Why challenging our students matters.

Watch this and be inspired.

If you’re a teacher and you’re not moved by the words of Eleanor Duckworth here, then leave the profession now so that other people who are inspired by these words and who can find ways to make this kind of learning happen in their classrooms can take your place.

I’ve spent the past two weeks using Project Based Learning methods in my English classroom to do the kinds of things that Eleanor suggests we need to do in our classrooms. My kids have been thinking. They’ve been challenged by the task. Some were struggling finding a way to work collaboratively and some were struggling with what they perceived as the ‘looseness’ of the task. They were looking for defined parameters and were finding it hard to move out of the regular classroom model of ‘here’s what we’re doing’. Some were relishing the freedom to think, to challenge themselves, to set their own parameters.

It’s been fantastic. I’ve been energised watching and guiding them through their excitement and their struggles. I’m working in a team with two other teachers who have embraced PBL and are trying to make it happen in their classroom too. One of these teachers is a young graduate, and to see her come and find me out so that she could share with me the wonderful experience she had when she launched the task was a moment I will savour always. She’s a fine young teacher and she’s going to be an even better one by the end of this project, I’m convinced of it.

A longer post will follow where I’ll outline the process we followed. It might help others who are thinking of using PBL approaches in their classrooms. My sincere thanks go to Bianca Hewes who provided help through her frequent blog posts about her practice and a very generous phone call where she answered many of my queries in our planning stages.

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