Historical Development

John Dewey, an American educational philosopher, was an early twentieth century promoter of the idea of learning through direct experience (action and reflection). Experiential education differs from much traditional education in that teachers first immerse students in action and then ask them to reflect on the experience.

In traditional education, teachers set the knowledge to be learnt (including analysis and synthesis) before students. They hope students will subsequently find ways to apply the knowledge.

Despite the many efforts at progressive educational reform, reports by researchers such as Goodlad (1984) and Sizer (1984) suggest that most teaching, particularly at the high school level, still involves the teacher as purveyor of knowledge and the student as passive recipient.