The New 5 Cs are the New PBL: The Old Cs Are Useless | Thom Markham | 4 Min Read

November 13, 2023

[Second in a series: Beyond PBL; go to Part 1]

In case you missed it, fungi are pretty smart. Research reveals fungi, like mushrooms, as being closer to animals than plants. Fungal mycelia—the underground network we can’t see—show decision-making and alter their developmental patterns in response to interactions with other organisms. Mycelia may even be capable of spatial recognition and learning coupled with a facility for short-term memory.  

Since we share almost 50% of our DNA with mushrooms, I consider that good news for humans. 

It might also be a clue to the most radical change educators can make: To stop relying on the brain alone to explain intelligence. Intelligence is still a deep mystery to science, but our current view of ‘smart’ in education says it originates in a neural network composed of 86 billion neurons. It only happens inside us. Yet fungi tell us the opposite: Intelligence is communal and ecological, not individual. Since half of the 10 billion miles of DNA in our cells has a common ancestry, perhaps we should pay attention.

I’ve always taken the position that project-based learning is the ‘natural’ way to learn. PBL…

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Thom Markham

Thom Markham is an educator, regenerative psychologist, and global entrepreneur. Thom pioneered the worldwide buildout of project-based learning and human development programs for youth and is the author of Redefining Smart: Awakening Students’ Power to Reimagine Their World. Currently, his work is focused on turning schools green through deep sustainability. He shares his ideas in Rx for the Planet, with Dr. Thom, a newsletter designed to prod human thinking beyond convention and assumption.