Navigating the AI-Driven Job Landscape: Preparing Generations Z and Alpha

Navigating the AI-Driven Job Landscape: Preparing Generations Z and Alpha 

In an era characterized by rapid technological advancements, artificial intelligence (AI) is poised to transform the job landscape for Generations Z and Alpha. As AI continues to revolutionize industries, educators and schools play a crucial role in equipping students with the skills and mindset needed to thrive in this evolving landscape.

The AI Impact on Jobs

AI's influence on jobs is multifaceted. Automation is likely to replace certain routine and repetitive tasks across industries, affecting roles such as data entry, manual labor, and basic customer service. However, the integration of AI also presents opportunities for new job roles and industries. Generation Z and Generation Alpha will experience both challenges and prospects as they navigate this dynamic job landscape.

Skills for Success

To prepare students for the AI-driven job market, educators and schools should focus on cultivating skills that complement AI and automation:

1. Critical Thinking and Problem-Solving: AI excels at processing data, but human intelligence shines in complex decision-making and creative problem-solving. Encouraging students to analyze information critically and find innovative solutions will remain invaluable.

2. Digital Literacy: Understanding how AI works and its implications is essential. Students should be educated about AI concepts, algorithms, and ethical considerations, allowing them to engage thoughtfully with AI-driven technologies.

3. Adaptability and Lifelong Learning: Given the pace of technological change, the ability to adapt and learn new skills will be crucial. Schools should foster a growth mindset and emphasize continuous learning to prepare students for multiple career shifts.

4. Emotional Intelligence: Jobs requiring empathy, interpersonal skills, and emotional understanding will endure. Educators should help students develop emotional intelligence to excel in roles involving human interaction.

5. Collaboration and Communication: AI will enhance collaboration and communication tools. Teaching students how to effectively work with AI systems and collaborate with diverse teams will be essential.

Educational Strategies for Preparedness

Educators and schools can implement several strategies to ensure that Generation Z and Generation Alpha are equipped for AI-driven workplaces:

1. Integrated AI Curriculum: Introduce AI concepts across subjects to familiarize students with its applications. Projects and assignments that involve AI-related topics can help students grasp its real-world relevance.

2. Experiential Learning: Hands-on experiences, such as coding projects, AI simulations, and robotics workshops, can spark interest and encourage active learning about AI technologies.

3. Ethics and Responsible AI: Teach students about the ethical considerations surrounding AI, including bias, privacy, and accountability. Encourage them to think critically about the societal impacts of AI.

4. Industry Partnerships: Collaborate with industries to offer internships, mentorship programs, and guest lectures. This exposure can bridge the gap between classroom learning and real-world applications.

5. Soft Skills Development: Embed opportunities for teamwork, public speaking, and problem-solving into the curriculum. These skills are essential for AI-augmented work environments.

Conclusion

The rise of AI presents both opportunities and challenges for Generation Z and Generation Alpha in the job market. By nurturing a blend of technical and soft skills, educators and schools can empower students to thrive in a world where AI is an integral part of their professional lives. Equipped with adaptability, critical thinking, and ethical awareness, these generations will be well-prepared to shape the future of work in an AI-driven world.

Other News and Announcements

Ravi is currently available for both in-person and virtual online keynotes.  Click here to learn more about both of these (and see his video specifically on Virtual Keynotes).

https://raviunites.com/keynotes

A number of school districts have inquired about online convocations.  If you are interested in having Ravi deliver your 2024 or 2025 school convocation keynote, please send us a message through our contact page, https://raviunties.com/contact/.

Ravi Unites Schools Update

If you or your organization would like to learn more about becoming a strategic partner of Ravi Unites Schools, please send an email to connect@raviunitesschools.com.  Meanwhile, we will still be setting up interactions as we are able.

The Double-Edged Sword: Benefits and Challenges of Using Alumni Educators to Bridge the Teacher Shortage Gap  

The Double-Edged Sword: Benefits and Challenges of Using Alumni Educators to Bridge the Teacher Shortage Gap  

 

As schools grapple with the ever-growing teacher shortage crisis, innovative solutions are being explored to address the gaps in the education system. One such idea gaining traction is the concept of alumni educators – individuals who return to their alma mater to teach. While this approach offers many benefits, it is also crucial to recognize the downsides and challenges associated with relying heavily on alumni educators to close the teacher shortage gap.

Benefits

1. Deep Connection to the Community
Alumni educators bring a unique perspective and a deep-rooted understanding of the school's culture, values, and challenges. This intrinsic connection enables them to better relate to students, collaborate effectively with colleagues, and navigate the complexities of the education system.

2. Enhanced Role Models
Alumni educators serve as living proof that success can be achieved through education. Their journey from students to educators inspires current students to believe in their potential and strive for excellence. The presence of relatable role models can have a profound impact on student motivation and achievement.

3. Reduced Recruitment Challenges
Schools can reduce the struggle of finding new teachers by actively encouraging their own graduates to consider a career in education. The familiarity and positive experiences they have with the institution can serve as a powerful incentive to pursue teaching careers.

4. Retention and Commitment
Alumni educators often exhibit a strong commitment to their alma mater, resulting in higher retention rates. They are more likely to stay in their teaching positions, contributing to the stability and consistency of the school's faculty.

5. Contextualized Teaching
Familiarity with the school's curriculum, teaching methods, and student demographics empowers alumni educators to tailor their approaches to meet the unique needs of their students effectively.

6. Continuity and Evolution
Alumni educators can help bridge the gap between established traditions and the need for innovation. Their intimate knowledge of the school's history allows them to balance continuity with fresh perspectives, benefiting the institution's evolution.

Challenges

1. Limited Diversity of Perspectives
Drawing predominantly from the pool of former students can lead to a lack of diversity in perspectives among the teaching staff. While alumni educators might have an intimate understanding of the school's culture and history, their experiences might be limited to a particular demographic or background. This can hinder the creation of a well-rounded learning environment that exposes students to a broad spectrum of ideas and experiences.

2. Professionalism and Authority
Alumni educators might struggle to establish themselves as authoritative figures in the classroom, especially among students who remember them as peers. Maintaining a balance between friendly familiarity and the respect commanded by a teacher can be challenging. This dynamic can impact classroom management and student behavior, potentially hindering the learning process.

