I have many memorable learning experiences from my time in school, many of which are good. I attended a primary school where I was lucky enough to have opportunities to go on various school trips, have specialists come in and go away to places like Luxembourg. Therefore, I have various experiences which were memorable for a whole host of reasons. However, I have decided to talk about one particular experience today which was our project on Japan.
I remember this topic well as it was active work rather than filling out worksheets or reading books. At the time, I considered it fun and enjoyable as it was different from the usual lessons where you would you have to sit at your desk, listening to the teacher. I think this highlights an important aspect of how to make lessons enjoyable for children. Thinking outside the box and creating lessons very different from what pupils are used to, immediately grabs their attention and therefore produces meaningful learning.
As part of our learning of the Japanese culture, we had the opportunity to dine like we were in Japan. I found this particularly memorable as it was the first time I ever tried sushi and still remember to this day the taste and the disgusted look on my fellow pupils’ faces around me. Even though I’m sure only a handful out of the 60 pupils in primary 7, 8 years ago, actually liked the sushi, it was effective in the way we were talking about it for days and the thought of sushi still reminds me of that day and learning all about Japan.
Another activity that was part of this project which I distinctively remember is making our own Japanese bowls out of clay. I found this particularly memorable as clay making was one of my favourite activities. Once they were set, we also got to paint and decorate them which I remember doing clearly with my best friends at the time. Again, as this was active learning, I really enjoyed it and still have the bowl on display at my parent’s house. In primary school, Art was my favourite subject as it allowed me to be creative. Art still remains most children’s favourite subject at school and I think as teachers we should take advantage of this. Incorporating other curricular areas with art would allow more meaningful learning to take place, if the children were more engaged in say maths disguised amongst art rather than just maths on it’s own (as this is normally the least favourite subject amongst pupils), their learning could be more successful.
The teachers I had who taught this Japan project, went to a lot of effort to bring Japan to us. To make learning realistic, the classroom was decorated and we had Japanese costumes, although the realistic element of these costumes is questionable, our learning had a context which we very much thought was realistic. This enabled enjoyable and meaningful learning which I still remember well. If there’s one thing I can take from reminiscing on this experience, it’s that if you make learning fun and bring the world to them the learning that goes on could stay with them forever.