The future of education: beyond traditional learning
Amit Kothari, Executive Committee Member of Education Business Group (EBG), shares the long-term strategies that should be part of your child’s school experience, to help shape the generation of tomorrow.
With the academic year in full swing, it is essential for children’s schools to ensure a safe learning space that fosters collaboration, encourages innovation and sheds light on the importance of their wellbeing. As schools enter the new academic year, little ones are spending most of their time back in the classroom, having almost returned to the normal routine prior to the pandemic.
The Covid-19 pandemic has drastically changed the way schools operate and the way learning is conducted, and there are many positives to this. Having to adapt to the pressures and changes of the pandemic has shaken up the education system and provided an opportunity to examine the way children are educated. Moving forward and into the future, we can now see more than ever that it is essential for schools to ensure a safe learning space.
The Education Business Group (EBG), a non-profit formed under the umbrella of the Dubai Chamber of Commerce and Industry (DCCI), currently serves 53% of the city’s private school student cohort. Below are Education Business Group’s long-term strategies that private schools in Dubai need to consider to help shape the generation of tomorrow.
As students adapt to the new normal, mental wellbeing has become an outspoken, top priority for children, adolescents, parents and teachers alike. Therefore, it is essential for teachers to listen to any concerns that kids may have and demonstrate understanding, as well as empathy. Regular check-ins have been implemented in some schools to offer students the opportunity to have one-to-one conversations with their teachers and reconnect in an open environment.
For younger kids, teachers tend to be role models and can help shape their students in their transformation into young adults. It is common for children to mirror the way adult figures around them behave, so it is important for both parents and teachers to watch their actions and remain calm. Today, schools have been progressively incorporating mental health into the lives of children with activities such as yoga, meditation practices and breathing techniques.
Additionally, some schools have assigned dedicated wellbeing officers on campus, along with school counsellors. That being said, all your child truly needs is friendly classroom teachers who can offer guidance, advice and support to students.
SUSTAINABILITY AND ECO-LITERACY
Many schools are now trying to adhere to a ‘sustainability first’ ethos and maintain a green environment. Other initiatives include organising ecological activities that connect students to the environment, as well as making sure to include eco-literacy in the curriculum.
Projects and the environment
Project-based education and place-based learning are great ways to introduce kids to environmental responsibility. From growing their own fruits and vegetables, to separating recycling bins and reducing plastic use, or even joining beach clean-ups, there are many benefits to all environmental engagement. These and any other similar eco-friendly activities can become the steppingstone to building a sustainable mindset from a young age. Place-based learning also invites children to learn about the environment and study science in ecological locations, allowing them to learn first-hand about nature.
From an operational perspective, schools could work towards minimising their environmental impact, using solar power for energy needs, recycling water and implementing waste separation or even wind energy generation.
Fostering collaboration between students helps build interpersonal skills that prepare them for the real world.
For younger students, free play contributes to their cognitive, physical, social and emotional well-being. When schools don’t incorporate play into the curriculum, students tend to lack communication, collaboration and problem-solving skills. When children play, they learn to work together and figure things out without help from a teacher or an adult.
Interactive classroom activities are another teaching strategy that can enhance the likelihood of positive peer social interaction among students. These are activities that preclude one-way communication or individual learning, instead getting kids involved and engaged with the lessons or material. The great thing about this is that the activities are structured, so that students must interact with one another.
Safe learning space
Today, most public and private schools follow anti-bullying policies to protect children and encourage a friendly and inclusive environment. As most reported bullying situations arise at schools, staff and teachers should possess the know-how and tools to resolve such issues if they arise for your child. As some children are more reserved, teachers and parents should try to be aware of the warning signs – for example, sudden withdrawal from activities, loss of appetite, and change of attitude towards learning and friendships.
In line with the anti-bullying program organised by the Council of the UAE in collaboration with UNICEF, schools in Dubai are continuously ensuring that they build healthy and progressive relations between students, parents, caregivers and educational staff members.
With these ideas in mind, you should be able to assess whether your child’s school is future-facing and whether they are getting what they need out of their education, beyond traditional learning.