Why PBL doesn't work in your classroom... and how it can after this one adjustment. 

You've heard of Project/Problem Based Learning (PBL), 21st century classrooms, ‘flipped’ classrooms etc... But do they actually work? Depends. I'll explain in a moment. 

All of these ‘buzz’ words in education can grow a bit wearisome. For us teachers, the next big buzzy thing has to be much more than a catchy title or cool idea. It has to have an educational outcome with significant improvements for both students’ and teachers’ lives. It takes time to explore these buzz concepts; to see which have substance and which ones don’t. Five minutes of extra reading here could save you hundreds hours of wasted time over your career. 
So, do the cool buzzy things actually work? Yes and no. To greater or lesser degrees. There are many variables.

A lot of the new cool buzzy things in education do have a grain of truth, but might not have been implemented in the right way at the right time, or even for the right purpose. 

I've spoken with a lot of different teachers over the last several years and many have attempted PBL in one form or another and it just hasn’t worked for them. But the concept is so simple, so obvious, and makes sense. So why wasn’t it successful? I can tell you very clearly. 

If an average five year old arrived at your school, would you start them in Year 6? No. They need to start at Kindergarten and work their way through the grades.
The reason why PBL hasn't been working for you is that it’s like enrolling a five year old in Year 6. There is much that a child needs to learn before they can be truly successful at PBL. ‘What's the order then?’ I hear you ask. 

Free Play > Growth Mindset > CCT (Critical and Creative Thinking) > PBL

So think of acquiring 21st century skills as like learning through the stages of schooling:

Foundation = Free Play

Stage 1 = Growth Mindset

Stage 2 = CCT

Stage 3 = PBL

If you teach your students CCT first - before PBL – then you will stand back and watch them work through projects and problems with a confidence and independence you didn’t think possible! Now, for a classroom teacher, that’s a buzz!

CCT Workshops in your area: https://cct-pl.education/workshops

James Phelps