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.”
KAUAI, HI – C.E.O and Martial Arts Director Bear Bubnis contacted The Art of Learning Project with an interest in developing a Thematic Program that would weave The Art of Learning principles into all aspects of this free surfing, martial arts, visual arts, and gardening focused afterschool center. Currently serving 50 local children between the ages of 6 and 14, Bubnis and his staff of unpaid volunteer instructors are dedicated to providing learning experiences that will have a positive and lasting impact on their students’ lives. “We hope to gain a better understanding of how to connect with our students and how to help them fall in love with the learning process,” Bubnis explained.
Each of the afterschool teachers spent several months reading The Art of Learning, listening to Josh’s interviews with Tim Ferriss, and exploring their personal relationships to the learning concepts before bringing them to their students. At the same time, they carefully observed their students and began to discuss the strengths and struggles they saw in their approaches to learning. After identifying common themes such as creativity, humor, collaboration, lack of focus, low self-confidence, and limited perseverance, the teaching team decided to focus their program on the Resilience principles.
Within the first few months of their program, each instructor has seen noticeable growth in both their students’ approach to learning and their own teaching practice. “We have been using the Resilience principles and seen a drastic increase in the children’s interest in certain breathing and mindfulness techniques,” shared Bubnis. “We have also seen a collective appreciation for a silence that was previously taken with discomfort and unease.”
Art Director Paige Guglielmana explained, “With the JW Foundation, we have been able to move forward with inspiring creativity and self-reliance in our program by giving children the space and tools to do so. We encourage trial and error with their own creations in an inspiring group setting with a product of confidence, empowerment, and also increased mindfulness in their own practices and projects while bonding with each other as a collective group.”
“I have learned so much from the JW Foundation,” shared Surf Director Masaijah Lani. “Working with them has completely restructured the way I coach and help children to reach set goals. The JW Foundation helped to redefine the way I approach mindsets and the feedback that is given while in practice.”
As participants in our semester long Thematic Program project, the staff receive regular support from the JWF team over the course of their program. This support includes
• Monthly emails that lay out a plan for each phase of the program such as staff exploration of concepts, building personal daily habits, analyzing student needs, planning curricular tie-ins, working with students, and reflections on the program
• Scaffolded support of each participating staff member’s daily journaling on slack to analyze daily practice, note struggles, and plan for improvements
If your school would like to participate in one of our Thematic Programs, please fill out this brief application.
INDIANAPOLIS, IN – Luke Taylor is initiating a commitment to transforming lives and community in Indianapolis by providing top-notch martial arts instruction and facilities to adolescents, teens, and adults. The program aims to create mentoring and life-enriching experiences for adolescents and teens by connecting them with educational, athletic and/or employment opportunities that would not otherwise be available to them. The program aims to establish another non-confrontational connection point between IMPD and the city’s youth, and also provide community based therapeutic physical training to young combat veterans suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. Luke provides weekly broad discussion groups using the resources from The Art of Learning website, he also facilitates discussions of Principles with specific focus on pre and post-competition evaluations of training and competition performances. The Art of Learning has been applied with kids competing in Indiana State Golden Gloves Championships and also the Hoosier Open Brazilian Jiu-jitsu tournament.
ITHACA, NE-The mission of The Praire Wind Dojo is to strengthen the body, develop the mind, and free the spirit through the study of the martial arts. “Our intention,” says Chief Instructor Michael Rowe “is to show that we are capable of great improvements in the physical, mental, and spiritual realms sometimes by a simple shift in perspective, and that…gains have always been within our grasp.” Through sharing The Art of Learning, Michael says he hopes to “increase the ability of students to improve their overall performance in school, at work, at play, and increase my fellow instructors understanding of learning and performance.”
All Black Belt Instructors are reading and studying the book in a weekly book study program and participants are applying the principles to student sessions. Additionally, all students applying to complete a Master’s Challenge are reading and discussing the book with their mentor instructor. Each challenge culminates in a Master’s Challenge Weekend camp in which additional discussions pertaining to The Art of Learning concepts are taking place.
HAZELHURST, MS – Clay Cheroni, the owner and head instructor of this martial arts school, is working with students (pre-teens to adults) to help achieve a balance between mind, body and spirt and “provide knowledge and skills needed to lead a fulfilling and rewarding life.”