Phenomenon-based learning

Phenomenon-Based Learning

It’s no secret that the modern day education system desperately needs to be reformed. Children post passing schools do not understand how to cook their own food, pay their taxes, or accomplish many every day, “real world” activities.

The education system’s sole purpose should be to educate us in order to better the society and ourselves but instead, it just tells us what to think (rather than how to think). Consequently, we learn only how to assimilate and blend into society. We need a shift from the present system to a “phenomenon-based learning” system, allowing students to enrich the standard subjects with experiences of more holistic, and interdisciplinary learning.

What Is Phenomenon-Based Learning?

Phenomenon-based learning takes a very different approach to education, dropping the classic divide amongst subjects like math and science. Instead, students take one particular phenomenon or concept and look at it through multiple lenses, applying it to whatever subjects pertain to it such as geography, history, or economics.

Phenomenon-based teaching and learning use the natural curiosity of children to learn in a holistic and authentic context. Holistic real-world phenomena provide the motivating starting point for learning, instead of traditional school subjects. The phenomena are studied as holistic entities, in their real context, and the information and skills related to them are studied by crossing the boundaries between subjects. Human, media, technology, water or energy is phenomena, which enables students to learn 21st-century skills like critical thinking, creativity, innovation, teamwork and communication.

So, students would no longer study just one subject like physics, but a whole range of subjects that relate to one topic, taking a more interdisciplinary approach. For example, students could look at the Functional System which could then incorporate languages, economics, history, and geography, and then they could look at climate change the following week, which might involve science, environmental studies, economics, and policy.

The teacher-student relationship will also change fairly dramatically, as students will take a combination of online, in-class and out-class courses. The dialogue between students, peers, and teachers will also shift, as students will be encouraged to speak more openly and share information from diverse perspectives. The structure will be less hierarchical and more of a team-based setting, greatly differing from the classic “teacher instructs student” mentality. Plus, it won’t be just the teachers designing the lesson plans and assessing what students have learned, as the students will also play an active role in establishing them. This will hopefully engage students more and shift them from focusing only on traditional written exams. The National Curriculum Framework (NCF) now incorporates phenomenon-based learning and encourages an interdisciplinary approach to teaching.

Why Is This Important?

Many children don’t have a perfect “family life,” so they learn through their experiences outside the home or by themselves. This is why the argument that “children don’t need to be taught practical subjects in school” is so flawed. The education system is supposed to represent the entirety of what we want children — who represent our future — to learn. So why would we feed them with propaganda and teach them that there’s only one way to think, one way to feel, and one way to determine intelligence?

There is no one-way of determining intellect because we are all unique in our own way. That’s the beauty of duality; our differences are our strengths, and we don’t have to suppress them in order to conform to society. The public education system should embrace this and teachers should educate their students from the heart and in their own unique way!


Decentralization and phenomenon-based learning can be useful. It inspires a more collaborative environment and allows students and teachers to connect in a way that division and hierarchy prevent them from doing. Perhaps through this new system, teachers will recognize that they can learn just as much from their students as their students can learn from them.


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