You know that the world is changing when new forms of ‘literacy’ are being described and taught in schools.
‘Literacy’ used to involve students developing the knowledge and skills to read, write and interpret language confidently. But that was back in the days before fake news, credit cards, and Twitter.
Of course, reading and writing are still foundational skills. But there are other ‘literacies’ emerging that may well be equally critical in the future lives of our students. Here are a few of the most important:
- Digital literacy — skills associated with harnessing computer-based devices and services;
- Data & Media literacy — being able to access, filter, digest and make meaning of the masses of available data and to leverage different platforms of data consumption and delivery;
- News literacy — learning to discern between, efficiently evaluate, and effectively respond to different news sources and stories;
- Financial literacy — being empowered to understand and harness the increasingly complex and personalised financial systems available to us;
- Wellbeing literacy — having the skills and knowledge to nurture our own wellbeing and the wellbeing of people we care about.
Schools are pretty good, on the whole, at carefully scaffolding the learning of traditional ‘literacy’. They’ve been doing it for a while! And, now, it’s exciting to see that many progressive and responsive schools are turning their attention to tackling the challenge of teaching a new generation of literacies too – to really prepare their students for a changing world.
Language, it seems, is not entirely necessary for conscious thought. We can think about the taste of toothpaste, or the shape of a balloon without needing to access language.
But imagine trying to understand racism or potential or electricity without language.
Ludwig Wittgenstein, Austrian philosopher, wrote in 1922 that: “The limits of my language are the limits of my mind.” As we expand our vocabulary, we develop more nuanced ways of understanding the world and of understanding each other.
And this, in part, is why the teaching of wellbeing science to students is so important. When they learn, for example, that “serenity” is one of the most commonly experienced human emotions, or that “prudence” and “zest” are two universal strengths of character, students perceive their world differently. And when have access to the language of “negativity bias” and “emotional contagion” they gain a way to view, process, and talk about their social environment.
There are many significant benefits of placing wellbeing science at the heart of education, but the development of wellbeing literacy throughout a school community may be the most transformational element of all.
Here are 10 interesting facts that you probably didn’t know about education.
- There is a worldwide shortage of well-trained teachers. According to the UNESCO Institute for Statistics (UIS), 69 million teachers must be recruited to achieve universal primary and secondary education by 2030.
- In many developing countries, people with just one additional year of schooling earn 10% higher wages.
- Globally, there are around 60 million primary school-age children not enrolled in school. About half of them will never enter school.
- Approximately 500 million women and 250 million men remain illiterate. Andorra, Finland, and Norway all have 100% literacy rates whilst South Sudan has just 27%.
- The King’s School in Kent, England is the oldest continuously operating school in the world. It was founded in 597 AD.
- The average age of teachers in Singapore is 36 years. In Italy, it’s 49
- The City Montessori School in the Indian city of Lucknow is the world’s largest school. CMS has approximately 52,000 K-12 students spread across 18 campuses.
- Many schools in Brazil begin their academic day at 7am.
- Russian primary school students spend approximately 470 hours in the classroom during the school year which is about half the hours that US and Australian primary students spend in school.
- Although no one really knows exactly, most estimates suggest that there are somewhere between 4 and 6 million schools in the world.