Real projects for the real world

Sameera Sood

Ananya is in class 5. She studies in a progressive school that believes in experiential learning and a system of continuous evaluation of children.

Her science teacher has asked the students to prepare a 3D representation of the human digestive system. Her parents outsourced her project to a tutor in the neighbourhood. They want to make sure that Ananya scores a high grade in her project as it will reflect in her report card at the end of the term. The papier-mâché model labeled and coloured was delivered to Ananya’s home. Ananya’s mother wrote down a paragraph on the working of the human digestive system. Ananya has memorized the paragraph and she will be reciting this by rote while presenting her model in class. She will probably score a very high grade on this project as the assessment criteria are: neatness, aesthetics, labeling and explanation.

But as educators let us pause and think- what has Ananya learnt by making this model? Which higher order thinking skill was tapped by her to achieve success? Did she engage with any concept at a deeper level and did she acquire any new understanding or skill? How is this task different from drawing a diagram and writing a paragraph to explain the working of the human digestive system in the notebook? Just as writing answers in the notebook, this project, too, requires no creativity, imagination or application. The child simply has to replicate the content from a textbook. Most models will look the same because they will be based on the same diagram from the same text book.

Teachers painstakingly design projects for the benefit of the students. But, educators must realize that the mere act of making a model, an album or a chart does not make it a project. Projects should be designed to help children attain a deeper understanding and develop skills such as communication, collaboration and personal responsibility.

The author holds a Master’s degree in child development and has a diverse experience in handling both National(CBSE, ICSE) and IB curriculum. She has been a trainer for NCERT and has a rich varied experience in instructional design. She also heads the Curriculum Design and Development for Inspire products and projects. She can be reached at sameera.sood@inspireedu.org.

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