Project-Based Learning (PBL) and Social-Emotional Learning (SEL) are experiencing a level of interest from schools that is unprecedented. I had the good fortune to direct the Comparative Arts (now Interdisciplinary Arts) department at the Interlochen Arts Academy from 2014-2018. We were a small department of 15 students, give or take. I felt like a student as well; 90% of the time I had little or no prior knowledge of the topics we would investigate. Unfamiliar with PBL and SEL, I was inspired by two similar European education models: the Finnish “Teaching by Phenomenon” and the Italian “Reggio Emilia” approach to learning.
In Heart & Art, the purpose was clear and simple. We wanted to learn about ways of healing the heart.
How does one do that?
Collaborating with the biology and physics department, we were able to easily align the academic curriculum with this project. More time-consuming on my part was forging a relationship with the Cardiology unit at our local hospital which allowed us to…