3. Professional Development Needs
Alumni educators might require additional training and professional development to transition smoothly into the role of an educator. While they have a strong connection to the school, they might lack the necessary pedagogical skills, classroom management techniques, and curriculum development expertise. Providing ongoing support for their growth can be resource-intensive.

4. Potential for Insularity
An overreliance on alumni educators can create a closed system that doesn't welcome fresh perspectives from outside the institution. This insularity might hinder the evolution of teaching methods, curriculum design, and the adoption of best practices from other educational institutions.

5. Addressing the Shortage at its Roots
While utilizing alumni educators can provide temporary relief, it's essential to address the teacher shortage at its root causes. Comprehensive efforts to improve the image of the teaching profession, increase compensation, offer incentives for experienced educators to remain in the field, and streamline teacher certification processes are crucial steps to ensure a sustainable solution.

6. Balancing Tradition and Innovation
Relying solely on alumni educators can create a challenge in finding the right balance between preserving the institution's traditions and embracing innovative teaching practices. Striking this balance is essential to meet the evolving needs of students while honoring the school's legacy.

Conclusion

The use of alumni educators to close the teacher shortage gap presents both opportunities and challenges. While these educators can bring a unique sense of commitment and understanding to their roles, it's vital to carefully consider the potential downsides, such as limited perspectives, professionalism issues, and the need for ongoing professional development. Ultimately, a well-rounded approach that combines alumni educators with efforts to attract and retain a diverse range of qualified educators is essential to ensure the continued success of our education system.

 

Other News and Announcements

Ravi is currently available for both in-person and virtual online keynotes.  Click here to learn more about both of these (and see his video specifically on Virtual Keynotes).

https://raviunites.com/keynotes

A number of school districts have inquired about online convocations.  If you are interested in having Ravi deliver your 2024 or 2025 school convocation keynote, please send us a message through our contact page, https://raviunties.com/contact/.

Ravi Unites Schools Update

If you or your organization would like to learn more about becoming a strategic partner of Ravi Unites Schools, please send an email to connect@raviunitesschools.com.  Meanwhile, we will still be setting up interactions as we are able.

Disruptive Technologies in Education: From Calculators to ChatGPT

Disruptive Technologies in Education: From Calculators to ChatGPT

Future Of Ai Assistant Apps: What Can You Expect - USM Systems

The evolution of education has been significantly impacted by disruptive technologies that have reshaped the traditional classroom and transformed the way students learn. From the introduction of calculators to the emergence of cutting-edge tools like ChatGPT, these innovations have revolutionized teaching methods, classroom dynamics, and the overall learning experience.

The Advent of Calculators

Calculators marked a significant turning point in education by revolutionizing mathematical problem-solving. Before calculators, students relied heavily on manual calculations, which often consumed valuable time during exams and assignments. The introduction of calculators not only expedited complex calculations but also allowed students to focus on understanding mathematical concepts rather than getting lost in computations. This shift led to an increased emphasis on conceptual understanding and problem-solving skills.

Empowering the Mind with Technology

Disruptive technologies like calculators challenged the notion that rote memorization was the sole path to success in education. Instead, they encouraged students to embrace technology as a tool to augment their cognitive abilities. As calculators became more accessible, teachers adapted their teaching strategies to incorporate real-world applications and encourage critical thinking. Students began to see technology as an ally, enhancing their analytical skills and nurturing a mindset of exploration.

ChatGPT and the Interactive Learning Revolution

Fast forward to the present, and we find ourselves in an era defined by advanced artificial intelligence and virtual assistants like ChatGPT. Just as calculators reshaped math education, ChatGPT is transforming the way students learn by providing personalized, interactive support. This technology acts as a virtual companion, engaging in conversations, answering questions, and offering explanations across a myriad of subjects. With its natural language processing capabilities, ChatGPT enhances the learning process and empowers students to inquire, explore, and engage in meaningful dialogues.

Customizing Education for Individual Needs

ChatGPT's ability to personalize learning experiences is a game-changer for the traditional classroom. Students have diverse learning styles and paces, and ChatGPT adapts to these variations, catering to individual needs. Whether it's guiding struggling learners or challenging advanced students, this technology creates an environment where education is tailored to the unique strengths and weaknesses of each student.

Collaborative Learning and Beyond

Disruptive technologies in education foster collaborative learning by encouraging peer interaction and group discussions. ChatGPT facilitates collaborative brainstorming sessions, where students can exchange ideas, analyze information, and collectively solve problems. This enhances teamwork, communication skills, and social interaction among students, paving the way for a more interactive and engaging classroom.

Conclusion

From the introduction of calculators to the integration of virtual assistants like ChatGPT, disruptive technologies have continuously transformed the traditional classroom, redefining how students learn and engage with educational content. These innovations have empowered students to think critically, solve complex problems, and approach learning with a fresh perspective. As the educational landscape continues to evolve, one thing remains clear: disruptive technologies are not mere tools; they are catalysts that shape the future of education, unlocking new dimensions of exploration and empowerment for generations to come.

Other News and Announcements

Ravi is currently available for both in-person and virtual online keynotes.  Click here to learn more about both of these (and see his video specifically on Virtual Keynotes).

https://raviunites.com/keynotes

A number of school districts have inquired about online convocations.  If you are interested in having Ravi deliver your 2024 or 2025 school convocation keynote, please send us a message through our contact page, https://raviunties.com/contact/.

Ravi Unites Schools Update

If you or your organization would like to learn more about becoming a strategic partner of Ravi Unites Schools, please send an email to connect@raviunitesschools.com.  Meanwhile, we will still be setting up interactions as we are able.

The Arts in Public Education – An excerpt from PIVOT

PIVOT: Empowering Students Today to Succeed in an Unpredictable Tomorrow

Excerpt from Chapter 3, "Life is Like a Game of Cards"

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Chapter three begins with Ravi's heritage and how his parents settled in the United States.  As his family unit began to crumble, he found his grounding in the arts, which is where this excerpt begins. 

While my parents were losing themselves in anger and sadness, I was finding myself in curiosity and creativity. I grew disenchanted with the corporate lifestyle my family represented and started to dream that one day, I would become a rock star. Pleased that I was showing an interest in something, my mother bought me an electric guitar for my eleventh birthday. I was not particularly interested in becoming a musician, but I enjoyed making lots of noise in my bedroom, pretending to be Angus Young of AC/DC on stage in New York’s Madison Square Garden.

