Magazine article Technology & Learning

The Key Role of Authenticity. (Editor's Desk)

Magazine article Technology & Learning

The Key Role of Authenticity. (Editor's Desk)

Article excerpt

In this month's cover feature, "Project Based Learning: A Primer" author Gwen Solomon paints a clear picture of a new approach to school. This environment looks and feels much like a real-world office. Students work on authentic projects whose outcomes have an impact on the lives of others. They think critically and work collaboratively, conferring, guiding, and evaluating as they proceed. Their results are shared with the world: applied to solve a traffic problem, decrease water pollution, preserve a cultural heritage, or facilitate relief efforts--and international understanding--across the globe.

The key concept here, of course, is meaning. When we see meaning in what we do, we're engaged and motivated. It seems pretty straightforward, doesn't it? And yet, what is the one question teachers traditionally hear from students more than any other? "Why do we need to know this?" A valid query. And though sometimes we have to assist kids in making the leap between an abstract mental exercise and its application to life, we might also welcome these occasions as opportunities to reexamine what we feel they really need to know. Revolutionary thinker Roger Schank certainly challenges the education community to rethink the mandatory curriculum that's been in place for the past hundred years. For more on this see "Talking `Bout a Curriculum Revolution" (Trend Watch, page 4).

Perhaps the strongest argument for project-based learning is that it has the power and the potential to involve a whole population of students who might otherwise fall through the cracks in K-12 education. …

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