6. The Experiential Learning Theory of Development

The course of nature is to divide what is united and to unite what is divided.

—Goethe

There is a quality of learning that cannot be ignored. It is assertive, forward-moving, and proactive. Learning is driven by curiosity about the here-and-now and anticipation of the future. It was John Dewey who saw that the experiential learning cycle was not a circle but a spiral, filling each episode of experience with the potential for movement, from blind impulse to a life of choice and purpose (see Chapter 2, “Dewey’s Model of Learning”). He compared this progression in learning from experience to the advance of an army:

Each resting place in experience is an undergoing in which is absorbed and taken ...

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