Project-based Learning in Yonkers, NY: A Groundbreaking Educational Move

Yonkers is the state’s fourth largest district and is one of the so-called “Big Five” school systems, among New York City, Rochester, Buffalo, and Syracuse. It operates as a branch of local government with no taxing authority; each district relies on a city, state and federal aid for funding. With such limited resources, it is essential that the students’ learning time be maximized to the fullest.

Project-based learning is a teaching method wherein students gain knowledge and skills by working for an extended period to investigate and respond to an authentic, engaging and complicated question, problem, or challenge.

What are the advantages of Project Based Learning?

To complete projects, students interact with other students. Seniors are compelled to teach their juniors, achieving mutual learning. Because of this, teachers could spend less time teaching individuals; an advantage especially for institutions like Yonkers’ who struggle with resources. For this setup, teachers only need to cater to students for questions and the grading of their final output.

Furthermore, this method prepares students better for work. Whether they finished a project with a passed or failed remark, a valuable lesson would be learned. Not only on the subject that they are into, but also real-life lessons they get from the people they work with and the project they are working on. Engaging in these activities rather than sticking to the outdated education system exposes them to the reality of adulthood, thus, preparing them better for it.

Project-based testing could also be an addition to this package. Testing through project completion is better than the old school style of repetitive quizzes and exams.

Why does Yonkers need to adopt this teaching method?

Yonkers is a large district that caters 26,000 students and is currently struggling to educate its continually increasing population. To address this issue and to stop further deterioration of its current education system, it calls for a better teaching strategy, hence, the project-based learning.

With that number of a population, interactive learning could help them in a way that they teach one another. Teachers would also have lesser time to attend to each one of them and allot the time to guide them as a group instead. This method could also help provide the students the minimum level of art, music or physical education instruction required by the state.

The struggles that they are facing could be converted into an asset if the project-based learning is applied strategically. In their situation, the students could be compelled to help each other more. Sticking to classroom learning alone would be inconvenient with that ratio of population and resources.  Learning in that awkward environment is somewhat unfulfilling.

Not only in Yonkers, but Project-Based Learning can also apply to other education systems. It supports deeper learning for the students. The interactive project completions will give them the chance to acquire knowledge from a variety of resources, not from one teacher only. For Yonkers’ current scarcity, project-based learning is a good alternative.