Active Vs Passive Learning: Things you Should Know

Education, much like everything else today, is going through a transition, with various strategies being used, and in this article, we will take a look at both active and passive learning strategies. The first thing to do is to define both terms;

  • active learning – learning by doing, hands-on learning, or learning through activities.
  • Passive learning is very much the traditional classroom setting, where the teacher stands at the front of the classroom, while instructing the students as a large group.

It is called ‘passive’ because the learner does not have to do anything, except focus on the subject matter at hand.

How Does Learning Best Occur?

This is a question that many education specialists have pondered since we first created schools, and the general consensus of opinion among the education experts is that learning best occurs when the student is fully engaged in the learning process. Active learning, or hands-on learning involves activities and is far more akin to real life than passive learning, and solving real-life problems develops skills among the learners.

Passive Learning

The traditional teacher-student-whiteboard model does have its place in modern schooling, and is best used when revising course materials prior to a test or examination. In our current educational system, retaining information and repeating it during tests is a necessary part of learning, therefore passive learning can be used to cement new knowledge into the brain prior to a written test.

Hands-On Learning

Pedagogists around the world are in agreement that active learning creates an environment where learning best takes place, and if you were to take a tour of the best school in Thailand, you would see evidence of active learning in every corner, where the children create projects based on their own interests and are enquiring by nature.

Essential Life Skills

When a student reaches the end of the 12 years of formal education, they will go out into the big wide world, where they will learn many essential life skills, and active learning strategies are designed to develop the following skills:

  • Critical thinking
  • Problem solving
  • Teamwork
  • Creativity
  • Thinking outside the box

Creating a group project empowers the learners in many ways, as they have to decide on the topic of their project, then in what form it will take – Poster, computer slideshow, or even as a drama production – there are many ways to present a project and the students are not limited in any way.

Developing Relationships

One could say that the key to a good social life is developing relationships with others and when young children work together on a project, they form relationships that are encouraged to blossom. Peer learning plays a role in active learning strategies, with the aim of nurturing a lifelong love of learning, and being able to work in a group will stand the children in good stead when they begin their career.

Passive learning has its place, when revising text for exams, but children learn more effectively when working in groups with a single goal.