Many years ago, classrooms were rigid, regimented places. A teacher stood up front, delivering monologs that described concepts and ideas. Students learned by rote, and repeated what they learned like trained parrots. Those who repeated things best were the most successful students, but they didn’t always understand the topics they were learning by rote. That’s probably why some of the greatest minds in the world (including Einstein) were considered slow while they were in school!
Thank goodness things have changed. As a result of educational advances like project-based learning, kids are developing insight and understanding rather than just memorizing words.
What Is Project-Based Learning?
As the name suggests, project-based learning (or PBL as it is sometimes called) is a method of teaching that involves doing rather than simply listening.
Teachers and educators devise age-appropriate, topic-specific projects that can be carried out in a classroom setting. Students are then given the opportunity to make, build, experiment or create something.
This type of hands-on learning has been proven to increase understanding and retention, and gives children the tools to really understand and have insight into complex topics. It’s not only better for keeping bright minds occupied, it’s also much more fun for everyone, and when you’re a kid, that’s the best way to learn!
What Can Kids Learn Through PBL?
Project-based learning is an adaptable system of teaching, which can be used to teach almost any topic. It is especially suited to STEM topics and other complex areas of study, however, it could be used in almost any classroom setting to enhance understanding and get kids excited about learning. Some ideas might include:
- Having students write, cast and perform a play in a language study class.
- Building popsicle bridges and finding out which designs hold the most weight in a science or math class.
- Building an abacus and using it to calculate in math class.
Why PBL Works
Project-based learning works better than the old methods of teaching simply because kids enjoy it more. When children can touch, smell, experiment and get their hands dirty, they are more inclined to explore new ideas, and they tend to remember what they have learned in greater detail. There is proof that this type of learning improves information retention, but also helps children to understand complex topics and apply new skills to other problems.
Project Based Learning and STEM
Science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) include some of the more complex ideas and subjects for students to understand, at least initially. Project-based learning helps to make these often abstract ideas behind these topics more accessible to children. It also makes it more fun to explore these topics, and when something is fun like our 3D Game Design with Minecraft, children are more likely to devote their time and full attention to it.
Chances are, if you live in the developed world, your children are already using PBL training methods in their classroom, but the more you can make complex ideas real for children, the better. Never miss an opportunity to show your children how things work, because often, just telling them won’t get the ideas across the way you had hoped.