The generation growing up today have to tackle the complex challenges of humanity. With the development of artificial intelligence (Ai), the world will go though foundational changes in the years to come.
Education needs to counter this by shifting its focus and methods, from today's goal of learning content knowledge and skills, to instead develop qualities such as open-mindedness, compassion and kindness. Human consciousness needs to infiltrate the design and use of Ai to hold humanity's progress with responsibility.
Education should equip this generation with the ability to problem-solve through new ways of opening their minds and hearts. Competitive one-size-fits all education is outdated, knowledge is instead co-created, collaborative, and constructed when different minds come together.
Take a moment to look around you to see how different we are as humans. Everyone is created to be unique, both on the outside as well as on the inside, through our genetic keys in combination with the social and cultural influences that form us.
When looking at how to develop problem-solving skills for the 21-st century, we recognize that the diversity of different minds is needed to be able to address reality creatively from different perspectives. Education should prepare young people to become open-minded, inclusive, and accepting of differences.
Think about the children you work with, each one is special and full of potential. Every child comes into this world with different strengths, interests and passions. If each student is consulted in their own growth, supported to follow their innate learning styles and cognitive development, education becomes the practice of equity.
We have developed an educational tool for Social and Emotional Learning (SEL) that promotes inclusion and the experience of unity in diversity through colourful and creative Kaleidoscope Puzzles. Like the turn of a kaleidoscope, every pattern created is different. The special puzzle pieces show that there is not only one solution, but infinite ways, and all answers can be correct.
If two students with the same puzzle pieces make a pattern each, their patterns will probably be different, but both solutions are possible. If they instead build a pattern together, they will create a third solution that is just as perfect, but different. Kaleidoscope puzzles challenge our minds to become conscious and open to change, embrace otherness, and find harmony in the diversity.
Let’s imagine that “puzzle pieces” are equal to a pieces of information, like what is taught through the textbooks. These can be stacked and stored in the minds of your students, but won’t be very useful to them. What if, instead of just stacking the puzzle pieces, you can help your students to develop the ability to mentally create patterns by observing similarities, differences, and connections? They will need to use their curiosity, imagination, and a process of trial and error to arrange the parts in this way.
Kaleidoscope puzzles allow students to construct their own knowledge and understanding. The physical puzzle is just there to reflect and stimulate a process happening inside the student's mind, to train its faculties to relate to information and experiences. Creating new neurological connections needed for emotional and social intelligence, students become open to different perspectives and solutions with the help of their imagination, developing their ability of critical thinking and problem solving.
Learning happens when new knowledge and understanding finds its place next to the already known, and we mentally re-organize and restructure to form a new pattern. This process cannot be taught, as it happens naturally inside the student's mind, and is what needs to be stimulated for true learning to happen. Through various ways of approaching the concept of puzzles, we target different mental functions.
Is it not our main work as educators to build a generation with the ability to change their world, so that children of the future, our grandchildren, and their children, can grow up into a new world of peace and sustainability? Changing mindsets starts from one individual to the next, together changing the norms of who and what mainstream education should serve.
Leading education for the 21st century starts with you, the teacher. No top down policies and political agendas can make this change. But you can transform education in your classroom, step by step introducing new educational methods and practices to your students. Discover more