Between the tensions at home and my new distraction with music, going to school became increasingly unrelatable and unenjoyable. I had friends, but being shorter and browner than average, not to mention having a name no one could easily pronounce, I felt like an outcast. I was bored with classes and probably harbored inner rage toward my family life, which made me increasingly insubordinate in school. Eventually, the principal grew tired of having me sent to his office, so he assigned me to the school psychologist.

This was my “happy place” in primary school—the more disturbed I claimed to be, the more “parole” I received. Playing card games and building battleship models with him was my preferred way to pass the school day. I cannot say he helped me sort out life, but the sessions certainly helped me tolerate it.

Unfortunately, dedicated school psychologists are rare today. School counselors (a title combining both guidance and psychological counseling) are being asked to perform both career/educational guidance and mental health evaluations—two separate specializations requiring different expertise.

As I discovered a few years ago while preparing to give the keynote for the All Ohio Counselors Conference (comprised of about two thousand school counselors and an equal number of clinical counselors), this combined job cannot serve students well enough given today’s high degree of social-emotional stress and a rapidly changing career landscape. Students who are facing challenges like I did are more likely to fall through the cracks.

My parents’ divorce was finalized three weeks before my 13th birthday, and that summer, my mother and I moved to a much smaller house fifteen minutes away in Old Greenwich. I had to attend a new school, make new friends, and embark on a new and frightening beginning. I quickly made a few new friends in middle school who shared a common interest in music, so we started a band. With this collaboration and camaraderie, my interest in music grew. By the time I reached high school, all I wanted to do was drop out and play music professionally.

I had a good group of school friends, but I was also often bullied by others for being a “headbanger” (I listened to AC/DC, Van Halen, Judas Priest, Kiss, etc.) and was called names like “ravioli” and “Gandhi”—yes, I was apparently already very international!  However, the bullying gave me grit, which helped prepare me for the world. While we should not encourage such behavior, we also should not shelter children from the “school of life.”

There were two reasons why I did not drop out of high school: Anne Modugno, who taught electronic music and music theory, and Carmel Signa, who was the jazz band director. I was lucky to have them in my life because drugs, cigarettes, and alcohol were often used and abused by my peers to get through the pressures of growing up in Greenwich. For me, music became my drug, and Anne and Carmel were my schoolyard dealers. They recognized, encouraged, and fostered my interest to the point where the escape the school psychologist provided for me in primary school was more than replaced by the music department in high school. I spent every free period and many after school hours with Anne and Carmel, and they always made time for me to learn as much as I could.

I reconnected with them thirty years later when I began giving keynotes for education conferences and reflecting on who influenced my life. They remembered me as a musically dedicated teenager and very much believed in me. Today, I can call them friends. It is remarkable how teacher-student relationships can pivot into adult friendships, and what gives me great satisfaction is that I not only realized how essential they were to my happiness and success, but I have personally been able to thank them. The music department is why I am not a high school dropout.

Parents should encourage their children to express gratitude toward teachers. Doing so teaches students to recognize the value of their education. Even if many years have passed, teachers will still appreciate acknowledgment from their students, especially since they will also then be able to witness the results. Since I taught music for many years, I know how much it means to witness the success of a student and be acknowledged for contributing to it. Teachers generally do not see the results of their hard work because the return on education is rarely evident before ten years have passed.

The chapter continues, demonstrating the importance of outside adult influences who open doors and provide insights and education that goes far beyond the classroom.  Each chatper also concludes with "suggested pivots."  Here are a few that are listed at the end of this chapter:

 

Suggested Pivots from Chapter 3

  • Encourage gratitude. Parents should encourage children to express gratitude toward teachers, even if many years have since passed. This is not only encouraging to teachers, but also teaches students to recognize the value of their education.
  • Provide many electives. Schools must provide something for everyone. There must be at least one subject that makes each student want to come to school every day.
  • Emphasize arts: STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Math) is critical because there is nothing else that teaches empathy, and there is nothing more important than empathy to create a peaceful world. Also consider STREAM (recess).
  • Create a family/school partnership. Families and schools must coordinate and collaborate in both ideology and schedules to best educate the “whole child.” Parents must not view school as a babysitter, and schools must not view family time as an opportunity to impose homework.
  • Promote efficiency over perfect. Perfectionism is a form of procrastination. Teach children to be efficient by setting the example in our own activities and taking every opportunity to show them the rewards of good time management.
  • Focus on less, not more. Today’s students have so much in terms of tools and devices that problem-solving and creativity are stifled. Educators can stimulate creativity by occasionally restricting the tools.
  • Use boredom as a catalyst for creativity. Allow kids to experience boredom and hardship to discover their passions early. Passion is infectious, and parents, teachers, and other adult influences are likely to support and invest in a child’s passion.
  • Teach how to discover opportunities. We only uncover opportunities if we are curious and confident enough to engage in conversations that may have no clear benefit. Curiosity and communication are critical skills. Then, one must feel prepared to seize an opportunity which is where talent and critical thinking come into the equation. Either one has the ability or concludes that one can rise to the occasion.

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Ravi has finished his new book, PIVOT, due to be released before the end of the year.  Learn all about it here: https://raviunites.com/publications

Other News and Announcements

Ravi is currently available for both in-person and virtual online keynotes.  Click here to learn more about both of these (and see his video specifically on Virtual Keynotes).
https://raviunites.com/keynotes

A number of school districts have inquired about online convocations.  If you are interested in having Ravi deliver your 2020 or 2021 school convocation keynote, please send us a message through our contact page, https://raviunties.com/contact/.

Ravi Unites Schools Update

We had two Realtime Audio-Video Interactions scheduled with Shanti Bhavan in India: one with Bethel Elementary School in Virginia and another with Londonderry Middle School in New Hampshire.  All of these schools are currently closed due to COVID-19 and these interactions will be rescheduled for later in the year.

If you or your organization would like to learn more about becoming a strategic partner of Ravi Unites Schools, please send an email to connect@raviunitesschools.com.  Meanwhile, we will still be setting up interactions as we are able.

The Power of Privilege – An excerpt from PIVOT

PIVOT: Empowering Students Today to Succeed in an Unpredictable Tomorrow

Excerpt from Chapter 7, "When Privilege & Poverty Unite"

The unveiling of Krishna Nehru Hutheesing House at Shanti Bhavan in India.

