Danny Gilliland is Head of Growth and Impact at HundrED.org – a not-for-profit organization which seeks and shares inspiring innovations in K12 education. HundrED.org is a member of the 21st Century Skills Coalition joined by different public and private organizations to promote the development of 21st century skills in Latin America and the Caribbean.
There is a lot of concern globally around school closures and students falling behind on their education. Even more worrying is differences in parental involvement and technology further exacerbating inequality. With the most privileged affording private tutors and fiber-optic internet to the poorest experiencing domestic abuse and not so much as a household radio. Some children will return to school without missing much while others may not return at all.
But while this outlook is bleak, there is also an opportunity to re-evaluate what we learn in formal education and why we learn it. After all, what good is advanced math or science without knowledge of sanitation, maintaining mental health, or basic nutrition? This crisis is a test of all levels of education on the skills we have developed. Do we have a growth mindset that can adapt and see areas of development, or do we suffer mentally and/or physically during shelter-in-place?
It has never been more clear that the role of formal education needs to go far beyond traditional subjects to focus on the very skills that allow children to flourish in life, no matter what happens. At HundrED, we are optimistic that this will be a catalyst for accelerating change in education to a direction that better prepares everyone for whatever the next crisis is, from global pandemics to personal challenges. Here are a few inspiring examples of innovations in meditation, solidarity, and wellness that help parents and children do just that:
We want children to be healthy and happy, not just now but for the rest of their lives. And teaching them about meditation early would help them do just that. That’s why we created Headspace for Kids to learn the life-changing skill of meditation in just a few minutes a day with Headspace.
During our global health crisis, when many of us are working and learning from home, how can we be in solidarity & contribute to the story of humanity with attention & integrity? Stories for Solidarity by Global Oneness Project is exploring how stories can meaningfully connect us to each other and ourselves through an online community event series with storytellers. Stories have the potential to bring us closer together.
It’s important to be evaluating students’ mental and emotional wellbeing daily. School Day @ Home covers four wellbeing areas that are relevant especially when students study from home. It prompts students to answer a few research-based questions about their wellbeing and emotions daily. It takes 30 seconds. The School Day App can be used to share information about wellbeing-related topics.
In a truly global crisis, we can all learn from each other to use solutions from other countries in an attempt to arise from this situation better than how we entered it. This is true in healthcare, economics, wellbeing, education, and social emotional interactions. Our students should also be building the habit of learning from each other, since this pandemic will have far-reaching impacts on their lives in nearly every way. Here are a few innovations that students can use to learn from other students and teachers from around the world:
PenPal Schools connects students from around the world to learn together. Students collaborate through online projects ranging from human rights and the environment to fake news and robotics, all while practicing literacy, technology and social emotional skills.
Outschool brings motivated learners, parents, and teachers together to create great learning experiences. Classes meet in small groups over live video chat where students are safely connected with teachers and classmates who share their interests. Live online group classes are social and thus provide more engaging and valuable than passive online content.
One thing no one knows is just how long some of the closures and physical distancing measures around the world will last. Living in this level of uncertainty is uncomfortable for most and debilitating for some. But perhaps that is the greatest lesson of all. If we can learn to not just be comfortable but thrive in the face of uncertainty, this situation may be just what we didn’t know we needed to better prepare ourselves for the future.