The educational approach used in Learning about Living is called "Participatory Learning".

In the face of complex challenges in young peoples lives today we aim to: equip them with increased: self esteem; understanding; life skills and creativity. This empowers young people to co-solve the challenges they meet and co-design their own path forward. Learning is a lifelong process whereby individuals acquire attitudes, skills and knowledge from daily experiences and influences from their environment.

Participatory learning
Participatory learning is a process which directly acknowledges, welcomes, values and uses the existing knowledge and competence of those being taught. It is particularly appropriate where the subject matter under consideration touches on people’s deeply held beliefs and attitudes. It is different to 'Mug and Jug' styles or 'Chalk and Talk', which are knowledge based and teacher driven learning. Participatory learning has proven itself to be a powerful, successful learning tool that is personally fulfilling, meaningful and fun.

In this educational approach the student is central to the learning process with the teacher as a facilitator. The student is given as much space as possible to develop his/her own viewpoint through active experience.


Why Experience-Based Learning?
Consider that we remember:
• 20% of what we read;
• 20% of what we hear;
• 30% of what we see;
• 50% of what we see and hear;
• 70% of what we see, hear, and discuss; and
• 90% of what we see, hear, discuss, and practice.

1. Multiple teaching/learning methods can be integrated
2. Very learner-centered
3. Process of “discovery” builds self-esteem
4. Learning is more fun for students, teaching more fun for leaders/teachers
5. Other life skills can be learned, instead of only science content

1. Requires patience and guidance by teacher; decentralized approach can seem less orderly; may
be less comfortable to an authoritarian-style teacher
2. There is often no single, “right” answer

The teacher's role in Participatory learning:

For some teachers this is a new way of working. Now instead of being at the front of the class giving instruction, The teacher is moving through the class helping individual students as they do their given assignments. While it may seem that the teacher is losing power or control in fact the power is being shared with students leading them to take more responsibility. The different role for the teacher will take some practice but is very rewarding in the long run.

The teachers roles changes from:
Subject centred - to - person centred
Only expert - to - facilitator / guider
Discipline / authority - to - trust / encouragement
Focus on output - to - focus on process + output
Frontal methods - to - participatory methods

An ideal participatory lesson or workshop includes these elements:
  • Warm up exercise
  • Knowledge of the basic issues, to inform young people
  • Interaction with other students, for positively changing attitudes and skill building
  • Activity, making or doing, issue based, for positively changing attitudes and skill building
  • Discussion, for reflection and positively changing attitudes

For the teacher it is important to review the materials and practice the activities to be taught. As a teacher you won't freely give “the answers” to a problem. Instead, you will guide the youth in a process through which they learn for themselves. Start a lesson by telling the students what activities they will be doing. When students are asked questions or sharing about what they learnt, use the suggested questions to the students about their experience. At the end of the lesson ask the students what they felt was important about the experience.

For more information on Participatory learning you can visit these websites.