I’ve recently been thinking about a young boy I taught in a Grade three class back in the late 1990s. Damir and his family had fled war-torn Bosnia, and he started school in Australia for the first time in his life as an eight-year-old with not a word of English. Damir was a bright, brave and curious student who loved learning and being at school. He ended up graduating high school a year ahead of his peers and going on to study a double degree at university and is now enjoying a successful career as an international lawyer. Damir’s early years most definitely shaped the person he is today, as did the years of his education that followed.

When I think about Damir’s story I feel a sense of hope for our children today. The COVID-19 pandemic will undoubtedly leave a lasting impact on their lives, but they are not living through war, and they are not being forced to flee their homes. Their schooling, although disrupted, is still being supported by dedicated, expert education professionals. If we keep our children safe and look out for their emotional and mental wellbeing, I believe they will emerge from this experience with no harm done to their long-term education. In fact, I think this could well be a time where our children develop skills and dispositions that they may not have otherwise had the opportunity to acquire.

Here’s my list of top ten learning outcomes I am hoping will be the legacy of COVID-19 for children around the world:

1 Develop a Growth or Innovation Mindset

We can’t always change the situations we find ourselves in, but we can change the way we think about them. What if our children focus on developing their mindsets during the pandemic? A growth mindset will help motivate children to learn and develop new skills during this time, whilst an innovation mindset will help them view this situation as an opportunity to solve problems and invent new things. See 5 Real-Life COVID-19 Problems To Help Students Develop An Innovation Mindset.

2 Develop Empathy

We are all experiencing the COVID-19 crisis differently. What if our children focus on developing empathy? The ability to understand the experiences of others and walk in the shoes of our neighbours would be a wonderful legacy of this time. See 10 Coronavirus 3D Design Challenges For Students.

3 Develop Resourcefulness

We’ve all had to miss out on activities we like doing and make do without all of the material possessions we are used to having easy access to. What if our children focus on being resourceful? Is there another way to do a favourite activity without leaving the house? Is there a way to make something we would normally buy from the shop? See 10 Social Distancing & Self Isolation 3D Design Challenges.

4 Develop Creativity

The reality we are living in is pretty frightening and uncertain but we can all imagine a positive future, and we can engage our minds with positive, interesting endeavours. What if our children focus on being creative? This is a great time to be dreaming up amazing characters, writing stories, making music, design masterpieces or creating exciting short films.

5 Become More Collaborative

We are all being asked to keep away from each other, but we also need to work together to support each other and find our way through this crisis. What if our children focus on being collaborative? How can we use technology to connect with our friends, or make new friends? How can we work on a joint project without being physically together? Our young people could emerge from this crisis with new networks and skills to collaborate across the globe.

6 Strengthen a Sense of Belonging

We all need the support and love of the people who care about us right now. What if our children focus on strengthening their identities and sense of belonging? Many families find themselves spending more time together, getting to know each other on a deeper level and establishing new traditions and shared interests.

7 Become a Critical Thinker

We are being bombarded with so much information and media attention about COVID-19. What if our children focus on becoming critical thinkers? How can we support our children to spot fake news and biased reporting? How can we help them think for themselves and make up their own minds about what they see, hear and read?

8 Develop Resilience and Persistence

We’re all facing challenges and problems we are being forced to work through at the moment. What if our children focus on developing resilience and persistence? This is a great time to be learning new skills to help around the house such as cooking, gardening and DIY projects. With plenty of time to practice, our children can make mistakes, challenge themselves and keep trying until they master the new skill.

9 Strengthen Mindfulness

In amongst the chaos caused by COVID-19, many of us are finding we have more time on our hands at home. What if our children focus on developing mindfulness? How can we instil times of calm and quiet in our children’s daily lives? Time to reflect, to notice the world around them, and to make observations using their senses could be a precious gift to our children during these times.

10 Practise Gratitude

It’s easy to feel upset and angry about the impact the virus has had on our everyday lives but if we are safe and well, we also have a lot to feel grateful for. What if our children focus on feeling gratitude during this time? Who are the important people in their lives? How can they show these people that they appreciate the things they do for them?

The year 2020 has not turned out the way any of us planned or could have imagined. None of us would have wished this situation for ourselves or our friends and families. But maybe, just maybe, our children can come out of this year with new skills and empowering ways of viewing the world and their place in it. My hope is that COVID-19 will prove to leave at least some kind of positive legacy for our children and young people.


AUTHOR BIOGRAPHY

Mandi Dimitriadis, DipT. is the award-winning, highly regarded and passionate Director of Learning at Makers Empire. She is an experienced classroom teacher who recognises the power of technology to enhance teaching and improve educational outcomes. Mandi has extensive experience with curriculum development and learning, having previously developed programs for the Australian Government’s Department of Education, and having created custom curriculum for Makers Empire schools in the USA, China and the UAE. She is passionate about Design Thinking and how best to prepare today’s students for the future.

 


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