As we enter the techno-centric 21st century, more than ever before our students need to connect with the range of human experience while refining their critical thinking and research skills. There are many schools of thought about how students should learn these, but I believe that designing a unit of study that brings in community and cross curricular opportunities is an exciting and engaging way to do it.
I feel lucky to teach a class dedicated solely to project based learning in Middle School. This means I get to bring causes dear to my heart- empathy, community outreach, and providing learning opportunities for students to get inspired and involved. As students connect with a problem, they strive to come up with a solution or make others aware to bring about change.
Along the way, students learn important life and work skills such as communication, research, presentation, collaboration, advocacy and project management all while tapping into their ability to innovate and create. As well, it often becomes a time for students to reflect on their own lives and the opportunities they have which are not always readily available to others.
Last Friday each Middle School student sought to bring awareness to the plight of the marginalised in Hong Kong. This ranged from research on asylum seekers to lives of street-sweepers, to those who live well under the poverty margin in caged homes. Students chose their focus and worked within groups or individually to learn more about their chosen demographic. One student took this as an opportunity to create a video about the life of a street sweeper and made the decision to spend an evening living in similar conditions so he could share the experience. Though his adventure is just a drop in the bucket of another's life experience, the seeds of seeking to understand and empathize have been sown.
It's my hope that as my students complete Middle School and enter High School, that they remember the hashtag we created: #THSstandsforchange and build on their connections with others from all walks of life. I hope that they feel empowered to use their privilege and knowledge to make a difference in their communities wherever that may be.
Photos are of our recent PBL exhibition on Poverty in Hong Kong.