December 3, 2023

Experiential learning should be attainable for all students

Tim Hand is chief of staff at Las Cruces Public Schools. In 2016, when this photo was taken, he was a district administrator as well as the tennis coach at Centennial High School.

As Ralph Ramos completes his first few months as superintendent of Las Cruces Public Schools, urgency is in the air. On the heels of a pandemic that tested the will of each of us, we are presented with a once in a generation opportunity to rebuild our education ecosystem the way that it should be, rather than trying to simply put the pieces back together. Superintendent Ramos has identified several key strategies that will be the starting point for this transformation and an influx of federal funds paired with substantial investments by the state of New Mexico over the last few years sets the stage for success. 

One key evidence-rich strategy is experiential learning. Human beings learn by doing, through trial and error. Public education for a century focused on knowledge transfer because we didn’t have direct access to every fact and figure in our pockets as we do today. The way we fund schools still mostly aligns with this outdated model. You don’t often see students out fundraising for spelling tests or history lectures but when it comes to participating in band, traveling to robotics competitions, or showing livestock at the state fair, we rely on popcorn sales and car washes to fund these activities.