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Chapter seven begins with the section below, and then goes on to explain, in detail, the model of Shanti Bhavan Children's Project in India. This is then juxtaposed with the "free market" education system in Chile. Chilean public education was redesigned under the dictator, Pinochet, by the "Chicago Boys"—the Chilean econnomists who studied at the University of Chicago under American economists Milton Friedman and Arnold Harberger, and privitazed the Chilean economy following the military coup that removed the world's first democratically elected socialists president, Salvador Allende.

Soon after my 45th birthday, I gave the keynote address for a large education conference in California. I did not mention my family heritage or Greenwich-grown privilege, and in fact, I had never publicized either during my music and aviation careers. It just was not something I found relevant. On this occasion, my full biography was printed in the conference program, and during the “meet and greet” following my presentation, an elderly African-American woman approached me, put her hand on mine, and said, “Mahatma Gandhi, Nelson Mandela, and Martin Luther King all came from privilege. Don’t be ashamed of your privilege; just use it for good.”

I realized, at that moment, privilege is indeed nothing to be ashamed of despite the general implication whenever racial or socioeconomic unrest erupts. Moreover, if schools motivate students who have this tool in their toolbox to use it for good, it is potentially the fastest way to defeat social injustice and change the world for the better. I believe the recognition of one’s own power is a stronger force of motivation than the awareness of one’s own guilt. Regularly engaging students in conversations that force them to acknowledge their resources and consider how they can use them for a benefit beyond themselves would be priceless.

Back in 1989, when I graduated high school, the Greenwich public school system ranked in the top twelve of the United States—I assume we were number eleven or twelve because otherwise, we would have celebrated being in the “Top Ten.” During my thirteen years of public education, I attended four different schools within the system. For most of my classmates and me, this elite foundation enables us to maintain our place in the privileged world. Growing up in such an environment comes with a degree of financial security, but it also establishes a high standard of achievement and promotes the pursuit of cultural capital.

Commonly defined as the value society places on non-financial assets that help one move up the social ladder, cultural capital includes quality education, resourceful social networks, and material possessions such as clothes. This, combined with a high value placed on ambition, greatly enhances the potential for financial success. However, happiness and fulfillment may be a different matter. What I failed to recognize in my own privilege as a student practically hit me over the head as an adult, and it was my personal growth during Marie’s illness and discontent with the lack of diversity within the aviation community that reconnected me with someone from my past.

The South Asian Journalism Association had invited me to speak on a panel of authors at Columbia University following the release of my book in 1999. At age 27, this was one of my first professional speaking engagements, and I was sharing the panel with some well-respected South Asian authors. I was clearly the “newbie”; however, since the topic was about being a South Asian published in the United States, I aimed to engage on an equal level since I fit that description.

While Dancin’ with Hanson did not broach the subject of racial identity, my reality as part of Hanson was as a brown person in a high profile all-white American band. At that time, I was also one of only two or three Indians in mainstream Western pop-music (Tony Kanal of the band No Doubt was another, and perhaps Norah Jones can also be pushed into this category). I was able to pivot my music industry experience into a book publishing-related conversation about ethnic and racial biases, and by doing so, garnered the respect of my fellow panelists and the audience.

An Indian gentleman introduced himself to me after my talk, mentioned he knew my father, and enthusiastically solicited me to come and visit his new school in India for the “poorest of the poor.” Abraham George is the founder of Shanti Bhavan Children’s Project, a residential (boarding) school on a mission to eradicate poverty. We exchanged contact information, but other than a systematic follow-up from me, I filed him and his school away as a friendly but relatively inconsequential encounter.

Even though initiative is part of my DNA, Abraham was more proactive than I. He added me to his email list, and for the next decade, sent pictures of each incoming kindergarten class. In 2010, he sent an additional picture: the first graduating class. While I enjoyed the cute 4-year-old faces year after year, I was now awakened to his incredible accomplishment and had to go to India to see it for myself...

(The chapter now dives into the details of India's poor and Shanti Bhavan's model.)

...While I am a Brahmin who grew up in the elite town of Greenwich, Connecticut, I never realized the scope of privilege until age 48. In October 2019, I found myself running from army tanks spraying tear gas on the streets of Santiago de Chile while protestors tossed Molotov cocktails at police. Social unrest was dismantling what had been revered as the most prosperous country in Latin America (following the collapse of Venezuela). Similar riots were simultaneously occurring in Hong Kong, Lebanon, Iraq, India, France, Bolivia, and other countries. For Chileans, they had not experienced this level of violence since the days of President Pinochet, thirty years earlier.

I had only wanted to be a curious observer of a peaceful protest, but everything unraveled so quickly. Without warning, I found myself engulfed in a stampede. My privilege yielded no benefit over those alongside me who were suffering from economic disparity, unaffordable healthcare and education, and few employment opportunities. We were equally blinded by tear gas, and we gagged together as we ran.

(The chapter now investigates how education has perpetuated disparity in Chile, and ways to reverse it.)

Here are the first three "suggested pivots" at the end of Chapter 7

  • Use privilege as a positive thing. Schools can motivate students who have privilege to use it for good. This is potentially the fastest way to defeat social injustices. Recognizing one’s own power is a stronger force of motivation than the awareness of one’s own guilt. Engage students in conversations that force them to identify their resources and also consider how they can use them for a benefit beyond themselves.
  • Teach the social contract. Students in public education need to recognize that their fellow citizens are investing in their future. They, too, have a responsibility to deliver a return on that investment.
  • Purposefully expose disparity. If more people with any degree of privilege obtain a greater level of social responsibility and direct resources toward reducing inequity, the potential for world peace would dramatically increase. Schools can and should foster critical thinking and classroom discussions around current and historical events that showcase such disparities.

 

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Ravi has finished his new book, PIVOT, due to be released before the end of the year.  Learn all about it here: https://raviunites.com/publications

Other News and Announcements

Ravi is currently available for both in-person and virtual online keynotes.  Click here to learn more about both of these (and see his video specifically on Virtual Keynotes).
https://raviunites.com/keynotes

A number of school districts have inquired about online convocations.  If you are interested in having Ravi deliver your 2020 or 2021 school convocation keynote, please send us a message through our contact page, https://raviunties.com/contact/.

