Alongside distributed learning, another new type of learning is taking shape: Situational Learning. There are many ways to implement situational learning, some of which include scenario-based projects, simulations of certain events and role-playing. It can be observed that situational learning is most useful for subjects such as history, literature as well as speech and drama. Encouraging students to play the role of Julius Caesar or taking on the role of Gandhi is definitely more interesting than having them sit at their desks, reading from their textbooks.
We should also encourage students to be part of a historical / literary theatre work production. This will further enable the students to understand the role better, and this technique works better than role-playing in the classroom. This is because the costumes that they wear will increase the realism of the role for the students and the rehearsals for the play will further familiarise them with the historical characters.
This is not to mention that situational learning is meant only for the arts and the humanities. Situational learning can also be applied in technical studies. For example, students can be given a real life problem and asked to design a system to solve it when it comes to engineering. Similarly, students can be given certain specifications within a given scenario to design a building when it comes to architecture. And all these activities can be taken outdoor to increase the realism of the scenarios.
In my previous article, I have suggested the implementation of a fixed curriculum to inculcate life skills into students. I will like to add that his curriculum should be flexible enough for it to be integrated into the various fields of studies. In this case, students can actually learn life skills such as collaboration and conflict management through situational learning. It is important that students learn life skills when they are still in academic institutions not only because employers in recent years are looking for such qualities but the fact that what takes place in the classroom is drastically different from that in the workplace. This difference is something that most educationists have identified in recent years.
So, what is this difference? Well, students in class tend to collaborate more often than confront one another because they understand that the grades for their projects depend wholly on the cooperation of all the team members. There is no reward for individual excellence in this instance. However, when it comes to the workplace, some employees (but not all) are vacillating between contributing to the team (so as to be a strong team player) and standing out as an individual (so as to excel in their year-end appraisal by their superiors). This is a dilemma because the two endeavours – which are equally important – do not always go together. And it’s this dilemma that often stumped students when they enter the workplace.
It is important that we inculcate esprit de corps and strong camaraderie among students and create an awareness in them that individualism is good but ultimately, it pales in comparison to collectivism. There are many justifications for this. In sports that involve strong teamwork such as soccer, the winning teams are the ones with the best teamwork, not the ones with a powerful striker. In the world of filmmaking, the director holds the clout but a film is successful only because there is a strong filming crew behind the production team. An educational institution cannot be outstanding without the cooperation of both the school administrators and educationists.
In a world of consumerism where one is asked to flaunt his or her individuality, collectivism seems to be covered by its shadows. But this cannot be when one endeavours to excel in the workplace.
Only when one contributes does one receives.