This blog post
filtered through my Twitter feed over the weekend and after sharing its message with a few of my colleagues in the Social Science office, I felt it was worth sharing with the greater community. We talk a lot about student-centered education at Proctor and seek to design as many of our classroom experiences around this philosophy as possible. We believe wholeheartedly in this approach, but one line from the above blog post stuck out in my mind, “Just because it’s hands on, doesn’t mean it’s minds on.”
In particular, I reflected on the following statement made by the author, “Project Based Learning is an approach that guides the learning, through driving questions and student inquiry, to uncover or discover the information needed to answer a question, solve a problem/mystery, or invent/create something new. In Project Based Learning, the project is not simply the visible result or culmination of the learning, but rather the cause of the learning.”
Proctor has long held this belief that students learn through
the experience, and the experience does not simply reinforce prior learning. Not every single class period at Proctor will have project based learning incorporated, but having an overarching academic philosophy centered around experiential learning encourages, and provides added freedom to, teachers to incorporate frequent hands-on/minds-on learning opportunities.
Our academic curriculum as a whole does a tremendous job of creating effective project-based learning opportunities for students. Whether it is the AP Government class meeting with the New Hampshire Timberland Owners Associatio
n to help develop recommendations for a new gas tax
in the state, or AP Environmental Science students monitoring water quality in local water sources (image below), students and faculty are consistently engaged in problem solving opportunities.
While on-campus project based learning opportunities occur each and every day in classes, Proctor’s extensive off-campus programs epitomize the impact this type of learning can have on students. Frequent updates this fall from Proctor en Segovia
and Ocean Classroom
, written from the students’ perspectives reinforce our belief in the transformational nature of these programs. Be sure to check out student blogs
and Ocean Classroom
to see for yourself their impact on student-learning!
With over 70% of students taking part in these off-campus experiences during their Proctor careers and the remainder of students engaged in the day-to-day project based learning of classrooms on-campus, we feel incredibly fortunate to have the infrastructure, leadership, and diverse faculty needed to implement a dynamic academic model capitalizing on each student’s desire to learn through
experiences rather than simply from experiences.