Problem Based Learning

You don’t have to wait to grow up before you can apply your mind to real-world problems and challenges. Will students in such an environment lack motivation or question the relevance of what they’re learning?

This is development of real world skills in a real world context, whilst as a by-product the children just happen to acquire masses of knowledge (which they retain better because of the high levels of motivation, the relevance, the emotional engagement and the connectedness of what they're learning.

For teachers who want to start thinking about how to build more problem based learning in to their repertoire, here's a starting point from Edutopia;

Edutopia - Solving Real-World Issues Through Problem Based Learning

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Educate The Whole Child – School 21

Educators, we can all raise the bar. Ask every day - where's the WOW?

Things Teachers Do

Here’s an interesting blog post that i came across quite some time ago, that I share here because i found it particularly intriguing;

Edutopia – What Doesn’t Work – Literacy Practices We Should Abandon

The writer makes a number of suggestions where practices have gone on for a very long time, passed down from teachers to new teachers and carried out without question, but where there’s evidence that shows and suggests strongly that the practices really don’t work.

Perhaps the one that stood out most for me was the weekly spelling tests – consuming enormous amounts of time. As an aside, through my own learning from NLP, when he was about six i taught my son how to spell by getting visual recall pictures of words in his head. The result – he never dropped a single mark on spelling tests and barely spent any time preparing for them. But still, what a silly waste of time for him and all the other children in class.

The point about withdrawing recess as a form of punishment also struck a chord with me. In similar vein I also get troubled when children lose access to some of their favourite learning periods such as art, music, drama or PE in order to undergo remedial classes because they’re not making the desired levels of progress in ‘core’ subjects.

If i take issue with one aspect of the article it is the sense it conveys that teachers and children have no time to ‘just pass time and learn’, but must always be on a quest to save a vital few minutes to cram in yet more learning (slaves to the standardised tests systems). It almost seemed like it wanted to see the ‘time and motion’ men of the 1970’s workplaces with their stopwatches timing how long people take for their washroom breaks so that they can squeeze out a tiny fraction more of productivity.

Sometimes, it makes sense to not do things that don’t contribute in the classroom, so there’s more time to do other things – but not because we’re hellbent on delivering ever more bloated syllabus to stressed out learning-weary children.

Sometimes, some of the best learning happens at its own pace, and we shouldn’t forget it.