Ravi Unites Schools Update

We had two Realtime Audio-Video Interactions scheduled with Shanti Bhavan in India: one with Bethel Elementary School in Virginia and another with Londonderry Middle School in New Hampshire.  All of these schools are currently closed due to COVID-19 and these interactions will be rescheduled for later in the year.

If you or your organization would like to learn more about becoming a strategic partner of Ravi Unites Schools, please send an email to connect@raviunitesschools.com.  Meanwhile, we will still be setting up interactions as we are able.

Educating for Peace – An excerpt from PIVOT

PIVOT: Empowering Students Today to Succeed in an Unpredictable Tomorrow

Excerpt from Chapter 2, "World Peace is Possible ... If We Make it Profitable"

Preorder your autographed copy now to get it first and save 20%!  Click here

Chapter two begins in Iraq with Ravi working with four students from Mosul just released by ISIS days before. He then goes to teach in Beirut, Lebanon, and during a dangerous excursion to Baalbek on the border of Syria, he encounters Hezbollah while trying to avoid ISIS, which is where the excerpt below begins.

As we crossed from the Christian to the Muslim side of the Beqaa Valley, we were stopped by an armed soldier standing on the side of the street. He spoke briefly to my driver in Arabic and then got into the front seat of our car. No one acknowledged me in the back, but I was quickly becoming very aware of the Mother Mary pendant hanging from the rearview mirror as we drove away. These two would not even agree on the same God! My heart pounded rapidly.

They spoke animatedly in Arabic, and I wondered what the conversation was about. Did they realize I was an American? Were they negotiating a deal for my being taken as a hostage? Twenty minutes later, we pulled over to a little hut on the side of the street, and the soldier got out. He tapped on my window. I reluctantly rolled it down and attempted to crack an innocent and friendly smile when he asked, “Café?”

While I was trying to determine the best answer, another man approached the car, waving what appeared to be the Hezbollah flag. It turned out to be a Hezbollah T-shirt, which he was hoping to sell me. Who knew these “terrorists” were so enterprising? I gently shook my head, keeping my mouth shut to hide my American accent. By doing so, I politely declined the coffee and T-shirt (which would have been a fantastic souvenir except for the stress of trying to pass it through US customs!), so my driver restarted the car, and the two of us resumed the journey. Sensing my great relief, he made eye contact with me in his rearview mirror and said,  “Don’t worry. He is Muslim, and I am a Christian. But first, we are both Lebanese.”

In retrospect, I believe the solider was just getting a ride from one checkpoint to the next, but this simple yet profound statement of unity encapsulated many life lessons. My own implicit bias, to begin with, had me wondering if I was the subject of a negotiation. Had I been more open-minded, I might have saved my heart from skipping a few beats. Fear can cause irrational behavior, and when the fear is unjustified (as is often the case in racial and cultural conflicts), the consequences can be unnecessarily harmful.

However, the more global lesson is that if such drastic differences can be overcome between Muslims and Christians, why can’t Democrats and Republicans remember we are all first Americans? Can we teach this to Hindus and Muslims, Israelis and Palestinians, Iraqis and Kurds, Russians and Ukrainians, Straight and Gay, and Black and White? Yes, we can. Cultural competence can and must be taught, and this can be done by first exploring commonalities and then provoking curiosity and civil conversation about our differences.

We soon arrived in Baalbek, and I felt as if I had stepped into a time machine. This city of massive ruins was nothing short of awesome, yet it was also eerie and uncomfortable because no one else was there. Due to the warnings about ISIS and Hezbollah, Baalbek had pretty much become a ghost town. After two hours of walking and climbing through sweltering heat, I sat alone for almost an hour in the ancient and majestic Temple of Bacchus. Its beauty, size, history, and sheer peacefulness mesmerized me, though I was intellectually aware that I was also in one of the most dangerous parts of the world.

While contemplating the juxtaposition of these two realities, my serenity was interrupted by modern technology—breaking news buzzing on my cell phone. Violence had erupted, but it was domestic terrorism on the other side of the world. Ironically, it was happening in my hometown of Charlottesville, Virginia, USA.

On August 12, 2017, white supremacists from Ohio traveled to Charlottesville to protest the removal of Confederate statues. One of General Robert E. Lee sits in our city’s center. The protestors were also gathering to unify the American white nationalist movement when one of them drove his car into a crowd of counter-protesters. A 32-year-old woman was killed, and two responding police officers also perished in a helicopter crash.

Best known for being the home of three American presidents (Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, and James Monroe), along with Jefferson’s University of Virginia, “Charlottesville” has now become a metaphor for white supremacy and racial tension. How ironic that I was having one of the most peaceful days of my life in what is thought to be the most radicalized part of the world when radicalism was unfolding on my doorstep at home.

I returned to Charlottesville from the Middle East with three strong beliefs:

  • Cultural competence is the most important skill for the future
  • Education is the solution to all the world’s problems
  • World peace is possible

As idealistic as “educating for peace” sounds, it is now pragmatic. I believe we will witness the unprecedented simultaneous rise of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and unemployment as technology replaces human workers, along with some type of Universal Basic Income (perhaps in the form of a zero or negative tax rate) to keep the consumer-driven economy afloat. If anticipated by education, the significant amount of human capital released from...

The chapter continues, explaining how technology will redefine society, exploring ways to teach peace, as well as how we can make peace profitable.

