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Develpoment Education

What is Sustainable Education and Why is it Important?

Photo by Artem Podrez from Pexels

We live in the era of Information and Technology. Today, we are surrounded by knowledge and have answers that were once even beyond imagination.

What is the Earth made of? How does the moon taste? What are stars? How do Robots work? We know all this today but at the cost of our natural resources. For centuries, we have been burning through our resources in order to satiate our undying curiosity. Now, just like Robert Frost, we have reached a fork in our path and must choose which road we must take.

Sustainable Education or Education for Sustainable Development (ESD) promotes the development of skills and values required to create a sustainable future.

Sustainable Future

Sustainable education for the future
Source

So, what exactly is a Sustainable Future? Well, it refers to creating a future in which we are no longer threatened. A future that ensures environmental protection and conservation, promotes social equity, and encourages economic sustainability.

[Economic Sustainability promotes using, safeguarding, and sustaining resources (human and material) to create long-term sustainable values by optimal use, recovery, and recycling.]

In many ways, Sustainable Future does seem like a utopian society, and hence, a pipedream. However, sustainable education is something that will help us close this gap.

A Sustainable Future is a necessity to ensure the survival of Earth and its denizens. We are bound to run out of resources. Therefore, it is important to put our future needs ahead of our current needs.

~Here is an article from UNESCO on the importance of Sustainable Education.~

Tips for Teaching Sustainability

Teaching sustainability
Source

All the tips that I’m about to mention are from an excellent research article you can find here. I will be shortening the points in order to try to get them across easily.

1. Student OverLoad

Firstly, teachers should see to it that students don’t get overwhelmed or depressed by the global environmental crises. Emotional overload can make the student feel powerless or even resentful, which can disrupt the learning process.

Instead, teachers should discuss environmental success stories. This may include discussion of environmental policies or movements that have succeeded in mitigating pollution, conserving resources, or promoting ecological resiliency.

2. Quality of Life Issues

Students learning about environmental issues for the first time can easily feel that their entire lifestyle is threatened by resource limits and the environmentalists who champion living simply.

Furthermore, educators can sometimes add to this sense of threat by taking a moralizing prescriptive and unyielding approach to more sustainable lifestyles. 

Therefore, a better way to approach the issues is defining happiness and quality of life.

3. Things to Teach

Firstly, teachers must engage the students with group discussions. Doing so will allow cross-communication among them. This can also lead to problem-solving sessions and debates; teachers can also assign group projects for this.

Teachers must also teach students to analyze data for themselves. Rather than just reading about data, they should have the ability to decode data and analyze it for themselves. This will not only give them insight but also empower them.

Spend time investigating the historical origins and conflicting uses of environmental terminology such as “sustainability,” “environmentalism,” “stewardship,” and “nature”.

Some of the topics that are important here are:

* Precautionary Principle

The precautionary principle states that, if an action risks causing harm to the public or the environment, and there is no scientific consensus that it is indeed harmful, the burden of proof that it is NOT harmful falls on those taking the action.

* Interdisciplinarity

A critical and thorough understanding of issues related to environmental sustainability necessarily involves contributions from a wide variety of disciplines. Therefore, learning about the interdisciplinary nature of sustainable actions is necessary.

* #Envision2030

Finally, let’s talk about Envision 2030. In September 2015, the General Assembly adopted the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development that includes 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

The new Agenda emphasizes a holistic approach to achieving sustainable development for all.

Of course, Sustainable Education is necessary for us to achieve these goals, everyone should be educated about them and actively work towards them.

Sustainable development goals
Source

The Sustainable Development Goals are:

  1. No Poverty
  2. Zero Hunger
  3. Good Health and Well-being
  4. Quality Education
  5. Gender Equality
  6. Clean Water and Sanitation
  7. Affordable and Clean Energy
  8. Decent Work and Economic Growth
  9. Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure
  10. Reduced Inequality
  11. Sustainable Cities and Communities
  12. Responsible Consumption and Production
  13. Climate Action
  14. Life Below Water
  15. Life on Land
  16. Peace and Justice Strong Institutions
  17. Partnerships to achieve the Goal

Conclusion

I hope you understand the dire need for Sustainable Education. The good news is that we are close to our goals. The more people who support sustainable Education, the closer we get to saving our planet. So, let us take the pledge to promote Sustainable Education and be sustainable in our daily lives.

