- Education & Catastrophe
- Moving To Bali For Your Child's Education Part II
Moving To Bali For Your Child's Education Part II
Education & Catastrophe 76
A classroom at Empathy School Ubud
Hey y’all! This is John.
This newsletter is about human flourishing. Ostensibly it’s about better parenting and fixing education, but ultimately what I really care about is helping young people flourish.
A year ago, following a trip to Bali to visit Green School and Open Flow Learning Centre, I wrote about moving to Bali for your child’s education. Earlier this week, I got a tour of Empathy School Ubud, another nature school in Bali. Covered in this issue:
Breaking down classroom walls (both physical and metaphorical)
Building a holistic model for the future of education
Role Playing Games in schools
Let’s dive in!
When I visited Empathy School earlier this week, I felt viscerally that this is the sort of learning environment my kids should be in. Open-air classrooms without walls, surrounded by nature, with a strong emphasis on emotional intelligence and hands-on learning.
Empathy School Ubud is a nature school that offers emotionally-intelligent, hands-on education for children ages 2-14 with interactive approach. Empathy School International was developed at Harvard, follows the latest research in holistic and evidence-based education. We believe that through exposure to nature, individualized focus, and a strong foundation in social-emotional learning our students will grow to become the compassionate leaders and change-makers of tomorrow.
As a rule, I take everything I read on a school’s website with a huge pinch of salt. It’s mostly marketing speak. Having visited Empathy School though, I can see how the curriculum and learning environment build a strong foundation in social-emotional learning. A few things stand out - project-based learning, immersion in nature, an emphasis on sustainable living practices, and a proclivity for working with plants and animals.
The school’s goats. Five Balinese deers arriving soon.
The open-air classrooms at Empathy School are both physical and metaphorical. I much prefer that kids learn in a classroom without walls and rows of desks and chairs. Kids sitting in a circle with an adult facilitating the learning sets the tone for how learning happens. Instead of didactic, it’s participatory. Instead of sage on stage, it’s guide by the side. Instead of silence, we hear excitement and laughter.
And this is where the metaphorical walls break down too. Teachers at Empathy School are not constrained by a rigid curriculum they have to follow to a T, nor do they have to prepare students for high-stakes examinations. Empathy students can learn by playing because the timetable affords teachers the time and space to let students explore and work on meaningful projects with them.
Zachary Reznichek, Middle School Director at Empathy School, is a busy man. Besides the work he does at Empathy, he is also a co-founder of Da Vinci Life Skills, an organisation whose stated aim is to build a holistic model for the future of education, one where a polymath like Leonardo Da Vinci could flourish. The Da Vinci Life-Skills Curriculum offers five transdisciplinary project pathways that incorporate core skills domains like physical (movement, practical), academic (critical thinking, reasoning), social-emotional (self-management, teamwork) and creative/intuitive (ideation, problem-solving).
Basically - Not sitting still at desks listening to theory 85% of the day.
Building a holistic model for the future of education is an ambitious goal. It is also what the world needs. For too long, education has been stuck in the industrial age. Curricula focused on standardised tests are not keeping up with how rapidly technology is fundamentally changing the nature of work. Young people are leaving formal education without the skills and mindsets to make their way in the world.
“If we teach today’s students as we taught yesterday’s, we rob them of tomorrow.”
As if running a school and a holistic education org doesn’t keep him busy enough, Zach is also the author of The Teacher-Gamer Handbook.
Zach’s work with role-playing games is very similar to how Doyobi runs facilitated online quests where kids take on roles, collaborate and solve problems together. What Doyobi offers is essentially a digital form of RPGs so that Doyobi quests can be easily accessed by educators and learners anywhere in the world. Both TeacherGamer and Doyobi start with role playing as a way to get kids to open up, be immersed in a game-like learning environment, and end with developing 21st century skills and social-emotional competencies as the ultimate goal.
Holding an autographed copy of Teacher Gamer Handbook with Chung Man (Think Learning Studio) and Zach
Saturday Kids is running end-of-year coding and robotics camps this November and December.
There are many coding schools, but there’s only one focused on holistic learning, creative expression, life skills and social-emotional competencies.
Join us on a journey of creativity, problem-solving and fun!