“What is the next lesson?”

“PW.”

“PW again? I haven’t written a word.”

“The due date for the PI is…”

“Oh, no, I am going to fail it…”

This is a scene almost synonymous with Project Work lessons for many of the J1s, who are working on our GPPs as we speak. Every time the teacher announce a deadline, it is followed by a series of groans from the students. Indeed, Project Work has been nothing short of exhausting for the students in the school.

Even with the numerous competitions, events and performances coming up over the next few days, PW remains a major talking point amongst the J1s. Hours of research, struggling to meet deadlines, last-minute printing of documents; these have all become a part of a J1’s everyday life.s. As a new subject that most of us have never been exposed to, many of the students find it challenging to cope with PW. However, there are also students who admit that it does help them learn new things, even though it has only started for a few weeks.

This year’s topics are “Expansion” and “Achievements”, which seem similar to last year’s – abstract, with much room for discussion. What plagued many of the students is the second bullet point “Explain why it (achievement or expansion) is important,what it’s impact is on the community concerned,  and show how your findings might be applied to benefit a different community.” Many students found it hard to find two completely different communities that have problems which can be addressed by the same concepts. We talked to some students about the difficulties they faced in coming up with ideas for their PIs.

“That means if you copy the concept directly from your model group to your target group, it is exceedingly likely that you will be marked down because of lack of creativity. Nevertheless, if your model and target are addressed by disparate solutions, it is exceedingly likely that you will be marked down because you didn’t address the question. There is a fine line to tread to get the right answer, making things confusing for me.” — Zhu Xingyu 16S38

Apart from the ambiguity of the question, what was challenging to students, sitting in classrooms all day, was also the lack of real world experience. Project work is about observing the world in great detail, spotting the problems and then solving them to make the world a better place. Busy with studies, CCAs, and volunteer programmes, we tend to have little experience in the workplace or in society. Therefore, when it comes crafting out a solution to solve a particular problem in the society, we tend to be unrealistic and unable to come up with a feasible solution.

“My project was related to supermarkets. Based on what our teacher had shared with us, in order for the project to stand out from the mediocre ones, the preliminary ideas we submitted must be appealing to any of the managers in the supermarket and make them want to embark on the project. As someone who has little managerial experience, I found it hard to think from a manager’s perspective.”  —Zhao Jingyang 16S49

The above-mentioned challenges are simply  the tip of the iceberg of what we face when we are doing PW. Different people might have different struggles: Unable to meet deadlines, unable to keep to the word limit, rejection of ideas, time management… However, it does not mean that PW is completely a torture for us.

I remember when we had a lunch with our senior class, one of our seniors shared with us his passion for PW. I felt surprised when I discovered there are actually students who love this subject. After getting our hands dirty, it seems to me that this is a mentality shared by quite a number of students.

“Although I hate staying up late for PW, I have taken away some lessons from this few month’s experience. The most important lesson is to pay attention to the small little things around me. I realised that big issues related to politics or economics are hard to manage. The best approach is to start from a small aspect of society and expand from there. The topic that some of our seniors did last year on concert-goers is quite a good example. I guess it is also the purpose of this subject to get us pay more attention to challenges faced by society.”— Zhao Jingyang, 16S49

Apart from learning lessons about life, students also become more knowledgeable about the issue which their projects centre around.

“My project was about ex-convicts. I’ve discovered that many people tend to be prejudiced against them. Firms and employers are reluctant to trust them. Previously, I thought I was not one of these prejudicial people. However, after researching this issue, I realised I actually had a lot of preconceived notions about them, which made me no different from others who discriminate against them.”  — Zhu Xingyu, 16S32

We have barely begun to embark on our Project Work journey, and there are already so many lessons to learn. What seems interesting to me is that these lessons are unique and vary from one person to another. I guess this is Project Work—Unlike chemistry, physics and biology, in which we all learn the same content, PW is something personal, from which we can learn unique lessons beyond the classroom.

Paul Sim, 16A13

Liu Jiayi, 16S52

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