People Based Learning: A New P in PBL
Why we need to add People Based Learning to our conversations around change in schools.
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Think back to your favorite teacher as a child. I am going to predict at least one, if not all, of the following three things were true.
They made learning come alive, sharing their own experiences, stories and examples that struck emotions and stuck in your memory.
They connected with you. They personalized your experience with high standards and warm encouragement.
They were your champion.
These qualities facilitate the learning in any setting. They are not qualities that come from a text book or a project or a video activity. These are people qualities.
Psychologist Abraham Maslow developed the the famous ‘hierarchy of needs‘, which places our need to connect with others as secondary only to our survival needs. Attachment theory suggests that a child needs a trusting connection with a caregiver to do well as an adult. Connection to people does not just help us learn, it is a necessary part of learning.
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The Big Idea
If I want to learn something new, whether it’s about making better decisions or the French Revolution, I’ll pick a person that best embodies the idea I want to learn about. I find that it’s easier to have an emotional connection to a person, which then triggers my memory, and I actually learn and remember.
Innovative schools use engaging and relevant models, many abbreviated as PBL- Place Based Learning/ Project Based Learning/ Problem Based Learning.
What all of these have in common is that they involve PEOPLE. Humans are social beings, and we learn with and from those around us all the time. We need to add a new P to PBL: People Based Learning. When students engage in People Based Learning they
….grow more empathetic. (People connecting with people grows empathy.)
…experience clarity in their direction. (They see examples, and get feedback.)
…share, iterate upon and get to realize their ideas more often and more easily.
…grow a larger network of champions and mentors.
…see things in systems, and make connections. (Their worlds gain detail.)
…allow divergent ideas to bloom. (They can disagree and see things anew.)
….navigate the academic, personal and professional world with more confidence.
…evolve and iterate upon both their ideas and themselves.
People Based Learning engages individuals actively in meaningful connections with others for the purpose of inclusive, durable, emotionally threaded learning.
Making Big Ideas Usable
How might you make this practical and usable? Some ideas:
SELF LEARNING: Learning from yourself, which begins with connecting with yourself and self knowledge. Meditate. Journal. Ask yourself questions.
STORY LEARNING: Developing the skills to learn from others’ stories, and to feel empowered to tell your own, builds and strengthens relationships.
SHADOWING: Learning from people, which ranges from shadowing to peer instruction, networking to mentoring.
STUDYING PEOPLE: Learning explicit “people skills”, including communication, connection, caring happens through modeling and mindsets.
SUSTAINED CONNECTION: The skills needed to connect over a sustained time with others, not just at one time for one purpose, feed and expand People Based learning.
If anything has come out of this ongoing pandemic clearly, it has been that some (if not all) of the best learning happens when humans are connected to other humans.
People Based Learning is the new P in PBL. And it is essential.
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