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by Ankit Harneja
BIE Intern

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July 3, 2017
A Sense of Purpose with PBL

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by Ankit Harneja
BIE Intern



I have observed that whether we appreciate our job often boils down to how our job meets with our sense of purpose. Experiences and a lot of listening to my colleagues have let me conclude that the Monday blues and the wait for Friday results from a lack of purpose. You must be wondering how can we find our sense of purpose. Honestly, I don't know. Wait, do not close your web browsers yet. While I do not have a framework to find our sense of purpose, I do have a recommendation. Get out of the building and experience the life without prejudices. A few weeks back, I got out of the building and found my purpose and that is the reason I am writing this blog.

Taking students on an educational tour is an amazing thing to do for students. Taking an educational tour to learn from students is even more amazing. On May 23, 2017, I visited Bachrodt Charter Academy in the San Jose Unified
School District to experience their innovative approach to teaching and learning. Bachrodt is currently in their third year of using a Project Based Learning instructional approach.

The day was filled with visits to classrooms where the student ambassadors shared their learnings and the work they had produced through PBL. The event was well planned and the guests, including myself and BIE Publications Manager Theresa Siliezar, were accompanied by student guides who also acted as language translators.
 

I was amazed by the authenticity of the projects that the students were working on. Below I will speak of a few of the projects: 

  1. The students from Kindergarten wondered how farmers work together to grow the ingredients needed to make a pizza.
  2. The class of grade 5 researched and prepared a budget for their dream road trip across the United States.
  3. Empathy was at the core of a project done by grade 2 students. The students not only created bracelets for donations for bone marrow transplants but also learned how a patient's ethnic background affected matching.
  4. Grade 3 students researched the causes and effects of global warming. They created a prototype of a CO2 scrubber to save the planet from global warming.
  5. After witnessing a presentation by an entomologist, the students from Grade 1 learned more about insects. Students also created insect models and illustrations.


I now trust that PBL can change the face of education because it not only is an innovative teaching methodology but also gives students a sense of purpose. Michael E. Porter, a professor at Harvard Business School, said, "Millennials are more aware of society's many challenges than previous generations and less willing to accept maximizing shareholder value as a sufficient goal for their work. They are looking for a broader social purpose and want to work somewhere that has such a purpose." I profoundly agree with the professor (and it has nothing to do with the fact that I am a business school student). Therefore, it is appropriate that we prepare the next generation to learn via real life situations.

Seeing students learn and grow through Project Based Learning, the integration of technology, and the desire to make a positive impact in their school and community was an enriching experience. Most importantly, I received a smile card.


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