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Electric Education Part 2

Electricity is a blessing to education, as we explored earlier in the week.  Now let’s look at innovative ways that electricity is coming to remote places and building bridges to the future.

Innovative Supplies of Electricity

Bundles of Energy

Have you ever watched children play? They run, they jump, they seem to just never stop.  More than once each of us has joked about harnessing their energy to power a small city.  What if I told you the joke is now a reality.

Jump to It

When on a trip to visit family in Nigeria, Jessica O Matthews, founder of Uncharted Play(now Uncharted Power), struggled with the fumes from a diesel generator used to power the lights for her aunt’s wedding celebration.  Determined to find a way to solve the problem of energy sources in developing nations, Matthews got her chance in college and not only built a high scoring project with a few of her classmates for her engineering class, but founded a company.

Their first product SOCCKET is a soccer ball that is actually a generator.  It provided 2 hours of power for a lamp used by students to study in areas without electricity. Then there is PULSE a jump rope that can charge a cell phone to half power after just 15 minutes of use. Play become power.

Uncharted Power’s mission is to reach areas most in need of electricity with clean, easy to use generator options.

Shine Some Light on the Situation

Groups like Solar City are bringing brightness to developing areas of the world, including Mali Malawi, Nicaragua, and Haiti, through donating solar panels.  The solar panels are attached to school roofs or mounted on the ground. They power simple LED lights and include a battery back-up feature.

These panels allow for better access to education for children and parents, spreading not only light but hope.  A school in Nigeria that received the panels now functions as a community center at night.

Not only are the panels usable in areas that would never see on the grid electric, they are cost effective and clean–creating no harmful fumes.

Gravity Works

The GravityLight  uses a simple pulley system and sand bag to provide off the grid power anywhere.  Available for use as emergency lighting in the USA, Deciwatt Ltd funds donations of the GravityLight to those who need it most around the world.

The system provides clean energy that is much safer than kersene lamps, traditionally used in developing nations, and costs only $5! Aside from the dangerous fumes that cause health problems and make homes prone to disaster by fire; kerosene also consumes a large percentage of a developing world family’s budget–as much as 30%.

By using a clean, renewable, and safe source of light, children have more time to study and parents have more resources to provide for their family. Both help to break the cycle of poverty.

What’s Next?

With the advancements in solar and kinetic power generation, the hope of spreading light across the globe is closer than ever.  After all, who doesn’t want a magic machine to wash their clothes?

 

Electricity is only the beginning. By providing access to lighting, schools become open to adding technology. Currently, mobile phone usage is growing in developing nations more than anywhere else on the planet.

Mobile phones build bridges through providing communication to the most remote parts of the globe.  Phones are also used to increase literacy by providing incentive to learn to write and spell through texting and download information from the Internet.

No longer are remote school relegated to out of date textbooks.  Simple phones can open an entirely new world of information and learning.

It is important to not just jump on the bandwagon of technology donation, though, without the proper infrastructure and education, this technology is rendered useless. Program which can build, teach, and provide technology programs to underserved schools can be the key to bridging the gap in education worldwide.

As one school rises, so does an entire town, area, region, country, and generation.  Little by little, light by light, we can see a future where every child get to learn and poverty is extinguished.

How would you help a school in need?

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Electric Education

As the world heads into the “season of lights” with many faith and cultures celebrating special holidays and festivals, we are awash in the prospect of light amid the darkening days of winter.   Light has always signified hope. Yet, 1.3 billion people in the world do not have access to electricity.

Spread Hope, Peace–and Light!

The greatest provider of hope is education. While education does not require a building, nor a collection of high tech gadgets, access to basic electricity increases access to education and provides greater tools for teachers.

By creating opportunities and pathways to electrify schools in the most desperate areas of the globe, we as One Planet, One People can affect the change we long to see in the world. Greater numbers of educated world citizens means less conflict, greater chances for peace, reduced poverty, increased health, and a more stable economic outlook.  In a word, hope!

What Can Electricity Do?

On the most basic level, electricity can ensure open school doors more days of the year. By providing artificial light, students can continue to study even when it is stormy and dark outside.  Ventilation also helps to keep school running despite the weather or extremes of a climate.

