Self-directed Learning, a form of learning, where learners are in the driver seat of their own learning, has been seen to deliver great results for the educators, who around the world, are researching and deploying strategies that engage classrooms deeply. During self-directed learning, learners learn independently, setting their own goals and evaluating on their own during the course of learning.

Experiential learning, a more commonly understood approach by the educators, refers to conscious events and perceptions, leading to practical knowledge and familiarity through observations. It focuses on an individual’s learning process and aims at development of skills – such as memory, creativity, and sensitivity – to achieve knowledge. There are various approaches to experiential learning, one of which is project based learning.

Self-directed learning combined with experiential learning gives rise to Personal Projects as a learning tool. At Prakriti, learners get the opportunity to explore a topic of their individual liking by means of a personal project. Glimpses of their project presentations are captured here:

The purpose is to build an ecosystem for independent thinking and learning. For some it could be furthering their known areas of interests, while for others it could be searching for and discovering what triggers them on. While the topic and execution is entirely driven by the learner, mentors facilitate this process of self-discovery.

In a broader perspective, a personal project aims at developing meta-cognition skills, ie, awareness and understanding of one’s own thought processes. The learners should be able to reflect upon their ability to learn independently, manage time, overcome difficulties and collaborate with the mentor.

Learners, Grades 4 onward have been involved in personal projects this year at Prakriti. Here, each learner chose a topic of his/her interest and developed into a project. Projects ranged from research reports, to practically building things, to conducting workshops. Children chose topics as diverse as studying how ships work, researching about the origins of Puranas (ancient scriptures), learning to do digital art, to building a firewood oven (and baking pizza in it). We are updating our website with video presentations of the learners’ projects:

The core idea of personal project based learning is to connect learners’ experiences with academics and to give then agency over learning concepts and skills that transfer to other domains of learning. Learners benefit from discoveries and experiments, while exploring personal and others’ real world experiences at the same time. Here, the teacher works like a sounding board and not a facilitator, mentoring the learner with thought-provoking questions and ideas.

Learning focuses not just on cognitive progress, but also on social and emotional growth – which could be at least, if not more, important. This approach calls for a deeper understanding of the problem through ownership and concrete experience, reflective observation, abstract conceptualization and active experimentation , refer to David Kolb’s model to know more.

In this blog, we’re discussing a few of the projects to understand how this approach brought the best out of these 8-13 year olds. In this first edition, we have provided glimpses into a few projects from our middle school. Experience the learner journeys on developing characters, a game, skilling as a barista and being a blogger with book reviews.