As a teacher, we know that you’re almost certainly sick and tired of changes to the curriculum and constantly being told how you should be (or shouldn’t be) teaching things. With each new government seemingly having a new ‘vision’ for education that largely seems to involve changing everything changes sake, it unfortunately leads to some potentially innovative teaching methods and practices being sidelined. One of these is PBL, Project Based Learning.
What Is Project Based Learning?
Project Based Learning is essentially learning through a project (or projects) that encompass curriculum subjects working together rather than being taught these subjects in isolation. Project Based Learning is about learning in a more real-life style environment and at the root of it lies active rather than passive learning. There is an emphasis on high quality work and children being helped to find the best within themselves. One of its main aims is to retain a child’s natural curiosity and ability for divergent thinking that all children are born with.
Sonia Edwards, a specialist STEM teacher, advocate of Project Based Learning recently talked to the Lancashire Evening Telegraph about a new school in Lancashire she intends to open that will be entirely built upon a Project Based Learning basis.
“The traditional education system with its focus on exams does not work for every child. The school will offer project based learning where students engage with their own learning process, outdoor education, workshops with a wide range of industry professionals and an innovative programme of work experience.”
Why Is Project Based Learning Good? Are There Any Criticisms?
According to advocates of Project Based Learning, there is a wealth of research in both the UK and the United States of America that shows Project Based Learning leads to extraordinary results in the schools that it has been deployed in, from young children to high school pupils. Pupils with SEN (Special Educational Needs) take on roles that are never normally assigned to them and grow in understanding, confidence and responsibility. Gifted and talented children on the other hand often extend beyond their years and flourish. The children in the middle too are well catered for by Project Based Learning say its advocates and say that this often ‘forgotten’ group find themselves challenged more and motivated more to produce outstanding and improved results.
There are some criticisms of Project Based Learning in schools however. One concern is that PBL may not be the best way to teach maths as it is a primarily skill based subject. By transforming the entire curriculum and combining all subjects into a series of projects or one big project prevents the necessary practice of particular maths skills such as factoring quadratic equations that are best taught by understanding followed by extensive repetition. Another criticism is that there is a risk that the creation of a final product to the at the end of the project may become the driving force in the activities which could lead to pupils losing focus on the content of the project(s) itself.
Does your school utilise Project Based Learning? If not, do you think it should? We’d love to hear your thoughts on the issue.