Electricity opens doors for teachers and makes their job easier.  Simple tasks such as photocopying test pages or homework sheets can be completed inexpensively right on site, saving teachers the time and expense of traveling to commercial copying services in areas with sparse electric access.

Step Into the Future

A basic education for all is a fundamental right and should be a top goal for the global community, but what about going beyond the basics?  The digital age is a ever changing landscape of innovation and opportunity. The longer we leave schools of the developing world in the dark, the greater the gap in prospects for first world vs developing nation students becomes.

The lack of access to information, collaboration, and technology that is fueling the global economy is a handicap that plagues over a million people in the world?

How will we build bridges and knock down barriers if we cannot effectively collaborate?  The greatest minds of our time may be living in areas unable to join in global community of innovation. What opportunities will be missed by students cut off from information and technological advancements?

Open the World

Providing electricity to education centers throughout the world not only opens a new world to underserved students and teachers, but opens the door for those already “wired” into the information web to reach out and make new friends. The interrelations are the stepping stones to greater diplomacy and understanding for future generations.  An open world breaks down the walls that separate us and helps to close the gaps wrought but poverty, prejudice, and ignorance.

Later this week, we will continue this “electrifying” discussion and explore incredible and innovative ways that some organizations are bridging the great divide and building hope one light bulb at a time!

Please stop back to learn more and how you can help!

What opportunities has electricity afforded you in your education?

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The Skills Gap and Real Education

There is a debate going on that is not easily settled. Does the skills gap exist? If it does, why? How do we close it?

Opponents blame the recession for high unemployment rates and say there is no skills gap, just no jobs. On the other hand, analysts, journalists, business executives, and employment specialists say the gap is real and it is growing.  Which side is correct?

 

The Gap or Not The Gap, That’s Not The Question

Regardless of the actual gap, the answer to all of the questions is education.  Real education, not just the years spent in a school.  Education is a bridge to a brighter future for everyone.  It should not be limited to check lists and basic requirements.  Wherever you are on the learning continuum, there is always more to learn.

This is why at Global Learn Day, we emphasize and promote lifelong learning and endless, self education.  How can these principles solve the skills gap? Let’s explore three reasons.

Adult Education and Essential Skills

Basic skills like reading, writing, and computation are foundational to the educational process.  Yet, millions of prospective employees lack these cornerstone, building blocks.  In the United States alone, 36 million adults of working age are not proficient in language usage, fluent reading, and everyday math.

Without these skills, not only will the search for employment be difficult, but acquiring new skills is nearly impossible. A base of knowledge must be laid in order to build a lifetime of learning.  This is a skills gap that plagues every corner of the world.  In countries with mandatory, universal education, it should be a wake up call that our methods must change in order to reach and teach every student.

Adult education does not address the cause of this gap, but effectively treats the symptoms of it.  Investing in adult education creates a ripple effect that allows for better opportunities for the adult learner, as well as greater hope for future generations. Low income children who have at least one parent who has earned a G.E.D, are more likely to finish high school themselves.

Education begets education. Learning inspires more learning. By building up one segment of the population that is underserved and underskilled, the entire society is boosted and inspired to work harder.  So, providing adult education to close the basic skills gap will help ensure that gap continues to lessen in the future generations.

Continuing Education in Corporate Culture

Gone are the days of learning a finite skills set, earning a degree or diploma, and finding a lifelong career in one organization. The information age has ushered in a wave of advancing technology that continues to evolve and develop. What was top last year or even last month has now been replaced by a new software or operating system.

Basic education and higher education are still so vitally important, but in order for workers and employers to compete in this brave new world, continuing education must be a central tenet of how they do business.

Corporate learning retreat, incentives for continuing education classes, and encouragement for passive learning among employees are the hallmarks of what will not only close the skills gap in growing fields but also keep companies afloat in these volatile economic waters.

Continuing education is not just a buzz word, nor a race to a higher salary, for every employee it must be a way of life.

The Ben Franklin Way–Self Education

In locations where education is mandatory and universal, there is a tendency to equate education with school. However, these are two very different concepts.  Schools may be where you get educated, however an education is not exclusive to school.

Like the rest of the world, schools are struggling to keep up with the pace of the digital age.  Even the best schools are not adequate in providing all of the skills a person would need by the time he enters the workforce or looks to advance his career. This is because the skills that will be needed at that time are for platforms that do not exist today.

