An experience-centred curriculum “gives rich and varied experience of knowledge, skills, attitudes and appreciation.” It means a series of educative experiences which grow out of pupil’s needs, interests and purposes. Experience is the end product of activity. An individual is active throughout his life as he is always to respond to various stimuli in his physical and social environment. We are, all the time, making adjustments in our environment. In the process of interaction, we gain experiences.
In the words of John Dewey “Experience is a matter of the interaction of organism with its environment, an environment that is human as well as physical, that includes the materials of tradition and institution as well as local surrounding.” As we gain an .experience as a result of interaction, we conduct further activities in the light of our previous experience and so on. William James says, “the only function that one experience can perform is to lead into another experience; and the only fulfilment we can speak of is the reaching of certain experienced end.”
Education is the continuous reorganisation and reconstruction of experiences. So we may define experience curriculum as “the curriculum that consists of all the experiences that the child has irrespective of their character of when or where they take place.” At first, we take into account the experiences of the child. On the basis of these experiences, some new problems, activities or projects are planned.
These provide him more experiences and enrich his previous knowledge or experiences. In this way, experience curriculum is ever developing. The experiences are planned by taking activities or problems from real life and related to the interests and needs of children. Therefore, the experiences are purposeful. These are planned jointly by the teachers and the students. These should be in tune with the growth and development of the child.
Type of Experiences
The experience curriculum provides varied experiences to the pupils in the class, in the school and even outside the school. The experiences are of two types-direct and indirect.
(a) Direct Experiences. Direct experiences are obtained when the child is face to face with a situation or when he is in direct contact with reality. For example, working on the school farm or workshop, performing experiments in science laboratory, field trips all provide direct experiences. Such experiences provide first-hand knowledge. But such experiences are sometimes not possible or desirable.
(6) Indirect Experiences. These experiences are acquired through some medium e.g. through text-books, radio broadcasts etc. Even knowledge of new topics can be provided through such experiences.
Direct and indirect experiences are complementary. Direct experiences give a real touch to the indirect experience whereas indirect experiences supply the detailed knowledge not available through direct experiences.