Academic Lens: A Maker Education

Posted by Scott Allenby


Students are on break and campus is quiet. Really quiet. It never ceases to amaze me how quickly life at a boarding school shifts from the controlled chaos of the academic year to complete silence during vacations. Campus is grey, and clinging to patches of snow after an unseasonably warm holiday. Since our classrooms are quiet, today's blog post looks back at a post from last fall on "A Maker Education". Enjoy!

Proctor Academy campus

This blog post filtered through my Twitter feed last fall. We talk a lot about student-centered education at Proctor and seek to design as many of our classroom experiences around this philosophy as possible. We believe wholeheartedly in this approach, but one line from the above blog post stuck out in my mind, “Just because it’s hands on, doesn’t mean it’s minds on.” 

Proctor Academy science class

In particular, I reflected on the following statement made by the author, “Project Based Learning is an approach that guides the learning, through driving questions and student inquiry, to uncover or discover the information needed to answer a question, solve a problem/mystery, or invent/create something new. In Project Based Learning, the project is not simply the visible result or culmination of the learning, but rather the cause of the learning.” 

Proctor Academy industrial arts

Proctor has long held this belief that students learn through the experience, and the experience does not simply reinforce prior learning. Not every single class period at Proctor will have project based learning incorporated, but having an overarching academic philosophy centered around experiential learning encourages, and provides added freedom to, teachers to incorporate frequent hands-on/minds-on learning opportunities. 

Proctor Academy forestry

Our academic curriculum as a whole does a tremendous job of creating effective project-based learning opportunities for students. Whether it is the AP Government class meeting with the New Hampshire Timberland Owners Association to help develop recommendations for a new gas tax in the state, or AP Environmental Science students monitoring water quality in local water sources (image below), students and faculty are consistently engaged in problem solving opportunities. 

Proctor Academy community

While on-campus project based learning opportunities occur each and every day in classes, Proctor’s extensive off-campus programs epitomize the impact this type of learning can have on students. Frequent updates  this fall from Proctor en Segovia and Ocean Classroom, written from the students’ perspectives reinforce our belief in the transformational nature of these programs. Be sure to check out student blogs from Spain and Ocean Classroom to see for yourself their impact on student-learning! 

Proctor Academy Ocean Classroom

With over 70% of students taking part in one of our high school study abroad programs during their Proctor careers, and the remainder of students engaged in the day-to-day project based learning of classrooms on-campus, we feel incredibly fortunate to have the infrastructure, leadership, and diverse faculty needed to implement a dynamic academic model capitalizing on each student’s desire to learn through experiences rather than simply from experiences.

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