Thinking in the Box - Thinking;Learning;Acting
I hear and I forget
I see and I remember
I do and I understand
Doing, reflecting and improving on the ‘doing’ is one of the fundamental
learning principles practiced by the UNITE Programme. The University of
KwaZulu-Natal’s Intensive Tuition for Engineers (UNITE)
Programme is an academic support and development initiative aimed at high
academic potential learners who as a result of the apartheid education legacy,
experienced various educational deficiencies and hence are inadequately
prepared for higher education.
The UNITE Programme offers intensive, fun and experientially based activities
to enhance and impart valuable learning skills to learners from
socio-economically and educationally deficient backgrounds.
For the vast majority of South Africans, apartheid bequeathed a schooling
system largely based on rote learning and with inappropriate content for the
academic demands of higher education and the needs of a modern, industrial
economy. Large numbers of school leavers enter our tertiary education system
with limited academic tools to cope which has impacted severely on throughput
rates and academic success.
Experiential learning activities offered at UNITE provide a vital
epistemological platform from which these learners develop their learning and
coping skills. These activities are underpinned by learning which derives
either from general life experience, from specific activities or from the
feelings and thoughts aroused in the learner while or after participating in
such activities (Titmus et al 1979).
Hence The Thinking in the Box workshop has been premised on the following
- Learners are increasingly adopting passive learning approaches as
a result of an over reliance on technology;
- A lack of interactive activity impacts negatively on effective
interpersonal communication skills;
- Problem solving and lateral thinking skills are in decline.
The 'Thinking in a Box' workshop is an experiential activity designed to be
fun, creative and interactive. Basic skills are inculcated. The most basic
principles are to approach learning with an open mind; open heart and open will
A variety of learning resources are placed in a matchbox. With limited
instruction, but with clearly defined learning objectives, learners participate
in a collaborative activity, have to solve puzzle and make a useful item.
The structure of the workshop is informal with limited time allocation. The
emphasis is on fun and perseverance.
At the end of the session, valuable learning principles are extrapolated.
The learning materials are easily accessible, inexpensive and especially in
developing countries which are under resourced, the aim is to make experiential
practitioners aware that everyday use items with some lateral thinking, can
become effective learning aids.