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Problem based Learning : Wait but why?

Hi all Amanda from the think-team!

There has been a lot of talks about education in the past week and just last month we were doing our online short course program with Tokyo University. This got me reflecting on my educational journey and how it compares to education nowadays. Recently there is this trending thread on twitter about how young couple (mostly influencers) tweet about the struggle to choose a future school for kids because of the many options - for a private school that is.I didnt really care that much until I started to read and revise potential agreement with school and have a meeting with a school representative that learning is definitely not only about what we learn in class – there is so much more than just class curriculum. Steiner schools and problem-based learning (PBL) is becoming more and more common. But back then I was in a regular school like other regular kids.

Throughout school, I felt like I was taught to get by. And to get by means to go by the rules, follow instructions. Although I took advantage of this system by accelerating through highschool, I was reinforcing a habit that is not so beneficial in the work environment. I think a lot of the Asian educational system taught us to be workers and followers instead of thinkers. I only realized how detrimental this mindset can be when I entered, which I will come back to later.

Fast forward to today's education, PBL really caught my attention. After having a productive check ins with my colleague, Fabian, I found that there are many ways to apply this concept, but essentially, students get to take control of what they learn. Because now they are not taught to follow, but to really come up with a problem and learn from there. To be a problem solver instead of a mechanical worker. To be a critical thinker instead of a mindless do-er. Perhaps it is obvious that in a world full of problems, it makes sense to teach students to be solvers. But I think I only fully understand the importance of finding a problem in

In, I would slip sometimes and simply do a task because I was instructed to do so. What could happen is that I usually end up producing something not so valuable and useful. Here, we are taught to really ask why we have to do something, maybe even five layers deep (i.e. what is the question/ request really asking). Then we will come up with a problem. We find problems on the daily and many times we are told by our founder Tak, that problems are harder to find then solutions. Finding a solution is easy, you can google it, but finding a problem requires thinking and looking at the bigger picture. I realized that, if you are not used to this activity, finding the right problem is difficult. And finding the right problem is important so that we move in the right direction. With every problem solved, we move one step closer to our vision. That is why we find problems daily, because we make progress day-by-day.

Perhaps I will send my kids to a school with a PBL system. But most importantly, I think I will teach the value of finding the right problems.

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