The push to include subjects like coding in school is part of a movement to prepare students for a future that we cannot even imagine right now. However, even these efforts will not insulate the next generation from a skills gap of their own.

Self education is the answer to the skills crisis. It has always been the answer. No matter what education you are lacking, individual study and pursuit of knowledge is what propels the motivated forward.

Like our patron, Benjamin Franklin, Global Learn Day recognizes and celebrates the on going efforts of self education.  In an age where skills are demanded but not being formally taught, adopting a habit of independent study apart for certificates, degrees, or pay incentives to be earned will provide much greater opportunity than any corporate education structure or formal education.

The skill to self educate is the the greatest skill to acquire. Those able to stay ahead of the curve, learn new technologies, and be flexible in how common procedures are done will be the ones to achieve and succeed.

How will you close your own skills gap today?

For more information on where to continue your own education, check out these posts:
Education: The Gift You Give Yourself
The Fun of Self Education
When Should Education End?
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Education: The Gift You Give Yourself

The season of gift giving is upon us. So much excitement and planning. Everyone is looking forward to time with family and friends, as well as surprise treats.  Do you have a list of gifts to get?  Are you on your list? That’s right, you!  Give yourself a gift that lasts forever–an education

No matter how much or how little education you have received to this point, there is always more to learn. Every bit of education is a personal treasure that pays dividends throughout your life.

B.B. King once said, “The beautiful thing about learning is no one can take it away from you.” Other gifts can be used up, broken, lost, or stolen, but knowledge is yours always.

Finding Education Gifts:

There are plenty of gift guides out on the Internet, even ones touting the virtues of educational toys, however this list is different because it is not just for children, it is for everyone.

Education can be expensive, as we all know, but it doesn’t have to be. With the advent of the World Wide Web, affordable and no-cost learning opportunities expand every day.

Here is a list of some online resources where you can self-educate:

  • Udemy: an online learning platform with classes in everything from design to test prep. It’s a great place to start–especially when they are having a sale!
  • Alison: Similar to Udemy, Alison also has a vast assortment of FREE courses!
  • Khan Academy: Known best for homework help in math–Khan is not just for kids! Khan covers topics from humanities and economics to physics and personal finance.
  • Coursera: Offering access to courses from top universities that can lead to a degree, Coursera is free to join and easy to use!
  • Academic Earth: Academic Earth offers free college classes from the best universities around the world. Don’t let location stop you!
  • OLT: The sponsor of Global Learn Day offers adult education, continuing education, and self help courses.
  • Youtube #Education: A collection of educational videos sorted by subject, this is easy learning whenever you want it.
  • Justin Guitar: Ever wanted to learn to play the guitar? It’s never too late to start. Begin free classes at this fun site!
  • Drawspace: Opens the world of drawing to any student with free classes and e-books, you can stretch your creative legs and learn something new!

The internet is so vast, the possibilities to learn are almost limitless. Learning something new not only adds some sugar and spice to your life but helps keep your brain healthy and your skills sharp. So while you are out in the hustle and bustle of the season, checking your list twice, remember to give yourself this year, too.

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The Privilege of Education

Education may be a human right. Many contend that it is. The right to seek knowledge, to learn and become enlightened is often a key part of a free society.

However, education is also a privilege. I do not mean a privilege given to a certain race, sex or group of people. Education is a privilege you earn through learning. You get out what you put into your process.

Recently, my son came home from school very upset. He’s brilliant and information is often very easy for him to retain and regurgitate. I have watched for years as he took his education for granted in little ways. Refusing to study because he already knew the material, cutting corners, fighting my attempts to help him find a better way. This day, asI picked him up from morning school I noticed he was close to tears. ‘I got a 75 on the test. Don’t say anything because I studied.’

Yes, he had begrudgingly studied for a few minutes a day when he was pushed.

He had the opportunity to learn, but he did not earn the privilege of education. In his fights, he declined it. Now, he was reaping bitter fruit and he did not like it. I attempted to comfort him by sharing that in the future, he could try a different study method. I doubt it helped much, seeing as he was indignant that his 5 minutes of forced study a day did not provide him with the A he is accustomed to.

