NEWS & EVENTS:

(2) GARDENING 101 : A Transformative Learning Experience

Transformation often requires a complete change in appearance or character. This makes it profoundly personal; focusing on one’s experience, insight and understanding of life.

Transformation cannot be forced, but it can be guided and influenced. A seed cannot be forced to grow into a tree; but it can be influenced by the environment to flourish, to be stunted, or to not grow at all. Likewise, learning is now being ‘transformed’ to be more responsive to the needs and aspirations of our learners; thus moving away from its artificial and arbitrary ways.

Transformative learning with R.E.A.L is an opportunity, a journey and an experience that come at various levels with different outcomes. It is characterized by cheerful curiosity and a continuous pursuit for greater knowledge, experience and competency.

Ours is a learning journey that is designed to respond to ongoing changes around us, whilst placing the learner at the heart of our philosophy. This includes initiatives to transform an individual into an authentic learner. Here, we are merely the ‘environment’ that tends to each seed, doing our best for them to blossom.

To achieve this, the learning experience must have appropriate designs with clear outcomes in mind. This then sets the platform for activities that promote the desired learning and development.

Compare this learning experience to the care given by seasoned gardeners. They know just how much water, sunlight and soil each plant needs to fruit. Not all plants are the same, of course. Similarly, in the ‘garden’ of a class, we adapt every learning experience to suit each student.

Outcomes on the other hand, set expectations on how the learner can explain, apply or demonstrate a learning experience. If a flower doesn’t bloom, we question why and what we need to do to help it bloom. If we know the right amounts of water and sunlight for a tree to bear fruit, we remember and repeat those steps or requirements.

Facilitators are the gardeners to learners, and we use what we learn about students to promote the desired learning experience. We make adjustments as each student grows, in order to give them opportunities to strengthen and broaden their learning, and be fruitful themselves.

The R.E.A.L Learning Journey has three stages for each curriculum level, starting with the R.E.A.L Kids preschool programme that is designed to nurture graduates that are confident learners. Preschoolers are naturally curious about everything and have the uninhibited courage to question anyone.

But like seeds that are full of potential, they are also at their most delicate. Their enthusiasm to learn can be encouraged as easily as it can be discouraged. Thus, it is vital to develop a sense of positive self-awareness by being in sync with their thoughts and feelings.

Emotions also highly affect a person’s ability to learn. Thus, it is also important to build up their physical, mental, and emotional well-being. Confident learners who develop the right roots of attitudes and habits carry these with them throughout their lifelong learning journey.

Over time, graduates make the step up to the second learning goal, i.e. R.E.A.L’s primary school programme in order to be committed learners. The roots that were planted at preschool would have already given learners firm foundations. Like seedlings surfacing from the soil, they look forward to the next phase in their learning journey, equipped to pursue growth.

They now possess increased motivation and a better understanding of things which fuel this commitment to learn. Their intrinsic growth also persists as they develop self-respect, positive appreciation of others, as well as good character and moral values. This process is akin to seedlings in the midst of transformation towards becoming a tree. They absorb as much as they can before they can be independent in their learning journey.

Graduates now progress to students of our secondary school programme, which aims to produce competent lifelong learners. Having planted roots that have grown to provide self-reliance and resilience in the face of adversity, they have built secure values and beliefs at this stage by being in the right environment.

This is also the point where they discover the determination to reach high standards of achievement in anticipation of adulthood. The result is a willingness to engage and participate in socio-cultural activities, having inclusive and open attitudes towards different people, and an openness towards new thinking and ideas. Competent lifelong learners are primed to be active contributors of society and the workforce. Students already start to work on what they can do to build their future.

The R.E.A.L Learning Journey ensures that both experiences and outcomes combine to provide students with appropriate opportunities for progression within each level, to arrive at their desired capacities. The aim is to cultivate learners who drive their own learning journey, while fuelling them to go as far as they can.

In short, we strive to spur each learner to grow from the ground up, to plant deeper roots in children, and to grow taller trees in adults.