Community Development this Inspire Week

Community Development this Inspire Week

High School

Hello Readers,

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Kids club pairs mentors with younger students

Welcome back to another Study Academy Report! I hope you all are enjoying this lovely spring weather we have been having recently! Some of our High School students have remarked that it is still a bit chilly compared to where they were just a week ago. Can you guess who? Well, for those of you who have read my previous post you know that some of our High School students made a trip to Nicaragua.

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Trenching foundations of the soon-to-be school in El Manzano # Uno

On March 29th a select number of students and teachers packed their bags, boarded American Airlines and travelled to the beautiful land of Nicaragua in Central America. This was an absolutely exciting experience for all of them! Nicaragua has an abundantly rich culture, being known simultaneously as The Land of Lakes and Volcanoes as well as The Land of Poets (home to many renown Nicaraguan writers such as Ruben Dario and Ernesto Cardenal).

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Horseback riding on the beach

For one whole week, our students participated in a community development project associated with the Canadian Not-For-Profit organization known as Waves of Hope. The Waves of Hope organization has worked tirelessly towards improving educational opportunities, investing in local infrastructure, and helping to create a thriving community within Nicaragua. Our students contributed to this mission by helping to build a school in El Manzano # Uno. They tossed aside their wireless devices and dug right into their work! Ha, did you see the joke there?  Well anyway, our students were mixing cement, digging trenches, and painting walls among other building tasks, all to assist in improving the local Nicaraguan community.

When students were not lending a hand, they were residing and taking part in the fun activities at the El Coco Loco Resort on the Northern end of Nicaragua.  When speaking to one of the returning High School teachers, he remarked that they had the opportunity to take in the local cuisine (fresh fish, pineapple, mango, and peanut butter) all fresh and from the very neighbourhood in which they were staying! They were also able to enjoy the private beach, swimming, surfing, and horseback riding!  You can check out all the fun the students were having by checking out our Nicaragua  Trip 2014 Photo gallery (http://thestudyacademy.ca/nicaragua-trip-2014/)

Overall, this was a perfect mixture of community development, personal growth, and fun for our students. Volunteering with Waves of Hope was a wonderful chance to provide for others and put aside personal needs. I urge you, if you are interested in learning more about how you can experience a trip like The Study Academy’s or if you would like to learn about Waves of Hope’s initiatives contact Jamie or Ben.

Till next week!

Theoretical Thursday: Creativity, Innovation and Education

Theoretical Thursday: Creativity, Innovation and Education

Middle School The Study Academy Report

Hello Readers,

And welcome to Theoretical Friday! As I mentioned yesterday, I have come down with a bit of a cough and cold, so I pushed our usual Theoretical Thursday to today.

Over this week, however, while seeing the children engage in such wonderfully creative endeavors, I began to think of the importance of innovation in Education and the need for creativity in our youth.  Whether it be by the media, researchers or even educators themselves, there has been quite a bit of talk for the need to increase new modes of thinking in students. There are some schools, such as The Study Academy, that make it their mission to provide courses and teaching methods based on creativity and innovation.

imagesBut here comes the question-Why is creativity so important that makes these individuals in educational institutions, researchers, and media argue so passionately for its integration into the Educational system? One such reason, that research has provided, has to do with the process of divergent thinking in children. What is that? Well, it is the process of breaking down concepts into their various components within our minds, and being able to see things from various perspectives. Divergent thinking can provide a deeper understanding and can foster insight in children, which benefits their overall learning development.

So, to foster a child’s divergent thinking abilities, education must go beyond simply knowledge based teaching. Indeed, to simply have a child learn in a knowledge based, single answer manner does not teach students how to analyze, synthesize and evaluate ideas in the same way divergent thinking can.

However, the Educational system as a whole, does not currently reward this way of thinking about things in children. Actually the current teaching methods can detract from the development of a child’s divergent learning capacity. In one study, used as a critical argument in Robinson’s TED talk in 2006 on creativity and education, several Kindergarten children were tested for their ability to think divergently. The initia

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l results indicated that 98% had such a capacity, but when tested five years later, the results  dropped significantly. They dropped even more so five years after that. What happened, you may ask.

Well what I am trying to indicated, and what Robinson so strongly argued in his video (which can be found at http://www.ted.com/talks/ken_ robinson_says_schools_kill_creativity.html), is that a student’s capacity for divergent thinking can diminish if it is not encouraged. Do not be fooled, divergent thinking does not necessarily disappear as one ages. Not at all! Instead, results indicate that the current teaching method had “taught [divergent thinking] out of them. They’ve spent ten years at school, being taught there’s only one answer.”

While I admit it is a challenge for the Educational system to anticipate what sort of useful tools a child will need for their future, I believe a capacity for divergent thinking is a skill that is always relevant both on a personal and societal level. The ability to see many perspectives and understand another human being is important for relationships. The knowledge of how to anticipate a situation can help individual know what can be their next move. To understand the long term considerations of an action can help a society act consciously. For this reason, creativity and innovation are indeed crucial tools for learning development  in an individual as well as sustainable development within a community. Education and training need to incorporate creativity and innovation into life long learning.

That’s all for now folks, but this subject is not over just yet. I find it particularly interesting and so i will touch more on this subject matter next week on the next Theoretical Thursday. Stay tuned!

Also, if you are interested in reading more on this matter I would like to suggest the following two pieces:

McGrath, J. & Davies, D. (2012) The Future Will Not Be Multiple Choice. Published by Mind Shift. Available for download at: http://blogs.kqed.org/mindshift/2013/02/video-the-future-will-not-be-multiple-choice/

Stanford Breakfast Briefings – The Enterprise of the Future. Available for download at: https://breakfastbriefings.stanford.edu/briefings/enterprise-future