Later that same day, my daughter came to me upset. She was struggling with Math concepts and hoped I would help her understand more clearly. I sat down and worked with her, guiding her through her homework. She was earning her education.

How do we earn our education?

As I reflect on these two situations, I ask myself what I am doing to earn my education. Opportunities to learn surround me, am I taking them? Are you?

Today, I am focusing on taking in the information around me. I’ve taken to reading articles twice to be sure I absorb the knowledge available. I then save them for at least a week as I put the knowledge into practice.

After all… Knowledge is only powerful if you put it to use.

 

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Exercise: It Does a Body and Brain Good!

What gets your heart pumping?  A sprint in the early morning dew? The latest thriller from your favorite author? Tackling an impossible puzzle?  Turns out getting your heart pumping can also build your brain!

So move over couch potato book worm, if you really want to build your intellect, start building you muscles!

Exercising Your Brain

Like your muscles, your brain needs to be stretched to stay in top form and to grow.  Reading, learning something new, practicing a skill, and playing intellectual games all help to stimulate your brain and make new connections.

Neuron pathways and synapse connections are how your brain builds and stays elastic. Keeping it healthy and strong.

The Workout Brain Connection

Your brain does not just need intellectual stimulation, it also thrives on physical activity. Our brains are ever growing and changing. Exercise induces the most critical part of this process, neurogenesis or the creation of neuron stem cells.

Guess what? Neurons do grow back — by the thousands — through a process called neurogenesis. They divide and propagate like cells in the rest of the body. Neurons are born as blank-slate stem cells, and they go through a developmental process in which they need to find something to do in order to survive. Most of them don’t. It takes about 28 days for a fledgling cell to plug into a network. If we don’t use the newborn neurons, we lose them. Exercise spawns neurons, and the environmental enrichment helps those cells survive. (source)

In addition to the creation of neuron stem cells, physical exercise increases the flow of oxygen to the brain, aiding brain function.  Along with oxygen, hormone levels that govern various facets of brain development increase, while stress hormones decrease.  Both facilitating brain growth and positive emotional development.

That’s not all! The exercise brain connection also fuels corrective processes that actually heal the brain.  All of this is good news, it means our brains do not have to simply wither as we age, and brain damage has hope of repair through mental exercises and physical therapy.

What Exercises Are Best?

Ready to exercise your way to a healthier, smarter you?  You may be wondering which exercises are best.  Basically, if it is good for your heart, it will also be good for your brain.

Aerobic exercises, especially because of the increased oxygen in take, are a great place to start. These are easy to do and usually require no special equipment. Walking, running, swimming, and biking are examples of common aerobic exercises.

Kick your brain workout up a notch by choosing exercises that cross the mid-line of your body.  Cross lateral activity gets both sides of the brain communicating, stimulating greater growth and stronger connections. These exercises can be as simple as touching your left hand to your right toe.  A series of cross lateral stretches in the morning will have your brain awake and ready to learn something new.

 

Never Stop Growing, Just Keep Learning

At Global Learn Day, we celebrate the gift of learning at all ages, and promote life long learning as a foundational habit for everyone. As One Planet, One People lets support each others’ brain quest by providing encouragement and resources to keep our bodies and minds fit!

How will you exercise your brain today?

To learn more, please check out:
https://blog.brainbalance.com/blog/2016/06/crossing-midline-learning-differences
https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/fulfillment-any-age/201102/get-out-and-walk-your-brain-will-thank-you
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18286387

 

 

 

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9 Reasons to Read with Your Ears

Have you ever read with you ears?  Yes, that’s right with your ears.  Just as the blind read with their fingers, your ears can read for you.  The function of reading is the transfer of information.  Regardless of how it is transferred, reading is a powerful skill and a gateway to lifelong learning.

Audio books and reading aloud provide a reading environment that is not only enjoyable but accessible to all students, regardless of age.  With advancing technology allowing downloads anywhere and easy portability of recordings, there are so many reasons to give audiobooks a try!

Here are nine ways that reading with you ears is beneficial–in some cases more so than reading with you eyes.

