Experiential Learning: Nature as Teacher

Whether experienced in the majesty and strength of a horse or the silence and constancy of a meditative boulder, Nature provides the ultimate learning opportunities for anyone seeking greater clarity and empowerment to follow their life’s path with strength, resourcefulness and honesty.

With the client at the center of the equation, Tubridge Ranch staff and associates provide learning opportunities that challenge and inspire. From haltering a horse to planting Cottonwood saplings in a stream bank, each of our programs is based on an ‘experiential’ learning model.

According to the Association for Experiential Education (AEE), experiential education can be defined as “a philosophy and methodology in which educators purposefully engage with learners in direct experience and focused reflection in order to increase knowledge, develop skills and clarify values.” The role of ‘educator’ can be used to describe teachers, therapists, trainers and counselors. The ‘learner’ can be a client, student, trainee, or participant.

The AEE goes on to describe the principles of experiential education practice. The most pertinent of these, for their particular application in life skills training and therapeutic personal growth as provided by Tubridge Ranch, are as follows:

  • Experiential learning occurs when carefully chosen experiences are supported by reflection, critical analysis and synthesis.
  • Experiences are structured to require the ‘learner’ [defined here as the individual or group member engaged in a Tubridge Ranch program] to take initiative, make decisions and be accountable for results.
  • Throughout the experiential learning process, the learner is actively engaged in posing questions, investigating, experimenting, being curious, solving problems, assuming responsibility, being creative, and constructing meaning.
  • Learners are engaged intellectually, emotionally, socially, soulfully and/or physically. This involvement produces a perception that the learning task is authentic.
  • The results of the learning are personal and form the basis for future experience and learning.
  • The design of the learning experience includes the possibility to learn from natural consequences, mistakes and successes.