In Enki Education, learning is seen as the highest goal. Becoming a life long learner requires a strong and supple ability to learn from the unknown – this is the core of real intelligence. Therefore, in all we do in the Enki approach, we strive to ignite and nurture the ACTIVITY of learning in each child – experiential education becomes critical.
In our approach to experiential education we begin all studies with a deep and rich immersion in the particular subject matter. Then the children are given ample time to engage with the new material through the arts and open-ended exploration of manipulatives. Finally, prior to any formal introduction of formulae or mechanics, children are given tasks, questions, or problems to tackle. These carefully structured tasks, coupled with ample time for personal discovery, are designed to help the children uncover underlying principles and formulae on their own. From here, concepts and skills bloom with real understanding.
For example, in this holistic approach, first graders might hear a story about children who are always giving their things away, and then do some drawings of the generous Mini-Minus and the all fair Dominick Divide. With the introductory story and arts aspects complete, when they are ready to work with simple division, the first graders might find something new in their counting bags – where each bag previously contained twelve stones, now suddenly each bag has a different number of candies. The desire to even the shares arises in the children naturally. After a few random tries at evening out the shares, some among them will realize that they can methodically give one to each classmate or family member, then a second, and so on, all the while chanting about King Dominick’s “equal share for every hand.” In the process they discover the underlying principles and mechanics of division.
In an older grade, this approach to experiential education follows the same process: fifth graders may be given string and asked to go out and measure the circumference and diameter of any circular items they can find. Upon charting their findings, they can see the basic relationship between circumference and diameter, and will have discovered Pi for themselves. Then, using graph paper, they can discover how Pi figures in computing the area of a circle. Sixth graders may take pots and pans out to a large field to explore light and sound. With some at one end of the field and some at the other, one child clashes the pots and waits to see when others hear it. Immediately the children experience that light travels faster than sound. Very quickly they want to measure the time it takes for the sound to arrive. Soon, with nothing but household items, a long tape measure, and their own curiosity, they have calculated the approximate speed of sound.
Whether exploring mathematical and scientific relationships, making phonetic connections, or writing letters to George Washington arguing for the freeing of the slaves, the children are encouraged to exercise this “organ of discovery.” Their thinking process is empowered through this approach to experiential education – it is the process we are cultivating at every juncture and in every area, as it is the base of real thinking. In this way, at every step of the journey children are not only learning the content in a real way, they are also becoming effective learners and discovering the empowerment and enthusiasm born of this.