Letter: Helping K-12 Education
On March 26, The Sopris Sun and The Aspen Times each published a piece about education: In the former, a letter to the editor from parents about opting out of March standardized testing taking place in Colorado schools; in the latter, an opinion about the need to fix American K-12 education. Together, these letters present valid concerns about teaching, learning and how to measure and assure educational success. There is no simple solution, but teaching methods exist that can address some of the issues in a way that complements the traditional methods most prevalent in our system.
Traditional methods treat the teaching process as a transfer of information: Teacher talks, students listen, take notes and reproduce the information in some form. This method works for some students; others need to be actively engaged in the learning process. Project-based learning is a method that allows students to experience, reflect and apply new information. Our schools have always included some form of project-based learning. Remember shop class and home economics? In many cases, however, such courses have been abandoned, and in most cases, they have become outdated culturally and technologically.
A new iteration of project-based learning programs is emerging and it’s helping to recapture imaginations and to engage students in their education. These programs are applied across a broad spectrum of subjects and inject core academic material with creating something or investigating real world issues. Project-based learning programs expose students to the relevance of what they’re learning and cultivate skills needed by all students, regardless of their academic aspirations, how to problem solve, plan, use available information, communicate and collaborate.
Our world is hyper-connected and fast-paced; information of all kinds flows freely. Post-high school training, college or career-oriented, has never been more important. Education needs to keep up. We can require academic rigor while still offering valuable learning experiences that induce students to become lifelong learners as they find their way in the world.
There are groups around the country having success with new project-based learning courses. Locally, (CO)Studio (www.costudio.org) has developed and is providing a design build course that integrates with many core state standards. Perhaps we should consider making this approach part of the Roaring Fork Valley education experience to prepare our students for the next phase of their lives.
“I hear; I forget.
I see, and I remember.
I do, and I understand.”
— Ancient Chinese Proverb
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