The Academies of Nashville program strives to give students real-world learning opportunities that put core academic subjects into the context of real problem solving. We believe our students will be more motivated to pursue their education and professional development if they understand how their time in school is contributing to the larger goals they have for their future.
Associated with ASCD, The Whole Child Blog is a great source of resources and ideas about this type of learning. This blog draws from many of the organizations and resources that have informed the philosophy behind the Academies of Nashville, such as the Partnership for 21st-Century Skills and the Common Core State Standards Initiative. A recent post by Thom Markham advocated the benefits of project-based learning for adolescent mental and intellectual development. Much of what Dr. Markham has to say coincides with the Academies of Nashville, but one statement in particular stands out:
Inquiry into adolescent mental health, youth development, and developmental psychology has revealed the three core conditions required for young people to develop a “drive and thrive” outlook that leads to successful adulthood: experiencing mastery, finding meaning and fulfillment, and having a constructive relationship to a caring, adult mentor. These are the exact three factors crucial to effective PBL, which cannot succeed without a strong teacher-student relationship; a challenging, meaningful problem to be solved; and broad-based assessments that emphasize mastery and growth over time.
The Academies of Nashville are drawing on this important trend in education research to motivate our students by helping them create connections between their classroom learning and its real-world application through project-based learning.