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Develpoment Learning

Emotions and Their Power: Do We Need Positivity?

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What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.

Ever heard someone say this for you to go, “What nonsense are you spewing?” Well, now is it total crap? Technically, not so much. 

Many psychological studies on emotions seem to emphasize this, albeit in a more scientific way (which most of us can’t understand). Psychologists often avoided studying emotions as they are hard to quantify or measure. Even when they eventually started studying them, their focus was on the negative emotions and in figuring out ways to treat them or reduce harm from these emotions (obviously, since they are almost constant in life).

via GIPHY

Martin Seligman, a well-known psychologist in the field of Positive Psychology, is the one who shed some light on how positive emotions shape human lives. Many others followed him and turned to these positive emotions in hopes of making lives better for us (I wonder if that is even possible at this point). 

Why not positive emotions, to begin with? 

Why did psychologists see negative emotions to be of much importance? Well, negative emotions prepare us for a particular set or range of actions. Let’s say you are scared of clowns. One day, you spot a clown at a circus or a birthday party. What would your immediate response be? You will look for safety—be it through fight or flight. 

Why do we need these actions? To survive— giving birth to offspring and generating generations upon generations is the only thing humans truly strive for (which is again debatable to an extent, or is it?). If you stand in front of an elephant that is running wild without acting in a fight or flight mode, you would, of course, be trampled to death. In short, negative emotions keep you alive. 

via GIPHY

Then what are positive emotions for? Do we even need them? 

I would say, not really; we don’t need them. We can have them if we want to (as ironic as it sounds)—“Be positive, be positive” might be a great mantra to tell yourself to feel positive. This Learned Optimism reduces stress levels and improves cardiovascular health, says Martin Seligman in his research on Authentic Happiness. However, is it good to be positive all the time? No. Sometimes it is dangerous to be positive. 

Let’s say you are facing a hungry lion. You are such a positive person that you think the lion would just walk away because you are not trying to harm it. Any animal would only harm us when it sees us as a danger, right? Well, guess what? The lion just pounced on you and tore you into pieces till it satiated its hunger. Damn, now you are not alive to feel positive anymore. Meaning, being positive tend to get you killed.

via GIPHY

Does this mean we should only cultivate negative emotions? 

Do we eliminate our association with positive emotions? Apparently not. Barbara Frederickson, another well-known positive psychologist, puts forth the theory of Broaden and Build of Positive Emotions for this exact reason. This theory stresses that we need both types of emotions in dealing with life. 

As much as negative emotions are necessary for survival and immediate response, positive emotions give you a broader perspective or a big picture. Negative emotions let you choose between a limited number of options, while positive emotions let you find creative ways of tackling a situation. Therefore, positive emotions act as a way of building resources to cope with our negative feels. 

via GIPHY

How positivity aids the learning process?

Yes, I ranted about all of that to talk about learning. The play of emotions (negative and positive) is big in learning outcomes. Don’t believe me? Let me convince you. 

Have you ever wondered why learners often avoid studying a subject they don’t like? Or why don’t they seem to grasp the matter even when they give extra time to that particular subject? Well, it has to do with the fact that our brain is wired to invest its energy in things it likes. 

via GIPHY

Not liking a subject is linked to negative emotions, and as we have already discussed, we tend to either fight it or run away from it. We can reduce this kind of avoidance in learners by cultivating positive thoughts towards the subject learners dislike. Interpreting the subject differently and linking it with things the learners like is an effective way to push them towards that subject, little by little. 

Conclusion

To conclude, be negative to stay alive. However, if you want to extend your lifespan and the quality of your life, you better adopt some methods of positive intervention. 

(I feel this blog has become a rant at this point, but here it is anyway. Stop controlling others’ emotions. Let them decide what to feel and express when. Agree?) 

via GIPHY

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Develpoment Education Learning

7 Learning Styles You Need To Know

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“Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid.”

Albert Einstein

Every student is different and learns differently and must be taught differently so that they may learn and understand the world around them. This is where different learning styles come into the picture.

In this article I will be exploring different learning styles, analyzing, presenting my thoughts as well trying to find if any one of them is a superior style of learning.

Before we begin, let me preface this by saying that these 7 learning styles that I am going to talk about are not absolute. According to different sources, the number of styles ranges anywhere from 4-8, 7 just seems to be one that sits with me the best.

