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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.”

Belize National Youth Chess Foundation

BELIZE. The BNYCF is a not-for-profit organization dedicated to promoting chess among the youth of Belize. There are approximately 800 kids in the program coming from 6 districts. We are working with Ella Anderson, their program director, to make a significant difference in their lives by donating copies of The Art of Learning to the children and their volunteer coaches who received workshop training in positive teaching and coaching techniques and in using chess as an educational and motivational tool.

Says Ella: “We wanted to makes sure that our kids…understand that the word ‘complete’ or ‘ultimate’ when applied to a chess player is a very broad concept and involves a lot of different qualities and that,we, their coaches, are not expecting just victories from them. Rather, we are expecting them to be human, make mistakes, learn from mistakes,…love the game and be passionate about it and want to win but also enjoy the process of playing regardless of the outcomes of individual games. It is important to create the environment where we, as coaches, continue to provide positive reinforcement for the hard work and efforts, not just for the results. This needs to be constantly reinforced in coaches as well as in kids. In order to address the above-mentioned issues, it is important not to just “preach” to the kids about right and wrong but to create an environment where they are given a chance to experience the concepts in real life. That is what our program is about, and since we started the National Belize Youth Chess Foundation, we have had more than 400 participants in our workshops for coaches and staged 24 tournaments in all districts of Belize with more than 1200 participants, and 40 camps with over 950 participants. We are continuing to apply The Art of Learning concepts to all our events.”