The Case for Project Based Learning, Creativity & Innovation in Education

Critical thinking, digital literacy and real-world problem solving are some of the key principles to 21st Century education. And while these are definitely important skills needed to prepare pupils and students for the modern work environment, creativity and innovation are also important, particularly in the quickly and ever evolving tech industry.

Some would argue that creativity and innovation can’t be taught; that you either have them or you don’t. However, there are ways to inspire creative problem solving and project-based learning can be a vehicle to give these soft skills practical application. In fact, PBL is all about exploring and solving real-world challenges in a learning environment.

Creativity is most often associated with artistic expression, and yes, some are more artistic than others. But the reality is that not everyone needs to be an artist to learn how to think creatively. According to John Larmer, Editor-in-Chief for the Buck Institute for Education, arts can be incorporated into projects to encourage and develop creativity in problem solving.

Innovation is all about the process of generating, testing, refining, selecting and executing the best ideas. In business, organisations with leaders who encourage the sharing and exploration of new ideas are the most innovative. Likewise, educators can teach pupils and students innovative thinking by encouraging them to engage in a collaborative process of brainstorming ideas, deciding which ideas are most viable, testing to see what works, and refining until the right solution to the problem emerges.

The earlier pupils become involved in this kind of learning environment, the sharper their competencies for creativity and innovation becomes. What’s more, PBL helps to prepare students to enter the modern workforce where innovation and creativity are prized skills in today’s knowledge based economy.

As companies experiment with Holacracy and other flat organisational structures, those who can lead projects with creativity and work with a team are likely to stand out among their peers. In fact, the project-based approach to collaboration can also become part of organisations that encourage a culture of learning, development and high-performance.

It is in the organisations with such culture that are most likely to have the kind of modern leadership millennials seek out. Likewise, team members who excel at creative problem solving and innovative processes will probably be the most flexible and able to to adapt in today’s evolving workplace.

Image by Dino Reichmuth. All rights. Unsplash.com

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