Homework – Not again!
Probably every parent has heard it from the kids and wondered if there is a better way to engage kids in learning. In the digital age, we are bombarded with apps, videos and many other medium of communications that every easily distract kids (not to mention adults). There are numerous apps, which will help the kids to do their homework better and memorize more “stuff” - but does that really help in learning? Learning that equips them to do develop a mindset of – getting things done, taking risks and contribute to society? Getting kids to do projects by setting the right boundaries.
Project-based learning is not a new concept; the idea of ‘learning by doing’ was first introduced in 1897 by one of the most prominent American scholars in the first half of the twentieth century, John Dewey. But there are still many people with questions about whether it really has any benefits to children. So what are the benefits of this less home work – more projects approach?
Mark Cuban, billionaire entrepreneur and owner of the Dallas Mavericks, told business insider how when he was 12 years old he needed new sneakers. His dad told him he had to pay for them himself, and so he started selling garbage bags door to door.
Mark Cuban stated
“And I would literally go door to door to door: “Hi, does your family use garbage bags?” And who could say no? So, that’s where I learned to sell. Literally. Every objection [I’d reply], “Of course you use garbage bags, and I bet you pay more than six cents apiece.”... So, I went on from there.”
Mark Cuban had a problem or ‘interesting question’ and he went out and found an answer. This was the stepping stone to a thousand interesting questions he would someday answer, including how to graduate with his bachelor’s and masters in business at the same time.
It’s natural to work hard at something and want recognition for it. After all, hard work is definitely something to be admired and as parents, we should never diminish this! We should always encourage our children to work hard and recognize when they do. However, hard work alone is not enough. Hard work, without results, will not get you very far in the real world. Project-based learning helps children not only learn hard work but how to work hard for the desired outcomes, regardless of how many times you might fail along the way.
Unlike a test you turn in and then throw away after getting your final grade, a project is personal and has more meaning for a child. It also has an end result that the child can be proud of and can look back on with fondness.
Success in learning is often classified as getting an A or being at the top of the class. However, this success does not transfer into life long success. True success is not a competition against others, true success is the willpower to show up and do what is necessary to finish a project. Even when all motivation is gone and the ‘fun part’ has passed.
Traditional learning allows children to find confidence in knowing that they were able to listen and remember what they were taught. However, project-based learning allows children to find a whole new type of confidence. The confidence in knowing they can figure out a problem, even when there is no one there to tell them how. And this confidence can not only help them in learning but in everyday basic day-to-day activities.
Unlike traditional learning, project-based learning requires children to go out and look for answers that may not be placed right in front of them. They can not turn to a text-book or notes from a lecture to find everything they need. Working on a project requires a child to think outside the box and to do something that may not have ever been done or thought of before.
Standing out is something everyone wants to do. However, most people still lean towards conformity with learning and pursuing careers. Project-based learning teaches children to pave their own paths and make their own decisions.
Working on a project and knowing that it will be presented in front of others creates a sense of vulnerability. Especially when you don’t have a teacher telling you when the project is good enough or how to make it good enough.
Brene Brown, research professor at the University of Houston, who specializes in courage, vulnerability, shame, and empathy, and author of 5 New York Times bestsellers, once said
“Vulnerability is not winning or losing; it’s having the courage to show up and be seen when we have no control over the outcome. Vulnerability is not weakness; it’s our greatest measure of courage.”
It may not work, but doing a project to the best of your abilities anyways, is a skill and work ethic that is hard to learn. And many people never do. Brene Brown also stated that
“vulnerability is the birthplace of innovation, creativity, and change.”
There are many people out there, myself included, who never took a chance or backed out of an opportunity because the fear of failure was too strong. When you have confidence in yourself, and you know that failure is just another stepping stone, not an end result, a world of opportunities will open up to you.
This is an excerpt from the book Project based learning for Kids. You can get the free e-book by visiting Winning Words Projects, where we coach students to build Arts & Tech projects.
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