To analyze the most effective secondary school structure, we walk into a kindergarten classroom during playtime. Over in one corner, a boy is building a house out of legos. His eyes light up as he finishes the last piece of the roof and marvels at how he included windows and a doorway in his creation.

Look over on the other side of the room, and we see a little girl doing watercoloring. In awe, the greens, blues, and pinks are fusing together as she plunges her brush in the water cup and paints her picture. This creativity and passion to learn new things diminishes as children advance in their education. Those two kindergarteners love going to school. Subsequently, years later in middle school, they will dread getting algebra assignments and reading classic literature just waiting for the moment they can go to lunch to talk with their friends. In high school then in college, the trend continues and becomes more and more drastic as the years untwine. Getting an education is seen in America as an unpleasant task to grind out in order to reap the benefits, but it doesn’t have to be so grueling.

Students in the past and in the present day are all delivered the same traditional style of teaching. They are given information to process and memorize, then will be assessed on said topic within a respectable amount of days. Unfortunately, this cycle ends in students not genuinely learning subjects taught and cutting every corner possible just to get a good grade. Learning material in order to further your acquisition of knowledge, pursue passions, and reach lofty cognitive function is put on the back burner, so students’ parents and coaches aren’t disappointed in them. In order to prevent the joy of learning being sucked out of education, experts have developed ways through project-based learning that could solve these problems. Some find that project-based learning systems are too specialized and hard to gather quantitative data in order to accurately rank students correctly; however, there are ways claiming there is, in fact, no need to rank students based off of a single test score and how high their GPA is. They claim this style can be chaotic and would not work on a large scale like traditional learning has “proven” to. Exploring said negatives uncovers problems to refine in project-based learning with the hopes of making the most efficient and well-rounded way to educate children possible. Project-based learning is the future of education and will help advance our technology and society through students maximizing their individualized full potential.362-[Converted]The image of seeing potential in children early on where they are ecstatic to learn new things is something that can be translated in a more advanced way to apply to older students. If these passions were continually encouraged throughout a child’s schooling, they not only would grow in their general education, but also in personality and social skills. Creativity explains the way someone expresses himself. It develops confidence, strengths, and one’s talents, peaks in collaboration skills are seen, allows for problem-solving skills to flourish, and most important in a school environment: encourages intrinsic motivation. This means students learn to participate for internal satisfaction, not an external classification. Unfortunately, creativity is something that has been lost through a child’s education. Ken Robinson- a passionate advisor on many education boards, author of a handful of books, and a TED speaker at a conference – analyzes the belief that schools are killing students’ creativity. At one point he claims “I want to talk about education and I want to talk about creativity. My contention is that creativity now is as important in education as literacy, and we should treat it with the same status”. This is a powerful sentence claiming that schools need to adjust to the ways of society and include the student as a whole, instead of just their intelligence.

Project-based learning aims to protect students’ abilities to express creativity and freedom to learn through raw, applicable, engaging and intricate situations. In Tilchin, Oleg and Mohamed Kittany, a group of experts on the subject’s words, “The student-centered characteristic implies students’ independence in learning by doing, combining individual and collaborative learning, encouraging critical thinking, monitoring existing student knowledge both the instructor and the students, and adaptability to each student.” When they explain it, it seems like a very complex process, and it is- but the key factor is not the complexity, but the natural feel of learning that is enhanced.Teachers prepare a project that allows their students to tackle key skills in an independent way. Answers are not handed to students so easily as done in the traditional learning style; instead, they have to discover their own answers. This concept alone propels people to actually learn the material. Students would first glance at this process as unappealing because it requires an increase in work and discipline, where shortcuts cannot be taken so easily. However, the way the material is panned out is what makes this concept not only bearable but furthermore, truly enjoyable. For example, designing robotics, testing your peers’ lung capacities, conducting a business plan then taking it a step further and making said business a reality, or inventing an alert system to contain diseases are all projects that require many different areas of standard learning checkpoints; yet the difference being they achieve said goals in a strategically entertaining way. The more this concept is applied, the more interested students will become, and the more they will absorb information. The typical test format is no longer as common, but reflection is still important. This becomes an obstacle because of societal test score expectations through the ACT and SAT. Disregarding this, however, reflection is crucial because it rounds out what the students have learned and proves to themselves why the project benefitted them. Students must learn to have open minds to concepts in play so that they accept the skills they have learned whether it is a simple collaboration with others, or applying basic math techniques to life. One principle schools tend to have trouble letting go of is about students freedom in what they learn and the deadlines given to get assignments done. In order to unchain student’s creativity, they need the opportunity to create self-discipline, concentration and be resourceful. If these are given from an early age, the trust established will show through as children get older and advance into secondary school. Not only has project-based learning been shown useful by educators, but also by psychology. In Introduction to Project Based Learning,

