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Educational initiatives

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Another educational approach is on the boards. Project Based Learning is one of the current "in" trends. Again.

Nothing in education is static, no matter what the critics and pundits say. Teachers will tell you a much different story.

There's also not much that is new. There are buckets full of approaches and initiatives that are repackaged, with new and shiny ribbons, though.

PBL is an old idea, now ready for another go at being the best thing in education since recess.

It's central premise is that children learn best while doing, and doing things that are relevant and meaningful in the context of the children's lives.

One might think that that is something that is one of the "duh" statements, but judging from the emphasis on high stakes testing, one might find oneself wondering about that.

How old is this approach? Think back to Confucius, Socrates, and Aristotle, and you'd be in the ballpark for learning while doing. Actually, think back to when dinosaurs roamed the planet, and early humans were competing for food and shelter. Learning by doing was a do or die proposition.

The concept of learning through a hands on approach, which includes questioning, a lot of inquiry, critical thinking, and continuous seeking of what works, is deeply embedded in education, not just the PBL strategy.

Perhaps one of the more mind numbing approaches to education involves treating students, at any level, as passive recipients of what ever is being taught. Once again, the high stakes testing business pops to mind. Think "No Child Left Behind".

There is good in all this, whether it is Project Based Learning, which was popular about 20 years ago, or Flipping Classrooms, or STEM, or whatever else is out there. The good part of it is the ongoing search for teaching excellence, using multiple approaches, for all students, of all ages and abilities.

Children, and all learners, who are actively engaged in exploring a given subject, simply learn more, and more efficiently, because so much of their brains, along with their bodies, are driving the access to knowledge.

It's a bit more loud, and active, and certainly more messy at times, than a teacher droning on and on to students who are required to sit quietly and, at all times, listen-please-to-what-I'm-saying. Stop talking!

The repackaging of all the approaches is simple, and predictable. Every 3 to 5 years, the new and shiny stuff come out. Why? Follow the money, always follow the money.

As always, assume nothing, verify everything.

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