How College Professor Marco Benassi is Changing Lives with Experiential Learning

For Marco Benassi, taking his speech students canoeing is all part of helping them study communication. Photo courtesy of Marco Benassi.

For Marco Benassi, taking his speech students canoeing is all part of helping them study communication. Photo courtesy of Marco Benassi.

Shouldn’t all learning be an experience?

College of DuPage professor Marco Benassi doesn't just think this is true — he knows it, thanks to his decades of fearless teaching experience as well as a pivotal early encounter with a remarkable teacher. That experience helped reinvent Marco's own understanding of what a classroom can be.

I’m proud to say that Marco is not only an award-winning teacher but also my friend. We taught together at the College of DuPage until the adjunct salary no longer made the rent and he was hired full time. But both of us were touched by the mentorship of teacher and spirit guide Frank Tourangeau, who Marco talks about in the College of DuPage newspaper article linked below.

And it's so appropriate and telling that Marco's talent for bringing students to another level is wonderfully encapsulated in an article written by one of his own former students, who is now a budding journalist.

Marco, much like Frank did, offers every student a life-altering experience — and he was doing it long before educational buzzphrases and mounds of research started popping up to support this approach. Think problem-based learning, social-emotional learning, and yes, experiential learning.

Marco and I taught together at COD and while I don’t have his pedigree or awards, I think he’d agree that our passion for rethinking and shaking up our own classrooms came from the teachers we never had as well as a few truly great ones we were lucky to stumble upon. (The "lucky to stumble upon" matter is a problem for another post.)

Click to read the full article about Marco in the COD Courier

Click to read the full article about Marco in the COD Courier

Before you click on the link to read the article, let me offer one last thing: this article is a must-read for anyone who understands the insane contradictions that students of every age face. We clamor and demand for collaborators, self-starters, and entrepreneurs while telling students to sit down, shut up, and take the test.

In short, sitting down and studying even with the greatest teachers isn’t as profound as experiencing what you're learning.

So if you or someone you love are a college student painfully stuck in some classroom, taking notes just so they can be automatically regurgitated on a multiple-choice test, I encourage you not to give up hope but to look for liberation — by seeking out an educational model like the one Mr. Benassi offers. A learning challenge that dares to explores more than tell, and provides as many questions as it does answers.

Links:

Education, Tim's FavesTim Clue