It’s Time for PBL to Change the World


By Thom Markham


Is there any educator in the world who wouldn’t want his or her students to demonstrate the following qualities: Committed, Creative, Confident, Courageous, and Curious? Or to see students leave school at the end of the term and describe themselves as SkillfulPassionate, and Humble? Or have students working hard to make communities happier?

Here’s the dilemma: Formal schooling, delivered through an obsession with standards, pacing guides, and end of course tests will not deliver this result. A curriculum confined within the four walls of a classroom lacks the firepower to arouse the heart, infuse the gut with stamina, and reach into the mind to draw forth the hero lurking in everyone.

Before everyone begins to sputter, it’s a given that formal schooling has great value. It teaches core knowledge, binds a culture, requires daily practice in logic and critical thinking, exposes students to deep thoughts, and offers the necessary breadth required of an educated person.

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