Reinventing Education: PBL is an Essential Methodology for 21st century Education

The famous author George Evans wrote “Every student can learn, just not on the same day or in the same way”. Just like two fingers of the hand are not the same, two learners’ learning capability, perception or understanding cannot be the same. Traditional teaching assumes every learner is the same and is designed to mainly deliver content. The traditional methods were created in the bygone era of mass production triggered by the Industrial Revolution. In the modern world content is everywhere, the smart-phone has more content than the largest libraries in the world.

The Problem Based Learning (PBL) methodology creates new opportunities for learning. PBL delivers not only content but also skills that are crucial to success in the world of the future. PBL goes beyond content and enables learners to apply content ‘to find new and better ways of doing things’. Mastering the art and science of new and better ways of doing things is formula behind real success.  The formula is applied by the most successful people and companies in the world.

Human beings learn better (and remember better) when they are doing things. The 21st century PBL Learning Model emphasizes on the Four C’s (Communication, Collaboration, Creativity and Critical Thinking) and reduces the distance between the two worlds: the classroom and real-world.

PBL enables learning by simulating the real world. It all begins with a driving question. An example is: ‘How do we make the Delhi air cleaner?’ The driving question usually defines a real world problem. Learners tackle such real world problems by learning content and researching facts. Learners work in small groups (just like adults do in the real world) and develop vital skills they will require when they go into the real world. The aim is to use existing knowledge to come up with a new (and better solution) that is finally shared with the real world. Various subjects are learnt simultaneously. Learning is much more engaging and fun since it is being achieved with a context and a purpose. Teachers closely monitor the entire process and ensure learners are also learning content that is essential for meeting needs of the annual curriculum. By actively applying their learning the learners are far more attentive. Improved attention leads to better retention. PBL is all about making the learners ‘want’ to learn and to take ownership of the learning process.

Since their learning is no different to how they will work in the real world, PBL learners seamlessly integrate into the real world. They possess the mindset, attitude, knowledge and resilience to meet all the challenges the real world will throw at them, and they thrive!

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