Project Based Learning is one of Forman’s signature programs. Students across all disciplines are encouraged to pursue non-traditional approaches to learning. Each semester features a PBL Exhibition night which is an opportunity for students to discuss their learning, explain what the PBL was, what they did, and why they did it. The Fall 2018 event was held Sunday, November 4 from 6:30-7:00PM in the Student Center.
One of this year’s projects was done by six sophomore English classes taught by Cara Clarke and William Bucklin. The students read the classic essay “Self-Reliance” by Ralph Waldo Emerson. After reading and discussion, the students worked on a project that asked the question of whether they could be truly self-reliant in 2018.
The students discussed whether true self-reliance as defined by Emerson is a realistic goal today. Students also measured their own self-reliance through a daily questionnaire, interviewed adults and upperclassmen on the topic, and various teams made videos that summarized their overall findings.
A few students shared their thoughts about working on this PBL:
"This PBL was a very great experience where I was able to think deeply about what I do by myself for myself and how that ties into me growing up." Topher Gunsalus ‘21
"I think that by doing this PBL, I have a new look at how people are and can be self-reliant. Since we have started the PBL I've been thinking about how much I really rely on other people just to live a simple life." Enzo Conti ‘21
"Self reliance is not just a physical thing; it can also be a mental thing. You can also be mentally reliant on others. Some people rely on others for love or just to give them happiness. I believe that I am truly not very self-reliant mentally. I would not be able to live without certain people in my life giving me love and happiness. I do not think I would want to be self-reliant mentally. The message that I want to end with is that it does not matter how self-reliant you are as long as you're happy." Ben Wills ‘21
It was remarkable to see how well the thoughts in Emerson 1841 essay survived the passage of time into 2019 Forman 10th grade brains.