Project-based learning (or PBL) is a pupil-centred teaching approach that involves a dynamic classroom experience. It is believed that students acquire a deeper knowledge through active exploration of real-world challenges and problems.
At Shrewsbury House we have adapted this concept of thinking about real-world problems, and have introduced a bespoke and dynamic aspect to the curriculum, to sit alongside our robust examination preparation of our boys for some of the most aspirational schools in the country. Our Shrewsbury House version of PBL includes both problem-based learning and project-based learning. We realise that both excellent assessment preparation, and fun and exploratory learning are complementary – and vital.
From Years 3 to 6, on rotation, the boys are timetabled for a lesson of PBL each week. This is dynamic and changes each term across subject areas, so that we are able to consider the changing needs of our boys in the exponential times in which we are living. The World Economic Forum has listed skills which are needed in today’s and tomorrow’s workforce. Being a forward-thinking school matters to us and we have ensured that we are reading the needs of our changing world.
Creating a culture of healthy risk-taking, discovery and experimentation, across multiple areas of the curriculum, while also valuing tradition, is what we foster. Shrewsbury House PBL includes problem-solving, interview skills and mindfulness, reading for different purposes, science exploration and problem-solving, Maths and English real-world problems, and lateral thinking, and Geography field work. We hope to see Mandarin feature shortly.
In Years 7 and 8, this is implemented slightly differently. This way of thinking about the world is fostered directly in lessons but in addition a ‘Headmaster’s Club’ is especially on offer for pupils who wish to be exposed to the kind of lateral thinking and real-world issues, from sustainability to trekking across Asia. Boys are fascinated by the talks from visiting speakers on a range of topics.
Our Careers Education provision is very important and enables boys to take some of these super ideas, which tap into what makes them tick, and plug them into advice from parent speeches, experts in their fields, and from authorities on careers choices. Our latest Parent Talk looked at the Mining Industry, Becoming an Entrepreneur, and Banking and Equities. Our Post Common Entrance and Post Scholarship programmes with our Year 8 boys are again wonderful opportunities to see project work and problem-solving in action.
Future jobs will involve knowledge creation and innovation. Eight skills below have been identified as being necessary for the future world of work. Through the right philosophy, energy and focus on doing right by our boys, we ensure that these skills are woven into both the formal and hidden curriculum, to enable PBL to go beyond its bespoke spot and also be part of our meta-cognition approach:
1. Mental Elasticity and Complex Problem Solving
2. Critical Thinking
4. People Skills: including collaboration, speaking and listening
5. STEM: (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths)
6. SMAC (social, mobile, analytics and cloud)
7. Interdisciplinary knowledge and application
8: Emotional intelligence: including mindfulness, soft skills and social awareness