9 Benefits to Reading with Your Ears:

  1. Access to information: Anyone can listen to an audiobook.  Whether the “reader”is struggling with basic decoding or wants to read above his present ability, listening to a book–whether fiction or a textbook–opens the door to learn information that would otherwise be inaccessible.
  2. Development of key skills: Listening to books being read aloud, increases fluency and develops comprehension skills. Both of these are vital to successful reading
  3. Common ground: In the classroom or the home, a audiobook levels the playing field. Everyone can have a shared reading experience regardless of ability. This allows families to bond over a great piece of literature. It also afford student, who may otherwise struggle, to become part of the conversation around her and participate in the culture of learning.
  4. Higher self-esteem and confidence: Being able to listen to a text helps to build confidence.  Struggling readers can easily accomplish what may otherwise seem impossible. Being able to read and discuss a book boosts self-esteem.
  5. Fostering a love of reading and storytelling: Storytelling is a lost art that served as great entertainment in days gone by.  Listening to a story, helps to increase the love of reading by drawing the listener in to the magic of the written word.
  6. Richer vocabulary: Audiobooks develop vocabulary for all readers. A wider vocabulary allows for better comprehension of books read with the eyes, also.
  7. More time to read: Life is busy in the modern world.  People have little time to just sit and relax with a good book.  Audiobooks can easily be transported wherever you go.  In addition, they can be enjoyed while accomplishing mundane tasks, such are washing dishes or commuting to work.
  8. Increased listening skills: Listening is essential to reading.  Comprehension is reliant on the reader being able to listen to the story he is reading in his head and understanding.  Listening skills are important and needed in every facet life.
  9. Fueling imagination: Books have wings and time machines. A good book draws the reader into the story in a way that it becomes real.  Audiobooks and read alouds intensify this experience by freeing the readers mind to get lost in the text without having to think of the mechanics of reading.

What have you read with your ears lately?

For more information, check out:

Audiobooks help raise reading scores

5 Infographics that depict the importance of audiobooks

Audiobooks offer unexpected benefits

The Benefits of Audiobooks

 

 

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Education Has Flipped Out!

Has your classroom flipped?  Like desks on the ceiling you might ask.  No, flipped in terms of structure and instruction.  Flipped education is the latest trend but how is it really done?

The History of the Flip

Though the general idea dates back to a thesis paper from University of Miami professors in 2000. Although the true flipped learning movement took really took root in 2007 when Aaron Sams and Jon Bergmann, Colorado High School teachers, began using technology to record their lectures for absent students.

Shortly after, they came up with the idea of prerecording all their lectures for students to view at home, so classroom time could be spend on in depth projects and collaborative learning.  Originally called pre-broadcasting, it eventually became known as a flipped classroom.

What It’s Flipping Not!

As the trend has grown, so has the misconceptions of it’s aim and practice.  Flipped education does not simply mean watching videos and answering multiple choice questions.  Neither does the idea of “school work at home, homework at school” capture the true essence of the technique.

The recorded classes are a means to the method’s end but not the whole method.  The technology serves the purpose to make flipping possible but does not define the shift in educational practice.

Reservations and Requirements

One of the top concerns with starting a flipped classroom is the requirement for all students to have the Internet at home.  However, founders Sams and Bergmann say the Internet should never be a sticking point.

Videos can be loaded onto thumb drives, burned onto CDs, or uploaded to Ipods.  In addition, students should have the option of how they will learn the material.  Learning the material from a textbook or series of worksheets is just as valid as from a video.  The importance is how classroom time is spent.

Classroom Time in a Paradigm Shift

Flipped classrooms provide the space and time for teachers to interact on a more interpersonal level with students.  Affording students to indulge in project based learning, hands-on activities, lab experiments, and collaborative experiences.

Instead of the teacher being the center of the classroom time, learning and projects are.  The teacher becomes a facilitator as opposed to a lecturer.

Four Pillars of a FLIP

Authentic flipped education contains these four elements:

  1. Flexible Environment
  2. Learning Culture
  3. Intentional Content
  4. Professional Educator

With these four elements and a drive to provide accessible resources for student led study outside of classroom and student driven learning within the classroom walls, flipped education has the potential to revolutionize schools.

All of this innovation and initiative is aimed at one very dire epidemic–the high school drop our rate.  In the United States alone, 7,200 students drop out of high school each day.  That leads to 1.3 million young adults with incomplete educations every year.

