The following is a transcript from New South Wales parliament, where Dr. Geoff Lee, Member for Parramatta mentions Parramatta Marist High School (the first Australian school to implement PBL in full), who… “has opened up its classrooms and it provides a problem-based learning environment that challenges students and empowers them to work in teams to sort out their problems.”

Dr GEOFF LEE (Parramatta) [5.38 p.m.]: I bring to the attention of the House my support for local schools in the Parramatta electorate, particularly Yates Avenue Public School, Dundas Public School and Parramatta Marist High School. A few months ago I was fortunate to attend Yates Avenue Public School for its open day, in conjunction with Telopea community services, which was attended by hundreds of people. It was great to be part of the celebrations. That school’s successful community builder’s grant of $14,000 will modernise its out-of-hours school care facility not only for students but also for parents and teachers. Many rooms have been refurbished in this small school that has a big heart. It has a couple of new preschool rooms the opening of which will be eagerly awaited by me. I commend its principal, Tracey Lee, for her work in developing the school, in addition to Kirsten Groll and Jo Smith. I was provided with a delicious morning tea.

I met Jan Thurgar, principal of Dundas Public School, who runs an effective and well-loved school in the area. I also met Melissa McAulay, president of the parents and citizens association, who did most of the baking for the best morning tea I have ever had. I hope to be invited again to partake of the array of cakes, cookies and delicacies, which was akin to having high tea in Dundas. I also congratulate other members of the parents and citizens association—Sue King, Cath Willcox, Kim Thomas, Amanda Hao, Connie Sheaves and Mary Mansell—who spent time with me to discuss some of the issues of importance to their community, for example, Local Schools, Local Decisions. They told me what that program meant for their school and they were well informed of its implications.

They acknowledged some of the challenges that it would present for principals and said that it seemed like the good idea to give principals more scope as they were are at the heart of decision-making in the areas of investment and staffing arrangements. I have referred on other occasions in this Chamber to Parramatta Marist High School. Full credit goes to its principal, Brother Patrick Howlett, who runs a good school which has a problem-based approach to learning. As a former teacher I am aware that it is difficult to teach adolescent boys or young men. However, this school has opened up its classrooms and it provides a problem-based learning environment that challenges students and empowers them to work in teams to sort out their problems. It was great to see the involvement of staff.

That technology high school has achieved success as a result of its curriculum changes to problem-based learning, its use of technology and the time and effort it has invested in staff. I also commend assistant principals Peter Stephens and Shane Morris, business manager Anne Clark, leader of pedagogy Gavin Hays, religious education coordinator Kurt Challinor, Karyn West and Adam Henry for their work. I have often been asked whether alternative education is as good as chalk and talk where the teacher is the conveyor of all knowledge. Problem-based learning offers students a valuable tool and empowers them to learn by resolving their own problems. I commend Parramatta Marist High School on being named last year as being in the top 100 schools throughout the State. Well done, Parramatta Marist.

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In 2009 I was in Year 6 and was bored out of my brain…getting the marks but not looking forward to go to school everyday. I asked myself everyday: Can’t somebody make education more engaging?

I went off to high school and fell in love. Our school has been doing Project Based Learning based on the NewTech Network model of teaching in the United States. In Year 7 I started PBL in Science and in Year 8 PDHPE (Personal Development, Health and Physical Education) and Science. Now that I am in Year 9 I am currently in my first full year of PBL at a school in Sydney’s West. The subjects that I do are a social studies class that is a combined English and HSIE class, CathTech a combined Catholic Studies and IST (Information Software Technology) Class and a Science class all based on the PBL model. I then do Maths and PDHPE like every other school in the diocese.

What is Project Based Learning

There is never a correct answer in PBL. Thats what I love about it, you use your brain and are not just being fed the information anymore. Learning with PBL is very engaging.

In this blog I will talk about my experiences, thoughts and ideas of learning with PBL and how it made me a better student. PBL prepares students for 21st century jobs and thats what I love about it.

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