Does academic study have meaning without experience?

Experience does add meaning and purpose to academic studies.


It is incredibly important for us to create ways in which students can connect their academic learning to real life situations. Some sort of “experiential learning” is essential for this. Bemidji State University has developed a teacher training programme in which distance students are required to do service in the community that is related to the subjects they are doing.

While we at Cornerstone Institute require certain practical modules, we do not require a practical/service aspect within each and every module. Bemidji State University has had amazing results through requiring a service aspect from students’ second semester of study, right through to the end of studies.

We may not want to require students, for every module, to do some sort of service within their communities. We do need to make sure that there is a bridge between studies and real life. We need to ensure that students are applying what they learn in real world, every day, often mundane situations.

Some things to consider:

  • Service allows students to apply what they are learning to things that are important to them.
  • Service give an opportunity for students to explore calling/vocation.
  • Service creates future connections between students and community organisations.
  • Reflection on experience gives students opportunity to incorporate what they have learnt into a new understanding of who they are in relation to academics and their world.

Some questions:

  • How can we ground our academic content in concrete experiences of life?
  • How can we encourage reflection on that experience?
  • How can we facilitate opportunities for students to apply our theory to things that are important to them, to their life, and to their community? 

See this article for a deeper reading:


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