Preorder your autographed copy now, get it first, and save 20%!  Click here

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United States of America Aaland Islands Afghanistan Albania Algeria American Samoa Andorra Angola Anguilla Antarctica Antigua And Barbuda Argentina Armenia Aruba Australia Austria Azerbaijan Bahamas Bahrain Bangladesh Barbados Belarus Belgium Belize Benin Bermuda Bhutan Bolivia Bosnia and Herzegovina Botswana Bouvet Island Brazil British Indian Ocean Territory Brunei Darussalam Bulgaria Burkina Faso Burundi Cambodia Cameroon Canada Cape Verde Cayman Islands Central African Republic Chad Chile China Christmas Island Cocos (Keeling) Islands Colombia Comoros Congo Cook Islands Costa Rica Cote D'Ivoire Croatia Cuba Curacao Cyprus Czech Republic Democratic Republic of the Congo Denmark Djibouti Dominica Dominican Republic East Timor Ecuador Egypt El Salvador Equatorial Guinea Eritrea Estonia Ethiopia Falkland Islands Faroe Islands Fiji Finland France French Guiana French Polynesia French Southern Territories Gabon Gambia Georgia Germany Ghana Gibraltar Greece Greenland Grenada Guadeloupe Guam Guatemala Guernsey Guinea Guinea-Bissau Guyana Haiti Heard and Mc Donald Islands Honduras Hong Kong Hungary Iceland India Indonesia Iran Iraq Ireland Isle of Man Israel Italy Jamaica Japan Jersey (Channel Islands) Jordan Kazakhstan Kenya Kiribati Kuwait Kyrgyzstan Lao People's Democratic Republic Latvia Lebanon Lesotho Liberia Libya Liechtenstein Lithuania Luxembourg Macau Macedonia Madagascar Malawi Malaysia Maldives Mali Malta Marshall Islands Martinique Mauritania Mauritius Mayotte Mexico Micronesia, Federated States of Moldova, Republic of Monaco Mongolia Montenegro Montserrat Morocco Mozambique Myanmar Namibia Nauru Nepal Netherlands Netherlands Antilles New Caledonia New Zealand Nicaragua Niger Nigeria Niue Norfolk Island North Korea Northern Mariana Islands Norway Oman Pakistan Palau Palestine Panama Papua New Guinea Paraguay Peru Philippines Pitcairn Poland Portugal Puerto Rico Qatar Republic of Kosovo Reunion Romania Russia Rwanda Saint Kitts and Nevis Saint Lucia Saint Vincent and the Grenadines Samoa (Independent) San Marino Sao Tome and Principe Saudi Arabia Senegal Serbia Seychelles Sierra Leone Singapore Sint Maarten Slovakia Slovenia Solomon Islands Somalia South Africa South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands South Korea South Sudan Spain Sri Lanka St. Helena St. Pierre and Miquelon Sudan Suriname Svalbard and Jan Mayen Islands Swaziland Sweden Switzerland Syria Taiwan Tajikistan Tanzania Thailand Togo Tokelau Tonga Trinidad and Tobago Tunisia Turkey Turkmenistan Turks & Caicos Islands Turks and Caicos Islands Tuvalu Uganda Ukraine United Arab Emirates United Kingdom Uruguay USA Minor Outlying Islands Uzbekistan Vanuatu Vatican City State (Holy See) Venezuela Vietnam Virgin Islands (British) Virgin Islands (U.S.) Wallis and Futuna Islands Western Sahara Yemen Zambia Zimbabwe
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Ravi has finished his new book, PIVOT, due to be released before the end of the year.  Learn all about it here: https://raviunites.com/publications

Other News and Announcements

Ravi is currently available for both in-person and virtual online keynotes.  Click here to learn more about both of these (and see his video specifically on Virtual Keynotes).
https://raviunites.com/keynotes

A number of school districts have inquired about online convocations.  If you are interested in having Ravi deliver your 2020 or 2021 school convocation keynote, please send us a message through our contact page, https://raviunties.com/contact/.

Ravi Unites Schools Update

We had two Realtime Audio-Video Interactions scheduled with Shanti Bhavan in India: one with Bethel Elementary School in Virginia and another with Londonderry Middle School in New Hampshire.  All of these schools are currently closed due to COVID-19 and these interactions will be rescheduled for later in the year.

If you or your organization would like to learn more about becoming a strategic partner of Ravi Unites Schools, please send an email to connect@raviunitesschools.com.  Meanwhile, we will still be setting up interactions as we are able.

The Unseen Benefits of Education at Home

The Unseen Benefits of Education at Home

the unseen benefits of education at home

While we can lament the lack of "normality" of formal education during this COVID-19 pandemic, we might also be missing and overlooking some of the unseen benefits of education that are happening with learning at home. This unique setting provides an opportunity for parents to enhance their children's education at home during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Four Key Educational Opportunities

Balancing Chores with Schoolwork - A Lesson in Time Management

The easy excuse for most kids when it comes to family chores can be "no time, busy with school." However, this is the time to teach that having "no time" is a choice, and time management is a skill.  Domestic tasks like making beds and emptying the dishwasher are great opportunities to teach children time management skills while balancing these chores with schoolwork.

Some psychologists say that children are so stressed right now because of COVID (this article by Reuters says psychologists believe the pandemic to be traumatic to children), so now is not the time to add more to their plate.  I fear that following such advice may be a missed opportunity in the sense that it is not adding more to their plate, but teaching them how to manage their plate.  Balancing schoolwork with chores and other responsibilities is the perfect opportunity for children to learn the critical life skill of time management. One needs to be flexible, but one need not be an enabler of laziness and procrastination.

Family as a Team

It is important to recognize that kids are under greater stress and suffering from a lack of social interaction.  Parents can teach them that they are also not the only ones enduring stress.  Parents are also suffering, so it takes a team, and a family needs to work as a team.

One way to teach children this given that kids are not seeing their friends often, is by asking them, "What if your friend was scared of getting COVID?  What would you tell him or her?"  This is a way to use the current situation to generate and teach empathy by encouraging children to consider scenarios outside of their own feelings and activities.

The family must also utilize interpersonal communication skills to function and exist peacefully in the home while under stay-at-home orders.  Tight spaces and long hours under one roof can cause anxiety and disruption unless conflicts are met head-on and time is taken to learn to resolve these conflicts in a healthy way.

Family engagement in education has increased during this time and presents a great opportunity for students to also connect with family culture.  An article by Axios.com,  Coronavirus Reshapes American Families says, "Enduring hardships together builds stronger connections." The article goes on to say that several families surveyed claim the COVID-19 pandemic made them closer than ever. One family said, "We spend much less time on electronics and more time together.  I think it's a product of schooling the kids from home as well as home becoming the new all-in-one."

Families working together as a team has also given children a new creative edge.  From finding quiet space for study and Zoom meetings to finding ways to exercise at home and perhaps even stand in as a barber or nail technician, the COVID-19 pandemic has influenced creativity in children while at home.

Learning about Parents' Work Life and "The Real World"

Students are also learning vicariously through watching and experiencing what parents are doing and how they handle life and work.  In many cases, students might not have intimately known what a parent really does during the day, but now they listen in on team meetings, client problem-solving, as well as see parents juggle laundry, grocery ordering, and meal preparation.  

