Sean Alisea Urges Students to Participate in Experiential Learning

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Experiential learning is becoming an increasingly popular educational model, particularly in fields such as environmental studies and the sciences. This trend has won the endorsement of educational advocates like Sean Alisea.

While experiential learning is not a new concept, it is increasingly popular. The notion that students learn best by doing, not just hearing or reading, is a familiar one to educators. As many of them have sought to provide students with new learning models, hands-on, experiential processes have come to the fore. A recent Scientific American article highlights this trend in education, singling out the underwater diving courses offered to Environmental Studies students at USC; the article, and the programs it highlights, have won the favor of such educational advocates as Sean Alisea.

Sean Alisea is both an enthusiast of outdoor adventure—including scuba diving—and education. He previously served as an adult literacy tutor in Baltimore, currently educates kids in the Santa Barbara area, and remains a committed spokesman on behalf of alternative education models. According to a press statement from Alisea, the kinds of programs cited in the Scientific American article provide opportunities no young person should pass up.

“The oceans are the last great frontier of human exploration on Earth,” writes Alisea, addressing students who might be on the fence about experiential education opportunities. “Terrestrial-bound Earthlings are simply not experiencing the full splendor of this blue planet.”

Alisea continues by explaining the impact that early experiential education opportunities had on him. “You can look at a picture of a reef and remark on its beauty; however, the experience of drifting in clear open water, amidst the color and activity of a live reef environment, is almost mystical,” he comments. “If you are able to get certified and experience the weightless joy of underwater exploration, then I highly recommend you try it.”

Sean Alisea is not the only one to affirm the importance of experiential education. Scientific American suggests that it is “vital to academic life.” The article’s premise is largely the same as that offered by Alisea. It claims that experiential education simply offers a greater understanding of the natural world, including the complexity of different ecosystems, than classroom learning can provide.

The article ultimately praises academic institutions that offer college credits for activities like scuba diving. “No matter how many lectures students attend on marine biology, they will never fully appreciate the scope of underwater environments until they have the chance to see and swim with them, an immersive experience if you will,” writes the Scientific American journalist.

The article praises experiential education for providing opportunities for “hands-on education, independent decision making, and personal reflection after handling new challenges,” opportunities that are difficult to come by in traditional classroom environments.


Sean Alisea is an outspoken advocate for alternative and experiential learning models. He lives and works in Santa Barbara, California, and is a tutor at the Santa Barbara School of Squash, an educational outreach program aimed at urban youth. Alisea is also an avid outdoor enthusiast, and is vocal in his love for hiking, backpacking, and scuba diving. Previously, he provided adult literacy training in the Baltimore area.

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Michael McGarety
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