Research shows that learners not only respond by feeding back information, but they also actively use what they know to explore, negotiate, interpret, and create. They construct solutions, thus shifting the emphasis toward the process of learning. In addition, cognitive research has revealed much more about the nature of problem-solving. Education has benefited from this research, as teachers have learned how to effectively scaffold content and activities to amplify and extend the skills and capabilities of students.

The author of this guide to informing teachers about the system shows that with a certain strategy, parts of the brain can be amplified to perform at a higher rate.365-[Converted]Project-based learning can help when only slightly integrated, but to see optimal results, it is encouraged to switch over the whole system. So not simply incorporating more posters instead of papers, and reenacting scenes instead of just reading them; but rather replacing all concepts with a different way of teaching to fully submerge students into those subject matters at hand. A prime overarching example of project-based learning is the Business Horizons Program.

Business Horizons will come into a school aiming to have students find value in the world of business through real life actions. They divide high-schoolers into teams who are given the task to create an invention for a target audience. Throughout the week, students are able to apply knowledge in the classroom setting into real-world experiences. They learn varied skills including finance, design, marketing, and engineering a quality product. No matter what career interest a student possesses, they can find a way to contribute their talents to the process of creating a business as well as develop other skills. Students immersed in project-based learning have been shown to succeed whether they find math, science, literature, language, or history more interesting. Every subject can be integrated and improved through this model.

When those who think logic outweighs the slightly risky yet highly beneficial switch, school officials and parents tend to play it safe and not take that leap of a concept that is not familiar but has a lot of potentials. Those opposing project-based learning bring up very real arguments questioning how it is set up, but solutions to those concerns can be created. One concern people tend to have is trusting teachers to develop full-bodied problems for their students. Certain questions can consist of many different answers which can create confusing direction in where students should direct their answers. The solution to this problem is to start out with training teachers thoroughly in strategies to create the most effective projects. Teachers are instructed to give guidelines to follow and lead them in the right direction without giving direct answers for students to copy down. A company called Manor New Tech works through school systems to give services and support to help transform learning through the project- based learning. They believe that when well implemented, results are shown like in the graph to the left. Vega). An example of a situation to dive into a student’s brain would be the project given of developing a practical response plan to an asteroid colliding with Earth. Students could take this concept in completely different and absurd directions. Unless the teacher gives creative boundaries to steer them in the correct way (Pascual). Such as said asteroid affects specific areas of the Earth, and given areas of the governmental, environmental, and societal systems need assistance to regain strength. Another problem that arises, is whether or not students maintain a skill over a period of time, such as the Pythagorean Theorem and memorizing the Periodic Table. The beauty in project-based learning is that students latch on to ideas and concepts that will prove useful in the real world, and only briefly touch on those which they will never cease to use again once they finish their last year of college at most unless used more commonly in a specific degree.359-[Converted]Project-based learning is a system being developed that will aid our society through students reaching optimal overall knowledge capacity who are the future of this world. After dissecting all aspects of how humans learn, what is most important for students to focus on, and how creativity does not have to be stunted in school, we are taken back to the image of the kindergarteners in their classroom. Although allowing high schoolers to finger paint and play with blocks all day would seem quite inappropriate, we can take the same core idea behind why teachers allow four-year-olds to do such actions and progress it to apply in a more complex way in secondary school. Those four-year-olds who seem to be doing silly crafts to keep themselves occupied are really developing abstract imaginations and experimenting with certain subject matters that they like or dislike. As they grow older, that appetite and fire for learning leave their eyes. They learn to dread waking up at 7:00 to go listen to teachers lecture for hours at a time. This passion driven concept doesn’t have to fade away – schools can transform to project – based learning in order to help their students grow into the best versions of themselves that traditional schooling could not get close to producing.

Lily Barber

Gilbert High School
Teaching Methods: Multifaceted Projects as Central Strategies for Education

Also published on Medium.

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