help educators, schools, and universities to promote pedagogical innovation. Business schools can also use these findings to foster pedagogical experimentation and help bring their teaching methods closer to the actual practice of managers and leaders.