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Experiential education is a philosophy of education that describes the process that occurs between a teacher and student that infuses direct experience with the learning environment and content. The term is not interchangeable with experiential learning; however experiential learning is a sub-field and operates under the methodologies of experiential education. The Association for Experiential Education regards experiential education as "a philosophy that informs many methodologies in which educators purposefully engage with learners in direct experience and focused reflection in order to increase knowledge, develop skills, clarify values, and develop people's capacity to contribute to their communities." Experiential education is the term for the philosophy and educational progressivism is the movement which it informed.
John Dewey was the most famous proponent of experiential education, writing Experience and Education (1938). It expressed his ideas about curriculum theory in the context of historical debates about school organization and the need to have experience as central in the educational process; hence, experiential education is referred to as a philosophy. Dewey's fame during that period rested on relentlessly critiquing public education and pointing out that the authoritarian, strict, pre-ordained knowledge approach of modern traditional education was too concerned with delivering knowledge, and not enough with understanding students' experiences.
Dewey's work influenced dozens of other prominent experiential models and advocates in the later 20th century, including Foxfire,service learning,Kurt Hahn and Outward Bound, and Paulo Freire. Freire is often cited in works on experiential education. He focused on the participation by students in experience and radical democracy, and the creation of praxis among learners.
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