As times change and technology advances, it’s only natural that our methods of teaching and learning adapt in order to keep up with evolving times. Most Likely to Succeed is an educational documentary that focuses on education and curriculum reform in the 21st century in America. It strives to answer an important question – Why has our education stayed the same while our economy has so drastically shifted due to changes in technology? In today’s world, students learn in silos – one class period teaches one subject and another class period teaches a different subject. Math, English, History, Science, etc. are taught independently within a school day divided up into blocks of time, usually 40-50 minutes. This operates more like an organizational device and not as an educational principle. It’s unlikely that students will ever get to see the connections or links amongst these subjects to one another. With this process, students fail to learn complexity or see how topics have unifying themes. On the contrary, project-based learning integrates these subjects, which allows students to achieve increased understanding and retain what they learn longer. Project-based learning equips students with a better ability to solve problems and through subject integration, they can recognize and value global dependencies and feel more connected as members of their communities. Filmmaker Greg Whitley showcases an alternative way of schooling by following the teaching model developed by Larry Rosenstock at High Tech High in San Diego, California. This program, mainly funded by Qualcomm C.E.O Irwin Jacobs, shifts the focus of the classroom to project-based learning and the development of soft skills like confidence, time management and collaboration. The documentary highlights the experience of two 9th grade classes led by teachers Scott Swaaley, Mike Strong, Mark Aguirre and Brian Delgado. They were given unrestricted freedom in the classroom that allowed them to be exempt from state-mandated requirements like standardized testing. In doing so, they were able to promote critical skills, emphasize that everyone learns in different ways and that the archaic education processes were limiting students’ success. In the film, students were assigned projects to be presented in the school’s year-end exhibition. Parents, teachers, field experts and the community are the audience students would present their projects to. This single aspect helped to develop a number of traits in students that can be easily transformed to real life: teamwork, collaboration, sense of accomplishment, communication & speaking and presentation skills. By utilizing project-based learning in the classroom, students were more engaged in their work and were forced to use their hearts and minds to uncover their talents, which provide real-world relevance for learning. Most Likely to Succeed argues the point that institutions like High Tech High could be producing graduates that are better prepared to take on a world that continues to replace once guaranteed white collar jobs with artificial intelligence. In an economy that places emphasis on human creativity and innovation, it is imperative that students develop skills that would allow them to add value straight out of college. At the same time, parents of students were worried and raised concerns that their children weren’t getting the proper balance within their educational program that favors depth in one area while limiting the breadth in multiple subjects.
Through the use of project-based learning, students are able to:
• Develop deeper learning competencies needed college, career and civic life success
• Effectively engage with their peers to achieve a common goal
• Improve their learning through gaining a deeper understand on content, remembering what was learned, retaining the information longer and applying it to real-life situations
• Explore the world of technology through the use of various tools used in today’s workplace
• Make a difference by solving real problems and dealing with real issues within their communities and throughout the world Without a doubt, the Most Likely to Succeed Film illustrates the importance of expelling the traditional norms we’ve grown accustomed to within the educational system.
Today, human creativity and innovation are traits that hold the most significance. Project based learning is the transformation needed in America to catapult our youth – and our nation – to success as we fight to stake our claim in a world with lighting speed advances in technology and automation. Click here to learn more about the Most Likely to Succeed Film.