A must-read, and probably the best article I’ve seen in a few months.
Why hasn’t project-based learning picked up yet? There are a few reasons. First, the model of education says principal Chris Lehmann where kids sit in rows, read textbooks, and hear lectures has lasted so long, because it never goes that wrong. “It’s boring as hell, but most principals don’t yell at their teachers if they walk by their classroom and all they see is a quiet classroom with kids reading the textbook. No one gets in trouble.”
“If you go into a classroom,” says Lehmann, “where there isn’t that structure, kids aren’t exactly on pace, projects look messy, and it’s loud, teachers have gotten in trouble for that.”
Second, the way students attempt to learn via projects does not work. Tulley says, “It amounts to kit-based experiences in 45 minute periods. ‘We’re going to do a biology kit.’ We already know that those recipe like exercises do not stimulate creativity.”
I also spoke with Harvard Professor Eric Mazur on this issue as well. He says, “You can have students do laboratories and hands-on activities and learn nothing, because they are following the cookbook and going through the motions without having their brains on. The word ‘hands-on’ is overused and abused.”
The role of the teacher in project-based learning as Laufenberg likes to say is an “architect of opportunity. Through a scaffolding strategy, they help us make sense of what we have learned. Still, teachers must understand that learning is uncomfortable, messy, and complicated.”