Types of Experience

We should all think about all the different ways we experience things within ourselves and around ourselves. Decades of teaching people about engagement has taught me there are different ways we experience the world. These types of experiences should be clarified before we talk about engagement specifically. They are: 

  • Awareness
  • Observation
  • Participation
  • Involvement
  • Engagement

Types of Experience


I am a science dabbler, and one of the things I like to read about is Antarctica. I’m going to use that interest to illustrate different types of experience. The most basic way to experience anything is through awareness, which is to understand something exists. Employing our mind, most of us are aware Antarctica exists and that is the extent of our experience with it. There are those who take that a step further towards observation. When we watch a documentary about the frozen continent, we’re experiencing it differently than just awareness. Now we are observing it using one of our senses.

From there, experience tilts towards interaction. If our interest is piqued, we might become involved with Antarctica, moving towards participation. This might mean that we begin to study Antarctica, reading Wikipedia, watching videos, or looking at the library to see what we can learn. Then we decide our interest in Antarctica has taken a turn towards fascination, and we want to do something. Doing something is involvement, which is any form of physical interaction with or within a specific location, person, idea, or action. We become involved in Antarctica by deciding to volunteer to watch science observation cameras focused on a flock of penguins and report what we see. However, while we’re watching we begin to see the impact of humankind on this wild and rare population, and decide to go a step further through engagement.

Learn more about engagement through this blog, and so much more of my work.
Written by Adam Fletcher, this article was originally posted to http://commonaction.blogspot.com. Learn more at adamfletcher.net!

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