“If we teach today’s student as we taught yesterday, we rob them of tomorrow.”
The late 1800s witnessed a revival of the age-old concept of “learning by doing” through the introduction of PBL or Project-Based Learning. Promoted to uplift the existing educational structure, PBL held the elements of creativity and pragmatism at its core. This system aims at educating children through engaging and enriching projects. It was juxtaposed to the conventional method of education which relied heavily on theoretical approach and memorization of facts. The man behind this concept, John Dewey, was of the opinion that the responsibility of a teacher is not solely limited to enforcing facts and information on the students. He/she must be able to facilitate real-learning which is only possible when students are thoroughly engaged and involved with the learning process by doing things. Projects, as a means of education, blend in multi-disciplinary elements and provide an interesting challenge to the learner.
Such a format of education is more or less student-centric. Within this structure, students are assigned to different projects, each requiring creative thinking and problem-solving skills. Examples of such projects could include teaching about fractions and percents through cooking different dishes or asking students to write slam poetries. Through such an integrated approach, the teachers make students more enthusiastic about learning. Students are able to comprehend the larger implications of concepts studied in schools. More importantly, they are able to apply textbook concepts to real-life puzzles and observe the results. Most of these projects involve children working in teams, which instils the qualities of team-work and unity right from their childhood.
Children are curious by nature. They ask questions which often befuddles adults. The traditional system of education suppresses this virtue by outwardly disregarding any question going beyond the curriculum. PBL does just the opposite. It invites inquisitiveness and encourages students to question more. Through these activities, students are forced to ponder over topics and explore the subject matter with an investigative mind. PBL brings a young mind out of the realm of dusty textbooks and workbooks and pushes him/her to explore uncharted territories. It empowers a child with knowledge which is not acquired for the sole purpose of getting grades, but for the thirst for it. When students are able to relate classroom concepts to real-world scenarios it helps them understand and appreciate the subject more.
The critics of PBL often blame the system for reducing the role of the teacher. In reality, PBL requires just as many efforts from the teachers as it does from the students. The teacher has to be critically involved in designing a project-based curriculum. They have to identify the key areas which can serve as good project ideas. In addition to these, the teacher must be able to facilitate different groups working on these prompts and be there to explain them the relevance and big-picture view of each project.
The collaborative efforts of students through PBL, thus, spawn future leaders, thinkers, and experts who have a better grasp of reality.