This article from the Washington Post addresses the impact parent's work-from-home experience during COVID-19 has had on children:  'Seeing a parent's professional identity — skillfully leading a Zoom meeting, getting treated respectfully by co-workers and being important in the corporate context — can have a profound impact. 'Children are getting glimpses into [their parents'] professional lives right now in a way that we've never seen before, and there's a huge opportunity here for learning, sharing, growth and connectedness — both for kids and for parents,' said Neha Chaudhary, psychiatrist at Harvard Medical School and Massachusetts General Hospital, and co-founder of Brainstorm, the Stanford Lab for Mental Health Innovation.'

Cross-Generational Actions Increase

Parents should not barricade themselves in a home office all day, as the world has grown accustomed to the "new normal" of children interrupting the Zoom meeting…this is not only ok and acceptable, but it helps redefine corporate culture and cross-generational dialogue.  Kids see what mom and dad do and the boss sees what challenges the employee has at home.

It's a form of cultural competence, but there are also cross-generational interactions that tend not to happen as much in schoolIn school, kids spend most of the time with people their own age.  At home, they are spending most of their physical time with people of different ages.  There are great learning opportunities within this.  

In this article titled Children Interrupting Zoom Meetings Could Be the Reboot Corporate Culture Needed by the Guardian, they ask, "What if it took a virus to reboot our workplace cultures and humanize them?  To give our leaders and managers confidence that people can be trusted to deliver without having to put on suits and judged on what time they leave the office?  One of the things virtual meetings do is put us all in each other's homes. We try to look professional from the waist up. But when that two-year-old bursts in the boundaries between the workplace and the domestic space collapse."

RELATED POST: Has Coronavirus infected equity in education? Millennials may be the vaccine!

 

In Conclusion

While not being at school has limited some aspects of formal education, the bigger opportunity for the "school of life" has emerged during this time.  With challenges, changes, and limitations, there is the opportunity to grow in compassion, learn cross-generational skills, and develop greater capacity for empathy. Ultimately, might we look back and say that the chances of a student becoming a lifelong learner who adds value to the world was actually enhanced through this time?

Other News and Announcements

Ravi is currently available for both in-person and virtual online keynotes.  Click here to learn more about both of these (and see his video specifically on Virtual Keynotes).

https://raviunites.com/keynotes

Ravi is putting the finishing touches on his new book, PIVOT, due to be released before the end of the year.  Learn all about it here: https://raviunites.com/publications

A number of school districts have inquired about online convocations.  If you are interested in having Ravi deliver your 2020 or 2021 school convocation keynote, please send us a message through our contact page, https://raviunties.com/contact/.

Ravi Unites Schools Update

We had two Realtime Audio-Video Interactions scheduled with Shanti Bhavan in India: one with Bethel Elementary School in Virginia and another with Londonderry Middle School in New Hampshire.  All of these schools are currently closed due to COVID-19 and these interactions will be rescheduled for later in the year.

If you or your organization would like to learn more about becoming a strategic partner of Ravi Unites Schools, please send an email to connect@raviunitesschools.com.  Meanwhile, we will still be setting up interactions as we are able.

How to Pivot Privilege into Racial Justice

How to Pivot Privilege into Racial Justice

How to Pivot Privilege into Racial Justice

Mainstream media broadcasts, social media posts, and many voices advocating for racial equality often point to white privilege as being complicit in social injustice, especially racism.  In many cases, white privilege is spoken of only in the negative.  However, people are less likely to create real change from feelings of guilt or shame than they are from a place of empowerment.  Privilege does not have to be a bad thing when it is used to empower people to educate themselves and others.  In fact, I think it needs to be seen as a potential power for good.

Pivoting from Guilt and Shame to Bold and Empowered

In the fight against racism, many of those with privilege (be it white or any other form of privilege) are made to feel guilty for having it. This can lead to defensiveness in the form of backlash, or silence and complacency which is equally negative in the fight for social justice.  They may feel powerless and perhaps even disincentivized to say or do anything to make positive change. When one operates from a place of guilt, the potential for embarrassment may weigh more than the risk of failing from a place of power.

According to this article on prospect.org, “Dismantling structural racism does require white people to become more than a little uncomfortable as they both acknowledge and relinquish their power in order to achieve racial progress. But that enlightenment needs to lead to action, not just deeper reflection. Otherwise, it becomes part of the problem.”

I believe that operating from guilt is often analogous to treating an infection with an antibiotic: if you take only enough to make the symptoms subside, the infection will likely come back even stronger. The Blackout Tuesday movement could possibly be viewed as an example of operating out of guilt or shame.  Blackout Tuesday took place June 2nd, 2020 in which participants posted a black box on their social accounts with the hashtag #BlackoutTuesday.  A scroll through your social feeds on this day showcased a sea of black boxes and a quick search of the hashtag #BlackoutTuesday returns more of the same.  But does this show of solidarity do anything to help rectify racial injustice in America? According to Forbes, it does not:

“Before you participate in Blackout Tuesday, keep this in mind: It’s not working.  The images and hashtags are causing communication issues between peaceful protesters and activists, according to social media experts.  A recent report noted how the disruption could actually cause more harm than good.”

The article goes on to say, “The real answer is to inform and educate-to keep the channels open wide and sound the alarms as clearly as possible.”

As I tell my audiences, privilege is a tool in the toolbox of a percentage of any population.  Rather than instill guilt and shame, why not motivate and mobilize those with this tool to use it for good--to pivot privilege into social responsibility? It is not enough to post a black box with the appropriate hashtag, nor is it enough to march in protest. We must pivot our privilege and stand up for anti-racism which entails taking real actions and educating ourselves and others on social injustice. I believe that we should all begin with some self introspection including implicit bias training.

Anti-racism activist Peggy McIntosh famously wrote White Privilege: Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack in 1988, defining the “invisible” privileges of White America.  How can we use this privilege and its associated power in the good fight of racial inequality?

As the Forbes article mentioned, education is key.

Education as Centerpiece of Potential

The best place to foster this is in public schools, as there is no stronger force than education to defeat social injustice and solve the world’s most significant problems.

In this article published by educationpost.org titled, “Here’s What I Wish White Teachers Knew When Teaching My Black Children,” writer and educator Afrika Afeni Mills addresses the gaps in text books and classroom conversations regarding Black history.

