Hands On Learning is a school-based programme committed to preventing exclusion and early school leaving by creating opportunities for young people to discover their talents and experience success through hands-on learning.
We chat to Kaitlyn, a year 9 student in Australia, who’s found Hands On Learning’s approach has helped to increase her motivation, learning and a positive attitude towards school.
What is Hands On Learning?
Hands-On Learning is an opportunity for kids to express themselves in ways that other people would not really understand. For me, it’s a way to understand myself more than I have previously and to try my hardest to be a better version of myself. It also provides a break from my own head and stress.
How has the Hands On Learning’s approach helped you?
I’ve always been a bit of a perfectionist. I spend too much time and all of my energy on things that don’t always mean that much to me. I don’t feel like I’ve changed that much in that sense, but HOL has given me the opportunity to step back and have a break from that. HOL has given me the desire to work as a team and an opportunity to open up and talk to people and learn to trust. The staff in HOL taught me not to compare myself and the way I learn to how others learn and have given me someone to talk to.
Why do you think Hands On Learning is necessary?
It’s important for students to discover their talents so that they can find their purpose, and for their lives to become more meaningful. For it to be meaningful you have to have a connection and find that purpose for what you aspire to do. HOL allows you to find your passion and have new experiences that you wouldn’t have in the classroom.
For me personally, Hands On Learning is necessary because it’s a chance to show people I’m not all I appear to be. I also came here to show not only myself that I can do things that are meaningful, but also my mum.
Hands On Learning often helps students give back to their community, why do you think it’s important to include communities in education?
When we learn things in HOL it’s helpful to apply these things outside of school, so it helps us see what work is going to be like in the future. It helps you figure out what you need to work on for the future and evolve.
How does experiencing success at school help with your motivation and improve your learning?
When I first started coming here, I felt like I was outside of my boundaries as I hate talking to people and I didn’t know how to work in a team. Then I realized I was around other people who were the same in some ways, and even though I was uncomfortable I was accomplishing something and that made me feel proud of myself. Because I was proud of myself I had a more positive perspective of school, and I thought it wasn’t so awful. HOL gave me something to look forward to, and I felt more inclined to do work.
How has Hands On Learning changed what you think about school?
School itself isn’t so bad now because I realise I don’t need to worry what people think about me, if it’s someone I don’t care about. For example, I don’t care so much what bullies in my class last year think or say anymore. I feel like I try a lot harder for people that matter to me, I only care about opinions that matter, and whenever I do something in HOL it feels like it has meaning to it.
What would your ideal school be like?
I’d like students to be able to be more independent and have the choice to work in their desired environment with the people they want to as well. They’d feel more included if they had the opportunity to work with people with the same passions, HOL gives me those experiences.
I don’t think we really need a whole school that does that, as it’s not for everyone and everyone learns in different ways. The more analytical people work well in the classroom, but I have no relation with the teacher in the classroom and I don’t see the point in being there. When they’re explaining something it just goes in one ear and out the other. It’s just a lot of noisy people which I can find overwhelming and means I can’t focus, whereas when I’m in HOL I feel listened to and they're able to explain what I'm learning more effectively. In a normal class, I don’t feel I’m listened to or if I am it's not until the end of the lesson and then I don’t get the help I need. It doesn’t matter how many times the teacher explains things, it’s the way they say it. Being in HOL seems to make things so much clearer.
Find out more about Hands On Learning and how they're helping kids who otherwise may be excluded from traditional education on their project page or watch the video below about their work as part of our Spotlight on Victoria, Australia!