Building the Perfect School

Building the Perfect School

Education is the cornerstone of our society. In school, we learn to think creatively, work diligently, and act thoughtfully.

Innovative and progressive approaches to education from around the world inspired our team at Desire2Learn (D2L) to build and visualize the perfect super school.

In this infographic, we highlight schools in Baltimore, Singapore, Ontario, Finland, and the UK. These schools tackle mental health, financial literacy, technology, and interdisciplinary education.

Meditation

At Robert W. Coleman Elementary in West Baltimore, students who act out are sent to a meditation room. The “Mindful Moment Room” is lavender scented, bright, and filled with pillows and yoga mats. Trained staff and yoga teachers talk with students about their behavior and lead breathing exercises. This program helps students to improve their mental health through mindful practices.

Technology

In Singapore, teachers train at the National Institute of Education. The Classrooms of the Future Lab instructs teachers on how to use technology to enhance their future students’ education. This training includes 4D learning, video conferencing, and several other digital tools.

Life skills

In 2017, the Ontario government introduced a financial skills module for 10th grade career studies classes. In this module, students learn how to make important financial decisions, including: choosing a cell phone contract, investing in long-term savings, avoiding unmanageable debt, and how to save for old age and health care expenses.

Interdisciplinary Education

In Finland, traditional subjects are being replaced with interdisciplinary topics. Students take both academic and vocational classes. Academic classes focus on topics like the EU and World War II through the lens of subjects like economics, geography and history. Vocational classes have students working in a cafe where they learn economics, communication, and math.

Combining these approaches to education from around the world will ensure that the next generation of leaders receives the most comprehensive, innovative education imaginable.

The world of education is continuously evolving. D2L is at the heart of this evolution, empowering schools to offer better learning experiences for their students.

Building the Perfect School Infographic

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Infographic Transcript

Building the Perfect School: Highlighting the World’s Most Innovative Approaches to Education

There are so many great, progressive, innovative approaches to education rolling out in schools systems around the world right now. Wouldn’t it be great if we could take the best of each approach, wrap it all together, and build the perfect super school?

Here we highlight great examples of educational approaches, from the pragmatism of teaching financial literacy to teens to incorporating empathy and mental health in the daily lives of students.

In Baltimore, students are sent to meditation instead of detention. It’s all about curbing bad behaviour by promoting mental health.

At Robert W. Coleman Elementary School in West Baltimore, when kids act up, they go to a meditation room instead of the principal’s office. Students have the opportunity to calm down and be more mindful. The school partnered with the non-profit Holistic Life Foundation for this program.

For this initiative, the school launched the “Mindful Moment Room”:

  • A lavender-scented, bright, inviting room
  • Filled with pillows and yoga mats
  • Trained staff and yoga teachers are there to speak with students about the reasons for their behavior. Then they run through breathing exercises and stretches with student.

The Socio-Economics of this Approach.

Many of the students at this school come from vulnerable communities.

  • ¼ of Baltimore residents live below the poverty line
  • 80% of students at this school qualify for free or reduced-price lunches
  • Some children at the school are homeless

Holistic Life Foundation co-founder Andres Gonzalez said in an interview about this school: “I’ve had a kid come in and look at me straight in the face with no emotions and say, ‘my grandfather got shot yesterday’ …So you can imagine what these kids have to face.”

Similar philosophy in the UK, 2007

The SEAL Initiative (Social and Educational Aspects of Learning) helps promote mental health and emotional wellbeing by teaching:

  • Self-awareness
  • Motivation
  • Empathy
  • Social skills

Singapore is bringing technology to the classroom in a bigger way than ever.

Singapore’s teachers-in-training are learning not only to incorporate tech into the classrooms of the future, but to use tech for real world simulations that expose children to life outside the classroom.

Classrooms of the Future Lab.

Singapore’s National Institute of Education, where teachers-in-training learn how technology can push their pedagogy to the next level:

  • 4D Learning: Sounds and smells go along with the 3D components of a classroom scenario
    • The smell of burning and the sound of alarm bells signal that students failed to reduce human consumption and the damage of climate change.
  • Video conferencing with international students to learn about other cultures
  • New teachers → studying communication and information tech + must know why tech benefits the classroom and students
  • Digital tools added to classrooms

Ontario students are learning to balance the books in Ontario, where schools are now teaching financial literacy.

In February 2017, the Ontario government announced a financial skills module for 10th grade Career Studies classes.

  • 70% of students want to learn more about financial literacy, according to an OECD study that helped to push through this pilot project
  • 63% of young adults in Canada believe it’s important to learn personal finance while young.
  • 73% of young adults in Denmark have little or no knowledge of interest rates.
  • Only 27% of young adults in the US know about inflation and can do basic interest calculations.

2008 Financial Crisis:

  • A shortfall in the public’s understanding of finances led many to make ill-informed decisions about mortgages.
  • In response to this crisis, the OECD made a push to incorporate financial literacy in schools.

Teaching kids how to make financial decisions in an increasingly complex world:

  • Choosing cell phone contracts
  • Saving for the future
  • Avoiding unmanageable debt
  • Saving for old age and health care

“One of the reasons the rich get richer, the poor get poorer and the middle class struggles in debt is because the subject of money is taught at home, not at school,” said education entrepreneur Robert Kiyosaki.

Finland is getting rid of subjects, and putting a modern spin on curriculums and teaching styles.

Finland is replacing traditional subjects with an interdisciplinary approach to topics. Subjects like math, science and literature are being replaced with topics. For example:

Academic Classes include:

  • World War II, studied through the lens of math, geography and history.
  • The EU, which would include studying economics, history, languages & geography.

Vocational Classes include:

  • Working in a Cafe, in which students learn about economics, communication and languages.
  • Cafeteria Services, which includes learning about maths, languages & writing skills.

The Finland approach also includes a whole new classroom layout. This means less sitting in rows facing the teacher, and more collaborative group work and problem solving.

The wheels are in motion on this new approach:

  • 16-year-old students in Helsinki’s schools are the first group experiencing the new system.
  • 70% of Helsinki’s teachers have already trained in the new curriculum.
  • 2020 is the target year for rolling this out across Finland.

Meanwhile, In Finland’s elementary schools, students are enjoying more recess and educational play time.

Kids in Finland schools responding well to less rigid approach of:

  • Learning through play
  • Four daily outdoor recesses for free-play time
  • Less homework than other developed countries

This approach has led to good metrics in the following:

  • Focus and concentration
  • Behavior
  • Well-being and physical health
  • Attendance
  • Test scores

Research Links:

Meditation Instead of Detention — Baltimore
Technology in the Classroom — Singapore
Balancing the Books: Teaching Financial Literacy in Schools — Ontario
Getting Rid of Subjects, and Breaking the Rules — Finland