And of course, I recommend that you do your own research. Let’s go!

Visual Learning Style

It is the model in which the learner needs to see information in order to process it. Visual Learning employs the use of graphs, maps, charts, diagrams, etc.

It is an advantageous style since in a general lecture a student might get distracted and miss out on a part of the lecture. However, using visual learning, these learners are likely to have a photographic memory and may use color, tone, and brightness to recall information. In the visual learning style, educators can teach and learners learn from even YouTube videos.

Visual Learning, however, can also be strenuous, since a lot of people do not enjoy drawing diagrams and poor diagrams will only hinder understanding; the same goes for inaccurate diagrams.

Aural Learning Style

The Aural Learning style is one in which the learners are able to absorb knowledge by listening. These are the people who are able to pay a lot of attention in classes and are able to answer concepts after listening about them.

It is seen that these learners are also proficient in language and acting, and are able to follow instructions to the point. Many school systems follow Aural Learning as it is much easier to apply when teaching.

A lot of subjects are taught exclusively in aural mode with the students having the option to take notes (higher classes).

Verbal Learning Style

In this Learning Style, the Learners prefer speaking out in order to remember concepts. Verbal Learning is similar to Aural and generally learners who are good at these, excel in school.

Verbal Learning is a good way to practice concepts and language at the same time. People efficient in this learning style tend to be good writers and actors. Some students also use Visual Learning along with Verbal by associating a place with a thing.

Physical Learning Style

Physical Learning refers to a person’s ability to process information physically through hand and body movement, control, and expression. It is also known as Tactile-Kinesthetic Learning Style.

In some ways, all children are natural physical learners. As babies, they rely on their sense of touch to grasp new ideas and concepts. If a child learns best by immersing himself in physical activities, he’s kinesthetic. These kids like to move and get their whole bodies involved in activities.

An example of a kinaesthetic learning experience is when a child learns to use a swing or to ride a bike. It is unfortunately a Learning Style that schools do not focus much on.

Logical Learning Style

These learners can make connections and recognize patterns with ease, and work well with numbers. They have a very systematic approach to learning and are excellent at keeping organized.

They make good scientists and mathematicians as these students are easily able to understand complicated concepts of Mathematics, Science, and Coding.

Among other learning styles, logical learning is one of a kind, as it is more of a skill that needs to be honed over time. This is a skill that can be developed over time with consistent studying and logical problem-solving. Personally, I would suggest playing strategy games like chess (not expert advice).

Social Learning Style

Social learners are typically strong at both verbal and nonverbal communication. They are often the people who listen well and give advice. Professional areas to consider for social learners include counseling, coaching, human resources, and sales.

These learners are extroverts and are very social. They work well in teams whether as a leader or a member and generally this is where they shine the most.

Again, this is a skill that is developed by interacting with the public and undertaking group projects.

Solitary Learning Style

Solitary learning style is the opposite of Social Learning; learners of this style work alone and are generally introverts.

They hardly talk to anyone and never want to participate in group projects, rather choosing to their projects on their own. They might be social in their free time but like to fly solo.

A prime example of solitary learning style is private tutoring and homeschooling, where children are mostly the only student. These learners end up being better at teaching and learning in a one-on-one session.

Conclusion

At the beginning of this Article, I said that I wanted to find out which style is the best. However, it seems impossible to judge that.

Each style is useful and important; each student learns differently so for each student the answer is different. I don’t like anticlimactic endings but it seems that I am at a stalemate here.

If you enjoyed this article, drop me a comment; See you soon!

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Develpoment Education

NGOs That Are Working Towards Better Education

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At the time of writing, there are an estimated 10 million NGOs (non-governmental organizations) operating worldwide. An NGO is a non-profit organization that works independently of any government, carrying out a wide range of activities for the benefit of underprivileged people and society at large.

There are more than 600,000 NGOs in Australia whose employees make up 8% of the country’s workforce whereas in India there is an NGO for every 400 people. (3.3 million approx.)

NGOs are also strengthening today’s education system in various parts of the world; since they are independent of the government, they are free of any education system/board, which has proven to be a blessing.

Foundations working for education (ex: Oxfam) play an important role in supporting the most vulnerable children access their Right to Education.

