Project Based Learning – Some Day all Schools Will Teach This way

– Zukisani Ndingaye, Head of Brand: Sifiso Learning Group

As a new addition to the Future Nation Team, I must say that Project Based Learning was one form of teaching that I didn’t understand but for some reason, I was excited about it. I had so many questions and wanted so many answers.

What is Project Based Learning? What do you mean the teacher doesn’t teach? Or do they teach differently? Are we not regurgitating chapters 1 to 3 that we had to read last night for English class this morning?

These are just a few of the questions I had for Future Nation Schools and what their plan was to convince the world that PBL was here for the good of education and the African child who has big aspirations.

When it was first explained to me, it seemed like the teacher had no role in the process, their job was to facilitate and watch the child do everything. Then why did we need teachers? Can’t you do this from home and stop attending school entirely?

Boy was I wrong, PBL is much more student focussed and it answers a simple question that all parents and students have… How do I use this in the real world?
This is a key question and I think Project Based Learning offers a key role in crafting traditional subjects into everyday workable examples that add real value and bring the relevance we may have been missing.

Look, whether you are a new parent, employee or student – you need to understand the fundamental decision that you are making by committing your child’s future to an entirely new concept of learning. This is not an ‘easy purchase’ decision as they say in marketing. Buying a can of cool drink is much easier than deciding which school to send your child to.
That being said, what is this PBL that is being hummed in classrooms across Gauteng and quietly starting a revolution?

Project Based Learning refers to students learning their grade-level content and skills through designing, planning and carrying out extended projects that produce publicly exhibited output such as products, publications or presentations.

Project Based Learning allows children to answer the question: How will I use this in the real world?
It also allows them to use what they are learning in the classroom to solve problems that they see in and around their own communities. Project Based Learning creates a new position and role for the teacher, allowing them to facilitate learning and co-create the learning experience with students rather than for students. Children have a wealth of knowledge and have access to information at the mere touch of a button – a far cry from what any other generation before has ever experienced. They learn best when they are engaged by content that excites them and teaches them new things. Teachers, through Project Based Learning are also able to find and explore new ways of teaching through designing projects for their students in a way that ignites a shared passion for learning in both students and teachers.

The use of Project Based Learning also allows for the development of a wide range of skills, such as time management, collaboration, and problem solving – all skills which students will need at college, university and in the workplace. It also means that learning can be better tailored to suit students with a wide range of abilities and learning needs.
A distinctive feature of Project Based Learning is the publicly exhibited output. By incorporating public exhibition of the projects created by students, parents see first-hand what their children are learning, it motivates the children and teachers to see the output of their learning process. Projects serve as physical reminders of their achievements and development that is not hidden away in a drawer or storeroom.

Now that I have drawn a breath of confidence, I am excited by PBL and when I have my own children, I will definitely try out this new way of learning.

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