What Are We Trying To Solve
“Social and Emotional Learning is about the education of the human heart. The future of human civilization and the protection of the planet depends on the evolution of the human heart and these methodologies are utterly essential.” (David Sawyer, Converge, Education Reformer)
Project Rangeet’s (in Hindi “Rang” = Colour” and “Geet” = Song / Music) goal is to help children learn to thrive and become better learners equipped to succeed not only today, but in a rapidly changing global world that continues to evolve over the coming decades. It achieves this by teaching 21st century skills through music, art, games and storytelling.
The world of tomorrow will be shaped by the problems facing us today: climate change and pandemics, racial disharmony and geopolitics and the attendant stress that accompanies these scorching issues which our children need to be prepared for. Developing empathy for oneself, one another and all life on earth, using techniques such as joyful learning, play and 21st century skills leads not just to stronger children who are better equipped for a world this generation has not seen, but also better all around learners.
“We are living in schools that are solving the problems of 25 years ago: wonderful maths teaching but not if there are no elephants left to count; amazing redesign of English but not if there are no forests left to describe.” (Sean Bellamy, Sand’s School UK)
How Are We Trying To Solve It
Current education systems in most countries do not prepare children to thrive. Most systems have their rote learning roots tracing back to a “factory model” that emerged in the early 20th century to mould students for the industrial economy with the teacher being the purveyor of information, and the children the empty vessels to be filled with information (Brookings Institution, Policy 2020). These are the systems of a bygone era when the architects could not have even imagined the future of today. If such systems are dated for today, they are necessarily crippling for the future. In fact, over time, school has become less satisfying and more stressful for both teachers and students. Teachers, education experts, policymakers and even politicians are urging for new methods of teaching, recognising that children learn better through joyful learning and as active participants in their own learning process. “Policy and curriculum needs to be agile, razor sharp and the designers need to use their imagination and intention to already be working in the schools of 2040 now.“ (Sean Bellamy, Sand’s School, UK)
Significant research shows that music, play and drawing have important roles in developing empathy and social cohesion among children (Akos, 2000; Nancy and Greene, 1995; Kalliopuska and Ruokonen, 1993; Rogers, 1989). Learning through games is also a powerful way of developing social and emotional learning in young people (Hromek and Roffey, 2009). Hence, the role of the teacher, or facilitator, is crucial to the success of this approach, both in modeling appropriate skills and creating learning connections for students (Hromek and Roffey, 2009).
If the child of 2050 has employment opportunities that we haven’t yet imagined or is competing against robots that do math faster than they do, or can visualize and solve science problems easier than they do, then how do we equip children for this future?
21st century children need 21st century skills to keep up with the lightning pace of today, no matter what path they choose or culture they come from. They require a combination of learning, literacy and life skills. Each skill is unique but essential in the internet age. Schools should encourage this “breadth of skills approach” adapting how they teach to how children learn. Child centered, pedagogical methods like playful learning and multiple intelligences that ensure that “no child is left behind” should be employed (The Brookings Institution, Policy 2020; Howard Gardner’s Multiple Intelligences, 2019 updated).
Schools should be vehicles through which children can learn necessary 21st century skills (including the 6Cs) to function successfully in the present and future. Skills which will always be relevant, including:
- Collaboration and social engagement.
- Communication through listening, writing, reading and back and forth discussion.
- Thinking critically, as only a human brain can, helps navigate a vast sea of content whilst allowing them to find solutions.
- Creativity. Students must be challenged to think outside the box.
- Confidence. A school of the future is a place where learning improves due to the confidence and compassion exhibited by its students.
- Flexibility. Children must learn how to adapt to changing circumstances, thus developing resilience.
- Leadership. Motivating others to accomplish a goal.
- Initiative. Planning, starting projects and strategising on one’s own.
(The Brookings Institution, Policy 2020; Applied Education Systems, 2020)
The report can be found here: Brookings Policy 2020. Please note Project Rangeet has been mentioned in this report as an example of a project promoting joyful learning. In addition the UN has endorsed Project Rangeet as a global best practice in this area of learning: The UN Features Project Rangeet.