Why are NGOs necessary?

NGOs are important for providing education, especially in countries where not everyone has access to education, due to either “tradition” or lack of funds.

Therefore, they help provide these people with the education they need in order to live a happy life, the government also supports NGOs with various schemes.

NGOs generally identify the most vulnerable children and help enroll them in schools under the Right to Education Act. Oxfam, for example, also provides gap classes for students who have missed a few years.

How do NGOs Work

NGOs take up and execute projects to promote welfare of the community they work with. Different types of NGOs exist which deal with different aspects and sectors of society, including community based, civil society, environmental, educational, etc.

NGOs are funded through membership dues, the sale of certain goods and services, however most of their funding comes from philanthropic foundations, donations and grants from local and federal agencies/private companies.

Such organizations seek out people who need help as well as people who want to help the less fortunate, hiring as well as working with these people for the benefit of everyone.

Notable NGOs

Here I am mentioning a few notable NGOs, along with that there are links present where you can donate to them, even a little makes a difference.

BRAC

Building Resources Across Communities (BRAC) is an international development organization based in Bangladesh. It is the largest NGO in the world. Apart from Bangladesh, BRAC is present in 11 countries in Asia, Africa, and America. As of the end of 2012, it had more than 22,700 non-formal primary schools with a combined enrolment of 670,000 children

Mercy Corps

Mercy Corps is Global Non-governmental, Humanitarian Aid organization. The organization has claimed to have aided over 220 million people to survive conflicts, seek improvement, deliver development, etc.

Mercy Corps’ SAFE (abbreviation of Supporting Adolescent Girls’ Future through Second Chance Education) School program helps adolescent girls from vulnerable households get admitted to schools.

Oxfam

Oxfam is a confederation of 20 independent charitable organizations focusing on the alleviation of global poverty, led by Oxfam International. It is a major nonprofit group with an extensive collection of operations. Oxfam has several Education programs and runs its own bookstores.

World Vision International

World Vision International is an evangelical Christian humanitarian aid, development, and advocacy organization. It prefers to present itself as interdenominational and also employs staff from non-evangelical Christian denominations.

World Vision runs a child sponsorship program that aims to help needy children, families, and communities access clean drinking water, sanitation, education, skills for future livelihood.

Providing Education

NGOs use a lot of different and innovative ways to provide education. Apart from enrolling children in school, they hold regular counselling sessions to encourage parents to send their kids to school.

Oxfam, for example, also has management committees made of teachers, students, and parents. This committee helps take accountability in children and school’s development and also hold skill-development workshops.

They also follow a few more strategies such as supporting paid volunteers from the communities in order to check the dropping out of children; providing in-service training to teachers; or supporting the management of schools.

Most of these are carried out on the basis of a formal agreement with the state governments.

Conclusion

NGOs provide opportunities and help people who cannot help themselves. They not only provide education but, at large, give someone a new lease on their life.

The sheer number of NGOs implies that there are people who care. People who are willing to do something for others and not expect much in return. With the right support from the privileged, these NGOs get to continue doing what they are doing.

Thanks for reading folks, drop a comment if you enjoyed the article; I will see you soon.

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Develpoment Education

Ways to Teach Students with Learning Disabilities

If a child can’t learn the way we teach, maybe we should teach the way they learn

Ignacio Estrada

Children learn a lot of skills throughout their lives— reading, writing, listening, comprehending, calculating, and communicating. Some skills are more difficult to master than others. Every kid is unique and has varied needs. When some kids learn these skills really quickly, others struggle to keep up with their peers.

Surprisingly, learning disabilities or special learning abilities are rather prevalent, yet often misunderstood with academic failure. Kids with special needs fail to develop the knowledge, competence, motivation, and self-control needed to excel in important academic areas. They often drop out of school and end up being vulnerable to precarious employment prospects.

However, various research studies have proved that we can teach kids with learning disabilities to “learn how to learn”.

There are multiple institutions and support groups all around the world that are committed to helping these kids overcome the challenges including the British Institute of Learning Disabilities, National Center for Learning Disabilities, Council for Learning Disabilities, Mencap – The Voice of Learning Disabilities, Foundation for People with Learning Disabilities, and more.

In this blog, we will discuss the various ways we can teach students with learning disabilities.  Let’s dive in.

What are Learning Disabilities?

