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Experiential Learning for Teenagers

Two months of summer holidays can be a blessing and a curse if one is not suitably engaged. This is especially true for teenagers during long summer breaks, the result I believe of there not being enough programs or courses with meaningful content for this segment. So, while there are camps where they can play different indoor sports with others their age and coding classes in Python and Java, there aren’t too many camps which offer varied intellectual stimulation to those kids whose interests don’t lie in sports or coding. The focus on creating varied type of summer camps appears to be almost exclusively on younger kids, under the age of 12, whose parents are keener on keeping them busy especially for those who are working. I believe that there exists a captive market of 13 to 18-year-olds, that can be tapped during summer through courses and programs that can provide exposure and expertise on topics that are outside the regular school curriculum but help prepare kids for the future.

Other countries, especially in the West, seem to have understood that jobs and careers of the future would require a completely different skill set, knowledge base and abilities to succeed, and use the long summer break to maximum effect. In the US, schools create specialized summer courses with ‘advanced content’, preparing older teenagers for college. Most schools and universities also run courses for middle school students in STEM based subjects, Business Studies, Psychology, Art & Design, Drama & Film Making. 

We are yet to see this kind of focus in our part of the world.

Which is not to say, that there are no options at all. I found a really interesting program for my 14-year-old; this was the ‘Early Leaders’ Program by Leadearly, a 4-day course this summer, that introduced him to Business Simulations, Case studies, Finance Career options, Brand Management etc. It was completely different from his school curriculum and also provided exposure to concepts such as Networking and Negotiations. He came back completely charged-up and displaying a keen interest in studying Business and Economics, subjects he hadn’t even considered earlier, for his GCSEs. Following on from this, he did a course called ‘Early Careers’ which taught him resume-building skills, how to prepare for and handle tough interview questions, presentation skills and the art of prioritizing tasks at the workplace. 

An exposure to different concepts and subjects through experiential learning will help students develop a sense of how to apply what they’ve learned at school in the real world and help them decide their subject choices more confidently for GCSEs/A Levels which will then lead to deciding which career is the best-fit for them. 

Before educational consultants and school counsellors’ step into help with university applications, we should have schools stepping in at an earlier stage to provide these programs either independently or through partnerships with specialists (in different academic fields), with the objective of helping kids understand themselves better, identify their interests and make informed choices so that they are well equipped for the challenges of the workplace of the future.

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