Learning Differently!

Jul 03, 2019
5 Values That All Children Must Be Taught, And Places Across The Word That Are Doing It

From alphabet to algebra, language, to logical thinking, schools lay the foundation for every child to become a successful adult in the future. While there is no doubt that everything a child learns in school, eventually helps him/her grow in life, there are some elements equally, if not far more, important that don’t always make it to curriculum, despite their ability to shape a child’s thoughts, actions, and behavior. Children are after all, impressionable minds that are work in progress, and the right lessons learned, especially at schools and home, can go a long way in how they are shaped as humans.

Here’ s a look at some of these values that children don’t often get to learn in conventional schools, but go a long way in shaping them as individuals. We have also thrown the spotlight on some schools and schooling systems across the world, that school differently, inculcating these elements in everyday learning.

1. Cleanliness Has The Power To Change A Nation

Too often, we complain about the trash by the road, dustbins that aren’t being used enough, dirty roads, and unkempt premises. We go on to blame the mentality of the people in the country, lack of rules and penalties, and continue with our everyday life, sometimes stealthily or unknowingly, littering ourselves. Everybody does it, we justify, but aren’t we all a being amongst “everybody”? Children grow up seeing the same attitude towards cleanliness, and although they do keep classroom premises neat out of the fear of being reprimanded, the attitude is not always carried outside the classroom walls. Inculcating the value of cleanliness in children, doesn’t just help raise them into responsible citizens, but also into someone who respects other’s rights over shared spaces. In the words of Benjamin Disraeli, “Cleanliness and order are not matters of instinct, they are matters of education”. Teaching the value of cleanliness to children, not just through words but practice as well, holds the potential of changing the perception and future of a country.

Who’s Doing It?

Schools in Japan, require children to clean and maintain, not just their classrooms, but washrooms too. Students right from the first grade, are expected to take part in this practice, that schools across the country follow. Most schools do not even have janitors, going on to show the commitment students show towards this practice that could have been taken for granted easily. Japanese culture in general, values cleanliness as a spiritual practice, and this practice of getting children involved, conditions generations to take ownership of cleanliness, and not look at it as detestable chore. It is no wonder then, that Japan is one of the cleanest countries of the world.

2. Household Chores Are Survival Skills, Not Gender Roles

Times have changed, and so has the age old norm of women taking care of the house, while men go out to earn. However, the idea that girl children must be well versed with household chores, while boys don’t have to, still persists in several households, planting the seeds of inequality at a young age. When schools teach gender equality, it is important to cover factors that contribute to inequality, from glaring big differences, to minor ones such as the idea that cooking and chores are a woman’s job. At the end of the day, chores are survival skills, that not just women, but men and even children, must be familiar with. Teaching children the importance of both genders being involved in household chores, can go a long way, in not just helping them with survival skills, but also getting over the unreasonable assumption, that no matter how modernized the world gets, some gender roles remain the same. Learning chores will also help students be independent, learn to think for their own selves, and take action when needed, instead of tattooing the idea “In case of emergency, call Mom” for every small inconvenience.

Who’s Doing It?

Colegia Montecastelo in Vigo, Spain, introduced Home Economics as part of their curriculum. The program was aimed at teaching students, especially boys, household chores such as cooking, ironing, cleaning, washing clothes etc. Teachers and parents got together to volunteer, in order to teach children these basic skills. The initiative aimed at teaching survival skills to children, while also breaking stereotypes.

3. Protect The Environment, To Protect Mankind

It is no surprise that mankind tends to take the environment for granted, despite the severe effects it has. From excessive use of plastic to using equipment that harm the environment, everyday, we damage the environment in more ways than we care to know. While children may not be able to understand the serious implications their little actions may have, educating them about the same, while also inculcating a protective attitude towards the environment, may help with the damage control and recovery of the planet we take for granted.

Who’s Doing It?

Philippines recently announced the introduction of a new law “The Graduation Legacy for the Environment Act” that requires all high school and graduation students to plant at least ten trees, to attain graduation. The country hopes to educate the young about the environment, help deal with climate change, and build a greener planet for generations to come, with this noble initiative. Green School in Bali, Indonesia, teaches sustainability through practical learning, out in the open. It offers a special Green Studies curriculum, that inculcates respect for environment, and awareness for the planet.

4. There’s Something To Learn From Every Country, It’s Culture, And People

Children of today, are global citizens of tomorrow. With borders fading and countries getting closer, both trade-wise and people wise, it’s important to teach children, that there’s something to learn from each country, it’s culture, and people. Be it travelling, collaborating with cross border students, or participating in projects that highlight other countries, there are several ways for children to look beyond the walls of their classrooms, and boundaries of their countries. This will also help sensitize students, and be more acceptable of people, whose cultures and practices are different from theirs. This approach will help children keep an open mind towards people and learning, as they learn to take lessons, not just from textbooks, but from anywhere there’s an opportunity to.

Who’s Doing It?

THINK Global School, a travelling high school, travels to four countries a year, helping students learn real time, about different countries, their cultures, and values. As their website mentions, from huts to high rise dormitories, throughout the course of their high school, children get to immerse themselves into colors, flavors, languages, and local cultures. The school’s project based learning, intends to put children in charge of their own education, overcoming challenges and notions, while they learn to learn from the world, what they see in textbooks.

5. Learning Can Be A Creative, Interesting Process

The very thought of school and examinations can upset a child, taking away the essence of learning. Children often perceive learning as a task, following a fixed, chartered path. This rigid idea about learning, teaches children that learning is an unpleasant thing to do, and is something that can only be done from textbooks. While there is no doubt that textbooks have a lot at offer, children must also be taught, that learning is a creative journey that can be enjoyed, and that there is a plethora of opportunities inside and outside the classroom, that can make learning a joyous process.

Who’s Doing It?

Bright works School in California, attempts to merge the learning that happens at school and home, advertising the idea, that learning can happen everywhere. Located in a 9000 square foot warehouse, with facilities ranging from art studio to fabrication lab, this K-12 learning community creates learning experiences for students, based on depth of inquiry, collaboration, trust and creativity. The school uses real tools, real materials, and real problems, to encourage students love of learning, while honing their curiosity. Mixed age group students are placed in groups, and led by a teacher. The school follows the learning arc of “Exploration, Expression, and Exposition” to meet its objective.

It’s time children are taught, more than the obvious. As young minds learn important values, they pave the way for a bright community, nation, and planet. EdSense salutes all the teachers, parents, schools, and nations that are already doing it, and helping children learn differently!



Jiji Tharayil

Writer. Reader. Dreamer.