By engaging students in meaningful learning and exciting class sessions, teachers like Sams and Bergmann hope to retain those who just are not being reached by the traditional model of lecture, homework, testing.  In addition, self directed learning leads to lifelong learning, the ultimate goal of any education.

What do you think?  Are you ready to flip?

 

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Fun with Learning – The Raven

Recently, I was able to participate in a Global Learn Day Story time at our 2017 partner, Baby Cotton Bottoms. Education is fun for me, especially when I am able to work with people who are fully engaged. Excitement about a project often breeds the best educational opportunities!

So, as I planned our event for #GLD2017, I selected a children’s book I had not seen before. I chose “Edgar and the Tattle-Tale Heart” by Jennifer Adams. It is one of the Baby Lit First Steps Books that you can purchase through Baby Cotton Bottoms. To go with our story time, we needed a fun craft that kids and bystanders could work on. I loved the spooky theme of the book and tied it in with Halloween to create this!

These make great trick or treat bags and Halloween gift bags!

To make one…

  • Buy a pack of white or brown plain gift bags.
  • Black stick on felt paper. (These come in two packs – you can easily make a dozen with one pack.)
  • A stencil or cut out for the raven (we got ours here!)
  • Puff paint or other art supplies. (We had pipe cleaners, markers, extra scraps of the paper and google eyes in addition to the puff paint!)

To make things easy for our #GLD2017 event, I prearranged everything. Then, during the event we were able to read our story, which you can watch here and work on our craft. The kids had a blast!

Their finished products were each unique and one little girl even decided to take home supplies for her friend!

And just like that, we had introduced children to Poe and Literature while they had FUN!

Did you enjoy this craft or book? Let us know!

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Learning Beyond the Books

Education matters.  It changes lives and ultimately changes the world.  Global Learn Day is committed to promoting education and inspiring learning. However, we often only think of education as book learning, focusing on the core school subjects.  This however is a narrow view of how we must educate our child and ourselves.

Life Skills Matter, Too

Life skills are essential to every human being.  They are the learning that is often passed on through families and tradition.  These hands on lessons are so very important and no less worthy of time than quantum physics.

STEM lessons may be what creates the next big invention, but life skill learning is what keeping the world going.

What Are Life Skills?

Life skills are those abilities that are needed to live a productive life. They are often not quantitative achievements and so are often overlooked in the modern push for rank and reward. However, mastery of life skills will not only make living in the world as an independent adult possible but will also enhance your employability, despite not being featured on your transcript.

Some examples of life skills are:

  • cooking
  • basic repairs
  • personal care
  • planning
  • public speaking
  • time management
  • stress management
  • self awareness
  • note taking
  • problem solving
  • ingenuity
  • conflict resolution
  • negotiation
  • nutrition and meal preparation
  • budgeting
  • bookkeeping
  • house keeping
  • gardening

These are just a sampling of knowledge that enhances your life and gives you an edge in the work force.  While some of these may seem obsolete in the digital age, being self-sufficient leads to a better understanding of the world around you and the ability to navigate pitfalls more easily. In addition, working with your hands lends itself to innovation by fueling creativity.

The Mother of All Invention

We have all heard the phrase that “Necessity is the mother of all invention.” This is mostly true and need most definitely inspires new answers to problems. However, another, often ignored, skill goes hand in hand with invention. It is making do.

In the progressive and prosperous western culture, this skill is rapidly being lost.  The illusion of unlimited resources leads many to consume continually instead of conserve.

Making do involves using what you have to get what you need.  It is a side effect of becoming self reliant.  Life skills lend themselves to creating individuals who are more resilient and capable to care for themselves. As One Planet, One People, these skills are not only a boon to our own future, but a gift to the world around us. Consuming less and understanding more aids the life of everyone around the world.

Another R to Learn

With the race to become the best in STEM and technology, we must not forget the less flashy learning that is essential to our survival as a civilization and a global community. Self-Reliance and self-sufficiency skills need to be taught along with the 3 R’s and STEM to create whole, productive, adults for the future–a future of peace and prosperity for all.

Families, schools, and communities must to find ways to pass on these abilities to build creative and competent citizens of tomorrow.

How can you pass on life skill wisdom?

 

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