Active Vs Passive Learning: Which is Best?

Active Vs Passive Learning Which is Best

If you are a parent and your child is almost ready to start school, you will be thinking about what type of education you should choose. You may have heard the terms ‘active & passive learning’ and wondered if you fully understand the difference; in this short article, we highlight the differences between these two types of education.

What is Active Learning?

There are numerous terms to describe active learning; learning by doing and experiential learning are used in education circles. Simply put, it is the learner, not the teacher, who is at the centre of the process, therefore the learner must be interested in the subject matter. Playing an active role in the learning process demands a special learning environment, with the teacher playing the role of facilitator, guiding the students rather than teaching them. The first educator to discover that children learn best by being actively involved, Rudolph Steiner developed an active curriculum and this led to Waldorf Schools, which practice active learning via a project-based approach. The best international school in Thailand would have an active learning system in place and with UK teachers guiding the students, a high standard is achieved. Academic excellence ensures the students go on to the university of their choosing and they become well-balanced adults with a comprehensive skillset.

What is Passive Learning?

The word ‘passive’ means to have little interaction; the learner sits and looks at the whiteboard, listening to the teacher and the aim is to remember as much information as possible, making notes along the way. The British education system in the 1950s was a classic example of passive learning; students sat in rows with a desk and the teacher stood (or sat) at the front of the class and disseminated knowledge. Passive is the right word to use, as the learner doesn’t have to do anything, other than memorise the content; rote learning was standard, with children memorising the times table. This type of education leaves a lot to be desired; it does not develop critical thinking or problem-solving, while creativity is suppressed. Students getting ready for a college exam would revise for hours, trying to remember every detail, which might come up in the test. The 1960s saw a change in state education and we began to shift to a learner-centred approach, basing everything around the student.

Project Based Learning

Rather than learn in subject periods like Math, Science and biology, the students form small groups, with each group choosing a topic to base a project on. The group might wish to learn about farming, for example, using the Internet, the students search for the information they need; Project based learning teaches kids how to delegate and work toward a common goal, which is to present their findings to the class. Of course, the project would include a day trip to a farm and the kids would have lists of learning objectives.

If you are looking for an active learning school, the best international school in Bangkok would be a good place to start. The British National Curriculum is delivered by UK teachers who fully understand active learning, making sure that your kids get the best possible start in life.


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