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Bloom Education

SHANGHAI, CHINA – Bloom Education brings together children and teenagers from diverse cultural groups with an aim to provide a holistic educational experience, especially in subjects not typically taught at school. They strive to connect people from different backgrounds and to inspire a love of learning in all of their students.

Strategy Advisor and Youth Mentor, Osmond Wang, approached The Art of Learning Project while preparing for a two-week summer camp program based in Xicang, Sichuan Province, which would focus on exploring TAOL principles while providing students with opportunities to truly enjoy the learning process. An important component of the program was to support the students in developing empathy and discovering the connections between the three participating cultural groups – the Han ethnic majority, non-Han minority, and Americans or Canadians with Chinese heritage.

The entire student population participated in daily martial arts practice as well as a variety of academic, arts and crafts, and other activities, including small group city-building games and debates themed around selected topics. The facilitators led the groups in 1-hour reflection sessions at the end of each day, during which the students contemplated and discussed their learning. Through these reflections, students were able to Value Process Before Results by noting progress and growth, and practice Investment in Loss as they made plans for how to approach a situation or problem differently in the future. Finally, at the end of the 2-week session, the student who demonstrated the most commitment to the process of learning was voted “most dedicated learner” by the other participants in the camp.

“In the beginning (and for many days…), the mandatory daily 7am martial arts practice was not an activity that the students enjoyed, due to the early morning time slot it was scheduled for” shared Wang. “But by the end of the camp, it was the most popular activity and the martial arts teacher was voted best teacher among all the instructors, which was a testament to the quality of his teaching and also an indication of the students beginning to grasp (emotionally and behaviorally) the principles of learning. Martial arts offered a medium through which students could clearly see their own progress – of being able to do something they weren’t able to before.

“I think it shows that learning activities can be structured in ways that allow students to enjoy learning even when the initial learning experience requires elements of discomfort. I love that – when discomfort is enjoyed, even desired, in service of learning.”

Tanenbaum CHAT

MAPLE, ONTARIO, CANADA – Jamie Cohen is a 9th grade English teacher and Director of Student Extra-Curricular Activities at Tanenbaum CHAT (Community Hebrew Academy of Toronto).  This year he ran his second SOLE (Self Organized Learning Environment) Student Leadership Seminar for 115 students ranging from 13-17 years of age, all of whom are in some way involved in creating, organizing, and running extra-curricular events and activities.  He is interested in “spurring teenagers on through adversity to creative, new angles in the planning process of events, how to be clearheaded, present and cool under fire in the week leading up to an event and the event itself” and, overall, to learn how to become exceptional leaders. He used W2M (Willing to Make Mistakes) Inspiration Boards to explore Investment in Loss and Using Adversity with this highly competitive group of students, with an aim to help them shift their perspectives “when looking at mistakes, obstacles, and resistance points during the adventure of creating extra-curricular school projects.”  They also used the learning principles to create a plan for their commitments and activities throughout the year, learn to prioritize goals based on those commitments, and become more cognizant of where they focus their energies.  Self-assessment will be included in the process and there will be a follow up meeting to help keep the students focused on their commitments.  Mr. Cohen has shared the complete assignment for the seminar, as well as a few of the students’ written and visual responses on our Resources for Educators page.

In addition to his work with the SOLE seminar, Mr. Cohen developed an Art of Learning program in his 9th grade English class as part of a 6-week novel study unit.  The students used The Art of Learning in conjunction with their study of the novel, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time.  As a culmination to this unit, the students applied their knowledge of one of the main themes: empathy comes through investigating, seeing, hearing and feeling the world from different perspectives through the creation of a Curious Empathy Board that integrates the “play between knowledge, intuition, and creativity.”  The Empathy Boards included both visual and verbal components and encouraged students to focus on ideas from The Art of Learning such as Numbers to Leave Numbers and Breaking Down Walls. Mr. Cohen has shared the complete assignment for the empathy board as well as some of the students visual and written responses on our Resources for Educators page.