Falling And Getting Back Up

Like many people, I've always enjoyed building things. I'm happy personally and professionally when I'm in a position to build something that's meaningful. I don't think I'm unique in this way. 

I recall building a "fort" with some friends when I was about 12. We built it in an empty lot behind my parents' house during a hot and dry Utah summer. It was quite the construction job as I'm sure you can imagine. It was put together about like you would expect from 12 year-old boys, complete with a scrap metal tin roof and flooring that included unused ceramic tiles that were left over from when my family completed a second bathroom in the basement a year or so earlier. 


One day, several of us were sitting on lawn chairs on top of the fort admiring the view that we had created. We were on top of the world (10 feet off the ground to be exact) as we discussed how our hard work had produced such a stunning and sturdy place to hang out. While we were all sitting on the roof, and without warning, everything came crashing down. It was quite a shock and but it happened so fast that before we knew it, we were spred out on the ground or lying on the collapsed roof. This time, at ground level. It didn't take long to gather that we were all uninjured. But the fort was a different story- it was completely ruined. It wasn't quite as sturdy as we thought. 

I've thought about this experience often in my life. But as unexpected as the fall was, it isn't what normally comes to mind. I think of the actual construction project. It took the better part of the summer, and during that time we all learned much more about teamwork, perserverance, and of course resourcefulness than we ever learned of failure. The sting of the collapsing roof was gone quickly, because we were already busy planning the second phase of the fort project. This time, it would be bigger, better, and stronger. We were sure of it. 

The process of building, testing, failing, and rebuilding is why I love Project Based Learning (PBL). When done correctly, PBL schools give students the freedom to explore, fall down, and eventually build themselves back up into something bigger and better than before. Effective PBL schools incorporate meaningul and necessary curriculum that enhances essential learning and prepares students for college, career and life. 

If you're currently looking for a school for your student, I encourage you to choose a school with a PBL focus. I'm convinced that if PBL-focused schools would have been available when I was younger I would have enjoyed school much more and I would have been more prepared for college and career. And, maybe the roof of the fort wouldn't have collapsed either. 

Mark Holley
Mark Holley
Mark is the co-founder of Method Schools and SmartFox and has been working in the marketing and finance areas of K-12 education for two decades. He holds a B.S. in Business from Utah Valley University and an MBA from Brigham Young University. In his spare time he’s usually on his mountain bike.

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