Dublin School is investigating problem-based learning as a way to engage students in the development of academic and 21st century skills of critical thinking, creative thinking, problem solving, collaboration and initiative. Challenges under way this winter include making a pamphlet to educate the school on obesity, dueling with Shakespeare quotes, finding a way to contact Iraqi teenagers to express respect for our shared origins, putting on a coffee house at a local restaurant, leading the school in participating in the Green Cup challenge, learning to write a scientific abstract, evaluating the effects of Reconstruction on racism in America, teaching Spanish students about the history of Latin American relations with the US, re-envisiongin and pitching your vission of A Midsummer Night's Dream.
As you can see, challenges involve rich academic content, and put students in the driver's seat in solving a problem. Challenges often involve demonstrations of knowledge to an audience outside the class, or employing knowledge to make a contribution to a larger group. They thus raise the standard of accountability for students and provide a fulcrum through which new knowledge is power to take action in the world. This helps us achieve the ultimate goal of our mission in empowering students to act independently. Challenges also stimulate curiosity about aspects and dimensions owns of a subject in unpredictable ways, so they are exciting. All teachers are doing a challenge in at least one course this winter, so we hope you have the opportunity to ask a Dublin student about his or her experience of learning this way. Let us know what you hear!