A Student’s First Impressions of a PBL High School

December 14, 2015

By Caleb, Grade  9
Columbus Signature Academy New Tech High School

In some high schools, people complain about not having friends. People complain about having too much stuff to do, or not enough stuff to do. People complain about their work being meaningless, and therefore school seeming like a waste of time. When I thought about what I wanted when I went to high school, the main thing I wanted was for my work to count.

So far, I can say that my work in high school does count. It does mean something, and not just to me.

The projects we work on are a lot of fun and actually mean something. Just last week I worked on a project where we were making a video that was going to be shown in one of our other classes (Advisory.) It was a lot of fun, and also very fulfilling, to work on something that was meaningful to others, and to myself.

The friends that I work with are also very different compared to other high schools. At other high schools, social groups are formed, and these social groups can be very exclusive. At a PBL school, all of the social groups learn to be very tolerant of other people (they have to be,) because it’s a risk to work in a collaborative work environment. But it’s definitely worth it.

The facilitators are also a lot of fun, and they get the job done great. We have a lot of laughs with our facilitators, and have a lot of questions for them as well; and in the end, it’s those questions that drive our lives forward.

I am quite happy to learn lessons from my projects. At other schools people might laugh when mistakes are made, expecting perfection. It’s different at a PBL school. People don’t laugh at each other for making mistakes; they try to help one another learn from it so that we can laugh at it at a later date. We build off of each other, branching out to areas of life we might never have been able to reach in a society where the focus is on “who is better”, a society that asks questions like, “How good are your grades?” “Did you win the football game?” “Did you win the marching band competition?” These questions miss the point of why those competitions were created in the first place: to better each other. These competitions help us drive each other forward,  push each other to become better and better each day, to push past the mistakes we’ve made, and to better the lives of those around us. These awards recognize leaders, people that truly work hard to better the lives of people around them. PBL schools work to better the lives of people around them and teach high school students this value. Life is all about getting better personally as well as helping the world get better, and many schools may not teach that second part.

Project- Based Learning is a very different educational experience than what I expected. Most of the projects that I worked with in elementary school usually only took about a week and had no impact on the people around me. That’s very different at my project- based high school. I used to question myself, asking myself what value I had in this world. I knew that I had value, but I had no idea what that value could be. PBL has given me a sense of purpose because the projects that you undertake have a direct effect on your friends and sometimes even your community. Each day is something new at a PBL school. The students are fun to work with, the facilitators are fun to work for, and the projects are fun to work on. While adjusting to it is a bit hard, the rewards we get in the long run, and the fun we have, working hard, are what make PBL fantastic. It is definitely worth it, for the real life experience, for the friends made, and for the lessons learned.

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