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Experience pedagogy

Experience pedagogy means enabling human growth and learning through experiences that touch a person holistically. Experience pedagogy is based on the human concept, according to which every person has  something good that can be developed to bring about spiritual growth.


Here and now

The focus of experiential pedagogy is living in the here and now, meeting learners respectfully and appreciating values. Appreciating values is being aware of one's own values, knowing their bases and contents, and striving to understand and respect the values of others.

In experiential pedagogy, the aim is to provide individuals with challenges that, by meeting and overcoming, they have the opportunity to learn and develop. Experientiality and comprehensiveness go hand in hand in experiential pedagogy. Finnish experiential pedagogical activities often involve nature, but elements related to art and drama can also provide experiences. Small and big adventures, group tasks and learning the skills needed in nature are, however, only tools for education and learning, never an end in themselves. 

Experience-pedagogical, challenging activities give individuals and groups opportunities to notice and evaluate their ways of working in different situations. Although the activity specifically emphasizes personal growth processes, it is also important that learning takes place in interaction with other people when facing experiences and challenges.  The group is a mirror for the individual, through which he receives feedback about himself and his activities, and the aim is to transfer what has been learned through the feedback discussions to the everyday life of the participants.


The activity requires the individual to use their cognitive skills


Actions generate feelings and experiences and touch values


The activity requires using the body and physicality

The three central concepts of experiential pedagogy are head, heart and hand.These three areas create the basis of experiential pedagogical activities


 Strengthen in experiential pedagogical activities

Self-awareness, self-sufficiency, noticing one's own potential, compassion, resilience, interaction and communication skills, skills for working in a group.

Decision-making ability, problem-solving ability, taking responsibility, creativity, curiosity, adaptability, persistence, everyday and life management skills.

Working in nature/batch skills and different sports skills



The German-British reform pedagogue Kurt Hahn (1886 - 1974) is considered one of the most famous developers of experiential pedagogy. Communalism, activity, self-discovery and emotionality are central concepts in Hahn's experience pedagogy. New circumstances create adventure and experientiality, and the educator's role is to initiate, enable, support and monitor the process.

Hahn never created a unified educational theory, but took influences in his pedagogy from the ideas of Goethe, Plato and Rousseau, among others. Plato's work The Republic greatly influenced Hahn's educational philosophy - society's task is to ensure that citizens have the opportunity to find their own strengths.

Hahn saw the social condition of his time as sick and unable to support the positive development of young people. He saw social diseases affecting the youth in civilization, which were:

  • too much ease of movement,

  • a decrease in initiative and entrepreneurship due to adopting the role of a spectator,

  • the weakening of memory and imagination, because everything was offered ready-made,

  • forgetting hand skills,

  • deterioration of self-discipline due to excessive stimuli and stimuli and

  • the weakening of pity and compassion due to the constant rush and efficiency thinking.

Hahn believed that education should awaken a hunger for life. Hahn welcomed strong emotional experiences such as confusion, fear and euphoria. The experience had to be loaded with the joy of doing and discovering together. Hahn's goal was not to raise individuals who adapt to society, but to be responsible bearers who are ready to change the ills of society. Hahn spoke for people and individual freedom and believed in individual freedom, but he considered it important to raise young people through experience to notice the importance of social ties in order to preserve individual freedom. During World War II, Hahn was expelled from his home country and moved to England.  In 1940, Hahn met Jim Hogan, a young history teacher interested in youth work who later became the director of the first Outward Bound school. Hahn and Hogan found  a suitable location in Aberdovey, Wales, where they founded the first Outward Bound school in 1946. Today, Outward Bound activities have spread to all continents and more than 35 countries.

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