IB graduate Safa Shahkhalili shares how educators and parents can incorporate the learner profile and real-world experiences into remote learning. This is her second story in our graduate voices series.
“Often, the most important lessons are those we learn outside the classroom.”
As the COVID-19 (Coronavirus) pandemic continues to escalate around the world, workplaces and schools are suspending in-person activities. This has forced many teachers and parents to quickly adapt to online teaching or homeschooling. While adults scramble to learn how to use Zoom or find online teaching content, we should remember that this moment is an opportunity to teach young people more than just the school curriculum.
This global health crisis is an opportunity to speak to students and listen to their thoughts on relevant societal concepts and ideas such as social distancing, adaptive behavior, health care, government policy-making processes and much more. Now, more than ever, these are concepts that we can all relate to, no matter our age and nationality.
“The potential for teaching moments and opportunities is vast and goes much deeper than merely following the school curriculum.”
Students might understand that social distancing literally means avoiding close contact with people and public spaces to avoid spreading the virus or catching it. However, they would benefit from learning about why it is important and discussing the broader implications. Social distancing is a moral practice in that it is an issue of social solidarity. It is an action that societies around the world are taking to protect all people and particularly, the most vulnerable people in society (the elderly, the immunocompromised and those with preexisting medial conditions) in an attempt to lower infection rates and prevent hospitals from being overwhelmed. The more people that adhere to social distancing, the more effective it can be in lowering infection rates. While this is a global reality, each country has its own particular approach and context that students can learn about and reflect on.
The IB learner profile can be used in these discussions. The aim of the IB programme is to develop, “internationally minded people who recognize their common humanity and shared guardianship of the planet and help to create a better and more peaceful world.” Teachers or parents can choose one of the ten attributes of the IB learner profile each day and reflect on how it relates to the global COVID-19 pandemic response with their students or kids. For example, how is the attribute of caring being demonstrated by doctors and nurses? By other front-line workers? By governments? By neighbors? What are people sacrificing to better care for themselves and their communities?
“Let us continue to have a growth mindset, seek opportunities to learn in multiple ways and share knowledge.”
In a bid to maintain normalcy, many teachers and parents might be focusing on maintaining a familiar daily schedule, to protect their students and children from the changes and stress of the world outside their homes. However, they can also see this as an opportunity to schedule in time to teach young people life skills, such as learning how to cook, do laundry, plant a garden, balance a checkbook, do something kind for a neighbor (while maintain social distancing) and much more. The potential for teaching moments and opportunities is vast and goes much deeper than merely following the school curriculum.
The COVID-19 pandemic is also teaching us many lessons. One lesson is that globally, we are all much more interconnected than we might realize. No matter where we live, we share a common humanity, benefit from our mutual well-being, and depend on one another to thrive. We all have a responsibility to behave in ways that do no harm to others. As we all continue to adapt in accordance to this situation, let us continue to have a growth mindset, seek opportunities to learn in multiple ways and share knowledge. After all, not all learning is done in a classroom. Often, the most important lessons are those we learn outside the classroom.
Safa Shahkhalili lived and studied in five countries before graduating from Jakarta International School in Indonesia. She has worked on various international development research projects and is the founder and host of the “Rethinking Development Podcast.” You can connect with her on LinkedIn here.
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