The challenge lies in recognising that real progress is only achieved under peaceful conditions. When we can see that we are better off cooperating and communicating than fighting and tearing down; situations can become win-win. By learning and practicing crucial interpersonal skills we can help children manage their new reality and succeed.
Children today are returning to school unnerved, often in new groups they don’t know well, with uncertainty and confusion at the heart of their learning experience. What they need is reassurance and support for learning in new ways, with new people, under strange circumstances. They need to build on their social, emotional and thinking skills in order to be able to effectively meet the challenges they face.
One of the ways in which they can do this is by learning the difference between debate and dialogue, how questions create empathy with others, how important it is to control emotions, and how creativity and communication can drive positive change. At Learn2Think we have built a relevant and accessible programme which helps children do this, under the patronage of UNESCO UK.
For Tolerance Day November 16, 2020, we’ve developed a workshop called Red v Blues that has pupils role-play a ‘battle’ scenario and then listen, question, communicate, and problem-solve their way out of it. This builds on years of work on religious tolerance, understanding history and challenging false information.
Another avenue enabling pupils to explore their thinking is the returning Learn2Think Young Journalist Prize. This provides a wonderful opportunity for Key-stage 2 pupils ages 8-11 to engage in non-fiction writing, practice asking questions, learn the importance of hearing both sides of an argument, and communicate about issues that are important to them.
To ensure that our 2020 competition fits in seamlessly with the school curriculum we'll be launching the competition in September and running it through National Non-fiction November. Entries can be submitted up until 30th November 2020, with the winners announced the week beginning the 18th January 2021.
Once again the focus is on interviewing, with this year’s theme being the resolution of conflict. We want children to interview two people with opposing views on the same subject, or one person with whom they themselves disagree. The aim is to promote better understanding of both the causes and resolution of conflict through listening, building empathy, controlling emotions and problem solving. Once again, the 2020 competition offers entrants the option of doing either a podcast or a written piece.
Combining new workshops, lesson plans and the Learn2Think Young Journalism competition, we offer a range of ways to bring these issues into the curriculum. This not only highlights their importance but supports pupils in learning the necessary skills to underpin their education and development. With the challenges of 2020 continuing to affect us all, it’s increasingly important that we learn these skills across every element of society. By starting with our children we can be most effective in the longer term.
This article first appeared in the September issue of Education Today.