Yesterday, a group of classmates and I did a presentation on a couple of chapters from our Tech textbook. One of the topics that we talked to our class about was Project-Based Learning and how it can be effective in engaging students in their learning. The video below was listed as a must-see by our instructor, and it sums up the benefits of using Project-Based Learning in the classroom exceptionally. Thinking back to my days in elementary and high school, I wish I had had the opportunity to take part in more project-based activities where I could really put my learning to good use and create solutions or think much more critically. I was labelled one of the "smart kids" back then and took pride in my academic achievements. However, thinking back to these times I can completely relate to what was said in this video because I was simply able to memorize facts or sentences and regurgitate them on tests. I don't think that this means that I was ever smart - when I think of someone who is smart, I think of someone who has the ability to think outside the box, to question "facts", and who tries to build their own knowledge by taking in many sources of information and figuring out what all that information means to them. I'm not trying to say that people who can memorize things are not smart; I am saying that I wish I had tried harder and spent more time on thinking critically rather than memorizing things someone else told me were true.
Furthermore, project-based learning requires collaboration, something I think is so important for students to learn as early on as possible. I believe it is inevitable that there will be competition and the desire to be "the best" at something amongst all students. However if we provide them the tools to learn the benefits of collaboration, we may at least be able to relieve some of the pressure these students feel to be the best and compete with their peers. I think in the end, the benefits of collaboration can beat any of the so-called benefits of being the best.
Competition can isolate, collaboration can empower.