Publish at November 16 2021 Updated November 26 2021

"I learn, therefore I am"

Experiential learning and learning experience


Inherent learning!

I recently discovered the fabulous work of the Hélène Trocmé Fabre in particular her "Born to learn" films and the book of the same title (to name but one!)

Nothing but at the cellular level - which constitutes us - the human body is a collection of cells that are constantly renewing, transforming and learning . I have always been transfixed by the principle of "neuron migration" that occurs just after birth.

So, at the cellular level as well as the human level, learning is a fully lived experience; in a, non-conscious way the body "learns": we have all learned to walk, talk, run to dance, etc; much by observation (vicarious learning) and also by listening and repetition. There is reason to wonder about the valorisation of this experience, which is nevertheless so rich and complex, but which would nevertheless have been translated into a standardisation, an "industrialisation of learning:

According to the work of Ken Robinson, the current school system "rests on the intellectual culture of the Enlightenment and the economic conjuncture of the Industrial Revolution." It is extremely efficient for managing large groups in pyramidal collective intelligence but quite catastrophic for the individual (especially in terms of creativity, see Ken Robinson's work on this)

So, the sensitive, bodily experience of learning was translated in the industrial century into a static, cerebral experience but one that made it possible to generalize education to as many people as possible; democratize, as it were.

This is the model that many "pedagogical innovators" are pushing; such as Jean-Charles Cailliez with his "reverse classroom" who identifies this origin of school model to 18th century Prussia (from the works of Salma Khan cited by Jean - Charles Cailliez 2017 "The Reverse Classroom" p19)

In the 20th century, brain sciences have experienced a revolution since the works of Damasio, we know that the cognitive brain is intrinsically linked to the affective, sensitive, emotional brain. This is also consistent with Howard Gardner's research on multiple intelligences.

So, might not experiential learning, such as sports, dance, cooking and their methods, become inspiring models for more abstract learning? The challenge seems to me to be questioning if not stimulating.

A global education

Practice with confidence, where one feels on solid foundations allowing one to undertake and project oneself into related practices, like reading the newspaper when one begins to know how written language works, when one begins to understand, to take with oneself, to welcome one's environment in the light of newly constructed, incorporated knowledge... isn't that what learning is all about?

This is similar to Kolb's experiential learning in which "learners" are placed in environments close to reality so as to realize, become aware of the learning process. Learning is viewed as a process rather than an outcome. This research has enabled him to describe learning precisely in a cyclical manner and thus, determine "learning styles".

It seems to me that we hold here something to build a pedagogy(s) based on experience and thus privileging knowledge in being.

This abolition of intellectual boundaries allows us to consider all types of knowledge differently: practical knowledge, conceptual knowledge, knowledge of being... and in fact fully consider learning throughout life which has finally always existed, from the world of childhood to advanced ages through the professional worlds ...


The title of this article is borrowed from Hélène Trocmé-Fabre's title "J'apprends, donc je suis"

Hélène Trocmé-Fabre "Born to Learn"

Ken Robinson "Changing the Education Paradigm" 2010 TED Talk

Ken Robinson, Marianne Bouvier (2017) "Changing the School. The revolution that will transform education."

Jean - Charles Cailliez 2017 "The flipped classroom. Pedagogical innovation through posture change." Éditions Ellipses.
See also his TedX in Lille 2015

Antonio Damasio (1999) Descartes' Error. The reason for emotions

Howard Gardner(2008) The theory of multiple intelligences.

Sabine Lesenne 2010 "Consequences of illiteracy"

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