Learning disability is a phrase that refers to a variety of learning and thinking differences that can alter how the brain receives, processes, stores, and transmits data. The disabilities impair one’s use of spoken or written language, comprehend, perform mathematical computations, coordinate movements, or focus attention.

Children with learning impairments are just as smart as their peers, if not smarter. However, they may have difficulties writing, reading, spelling, reasoning, recalling and organizing if left to their own devices or taught in traditional ways.

According to Healthline, Dyslexia is the most prevalent learning disorder, accounting for 80 to 90% of all learning disabilities.

The most common Learning Disabilities or Special Learning Abilities include:

  1. Dyslexia – It is a learning disorder that impairs the kid’s ability to read, spell and speak.
  2. Dyscalculia – It refers to the difficulty in understanding numbers, retaining simple mathematical facts, or reasoning through word problems.
  3. Dysgraphia- The disorder impairs the individual’s ability to express themselves in writing. They may take hours to write a few sentences or have poor spelling problems.

Ways to Teach Students with Learning Disabilities

Homeschooling, tutoring and special schools can help children with a learning disability to learn at their own pace. Teachers can use a variety of strategies to assist students with learning disabilities.

Teaching Kids with Dyslexia or Reading Disabilities

  1. Do not ask the kids to read aloud.
  2. Give them quiet space to read.
  3. Use audiobooks or textbooks with large prints.
  4. When reading, encourage children to engage both their visual and auditory senses.
  5. Provide chapter outlines or study aids to students that emphasize important points in their reading.
  6. Ask students to reread the old stories to develop fluency.
  7. Encourage students to read the topics of their interests.
  8. Concentrate on exercises that incorporate the sound of words rather than letters or spellings.
  9. Demonstrate and teach your students to break down the short phrases into distinct words.
  10. Ask the kids to clap out syllables and try to generate rhymes.

Teaching kids with Dysgraphia or Writing Disabilities

  1. Provide printouts to the kids with Dysgraphia so there’s less to copy from the board.
  2. Be patient! Allow kids extra time to copy from the board or take notes.
  3. Allow your students to use laptops or computers for writing assignments.
  4. To aid in the formation of letters in the correct space, provide paper with different-coloured or raised lines.
  5. Teach students to proofread their assignments or allow them to use proofreaders to look for errors.
  6. If required, use speech-to-text or scribe so that students can dictate their answers.
  7. Give the student a partially finished outline to fill in the information beneath the key categories.
  8. Permit the use of tape recorders in the classroom.
  9. Provide them with a quiet area to write their tests.

Teaching Students with Dyscalculia or Calculation Disabilities

  1. Teach your students to draw diagrams and sketches to solve word problems.
  2. Show your students how to apply math in real life.
  3. Create tailored worksheets including word problems and number problems.
  4. Provide your students with graphical charts of formulas or multiplication tables.
  5. Allow the students to use calculators if required.
  6. You can use puzzles, coins and block to teach the math concepts.
  7. Use graph papers to align numbers and problems.
  8. Teach students how to comprehend the problem, devise a strategy to address it, follow out the plan, and check their work to ensure that the solution solves the problem.

To increase students’ grasp of assignments and the quality of their work, you can employ the following methods:

  1. Humiliating the kids with learning disabilities is a big no. Never display their work to their peers as an example of poor work. Rather, provide them with opportunities and praise them for every achievement.
  2. Explain the lessons and include step-to-step instructions, so that these children can understand the lessons.  
  3. Break down the learning tasks into smaller assignments.
  4. You can also use graphic organizers to present the information in a more understandable manner.
  5. Set specific expectations and communicate them clearly.
  6. Probe regularly to check progress and provide quality feedback.

Summing Up

Learning disabilities are surprisingly common around the world. In fact, difficulties with reading, writing or comprehending during the school years are the signs and symptoms of learning disorder.

However, the disorder doesn’t make the students less intelligent or lazy. They just learn differently.  In fact, students with learning disabilities possess average or above-average intelligence. However, there’s a gap between their potential learning and actual achievement. That is why learning disabilities are also referred to as “Hidden Disabilities”.

It is extremely crucial for the teachers to implement the strategies that are tailored according to the needs of these children. Moreover, kids with learning disabilities learn slow pace. So, you need to be patient and consistently work with them.