She says, “In high school, college and your teacher prep program, you no doubt were taught something about race in America, but it is highly unlikely that you learned the truth about the Black experience. It is likely, for instance, that you’ve been taught little to nothing about the pre-enslavement contributions of Black people to the world, the horrors and impact of centuries of enslavement, post ‘Emancipation’ Jim Crow laws and practices and the many ongoing racially based systemic injustices such as mass incarceration, housing discrimination, wealth disparities and lack of equal access to quality education, health care and more.”

Public schools would serve their students well to incorporate learning materials that provide a full spectrum education on Black history and the Black experience.  Education is the key to the social injustice crisis.

The Use of Privilege by Icons of Social Justice

I often tell my audiences, “True leadership is elevating those below you to rise above you.” This is true now as much as it ever has been, but history gives us some great examples. 

Mahatma Gandhi
Gandhi’s prophecy of peace and non-violence continues to impact our world today, over 150 years after his birth.  According to this article by the Huffington Post, “Above all, Mahatma believed in the power of dialogue.”

Nelson Mandela
Nelson Mandela once said, “Education is the most powerful weapon you can use to change the world.”  According to this article by Global Citizen, “Not only did Mandela liberate an entire country from the grips of the racist apartheid system, but he also continued the fight for the world’s most vulnerable people until the very end of his life.”

Mother Theresa
In 1946, Mother Theresa received the call on her life to take to the slums of Calcutta India to tend to the sick and poor.  She is often referred to as “the nun who became a saint,” as she was canonized as Saint Theresa.  She founded the Missionaries of Charity, an organization devoted to her cause of tending the sick and poor around the world.

Martin Luther King Jr.
Known for leading the civil rights movement from 1955 until his assassination in 1968, Martin Luther King Jr. advanced the movement through non-violence and civil disobedience, inspired by the non-violent actions of Mahatma Gandhi.  This article by the Washington Post discusses the similarities between protest tactics used after the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr. and the recent death of George Floyd and what has-and hasn’t-changed in that 52-year timespan.

The Need for Cultural Competency

RELATED POST: Has Coronavirus infected equity in education? Millennials may be the vaccine!

In this previous post, I explain how educators can teach cultural competency.  Educators can help those with privilege understand it and encourage them to think about how they can use it for the good of social justice. The arts and music can be a key way of building bridges between cultures.  In my article The Power of the Arts in School to Foster Peace, I explain how the arts can also be instrumental in helping students find unity and cultivating empathy for other cultures.

As the fight for social justice wages forth, let us actualize the power of our privilege and use that power to educate ourselves and our children to bring forth a better tomorrow.

 

Ravi Unites Schools Update

We had two Realtime Audio-Video Interactions scheduled with Shanti Bhavan in India: one with Bethel Elementary School in Virginia and another with Londonderry Middle School in New Hampshire.  All of these schools are currently closed due to COVID-19 and these interactions will be rescheduled for later in the year.

If you or your organization would like to learn more about becoming a strategic partner of Ravi Unites Schools, please send an email to connect@raviunitesschools.com.  Meanwhile, we will still be setting up interactions as we are able.

Other News and Announcements

Be sure to check out Ravi's daily "Minute to Pivot" video series. You can subscribe to it on his YouTube channel by clicking here, or visit any one of his social media pages @RaviUnites.

Ravi recently gave a keynote to the Virginia ASCD association at their annual conference.  It was very well received and he followed that up with a school convocation at Gloucester Virginia public schools.

A number of school districts have inquired about online convocations.  If you are interested in having Ravi deliver your 2020 or 2021 school convocation keynote, please send us a message through our contact page, https://raviunties.com/contact/.

Six Challenges for Schools Once Students Return

Six Challenges for Schools Once Students Return

Will you be ready this fall when students return (hopefully)?  Schools have been in crisis mode for the past 6-8 weeks due to COVID-19 Coronavirus and consequential closings.  While educators have been focused on transitioning to online learning to save the semester, it may be time to accept that the gaps probably cannot be narrowed enough while students are still learning from home.  Pivoting the focus from this school year to next might be the best chance to level the field.  

There are many challenges that schools will have to overcome, but I’d like to focus on six... Each will be critical and solutions must be ready to implement--the virus gave educators no time to pivot, but there is now time to plan for recovery.  

1. Supporting Educational Staff 

In this USA Today article, a picture of what life in the classroom will look like when schools reopen comes into focus.  It includes many things that you might imagine such as hand-washing, routine sanitizing of surfaces, social distancing, and more. 

The ramifications of social distancing, however, extend beyond simply greater distance and spacing in the classroom (not to mention cafeterias and school buses).  This could mean smaller class sizes but with the same number of students to educate.  Due to this, schools will need more teachers and staff in order to be able to teach smaller groups of students together.  

The article quotes Jake Bryant, a former teacher and associate partner at the global consultancy firm McKinsey & Company.  He says, “I don’t believe reopening will be a linear path to normalcy.”  McKinsey & Company released a report with ideas for schools to consider as they plan to reopen:

“U.S. schools could consider bringing back vulnerable students first for more one-on-one help, or scheduling more days of in-person instruction for them.  Students with disabilities, or those whose families rely on schools for food or other assistance, could attend in-person three days a week, while more highly resourced students with access to technology at home could attend two days a week.”  

Bryant goes on to say schools will have to get better at remote learning, whether because of another virus outbreak, a need to quarantine infected students, or because school days need to be split up to create more space in the classrooms. 

All of this means that administrators will need to prepare their staff more than ever by investing in their schools’ team to help prepare, supporting them throughout, and empowering them in the post-Coronavirus classroom.  This means an investment in new teacher orientation, continuing education, technology education and practice, as well as in self-care and student care with the newly added stresses of health safety. All these together will demand new and greater skills from the education team and schools must prepare to resource and support their staff in this new environment.  Moreover, it might have to occur as teacher turnover rises and budgets fall.

2. Remedial Education 

In an effort to continue delivering education to students at home while “sheltering in place,” one unintended consequence has been the obvious gap widening into a chasm between socioeconomic sectors of the student body.  

In essence, technology has widened the learning gap due to issues including access to high-speed internet and in some cases a lack of computers and tech devices, or technical inexperience of parents and students at home (not to mention many teachers who are educating online for the first time).  This has resulted in a segment of students who will have failed to progress at the same rate as their peers.   

In this article by Brookings Institution, they note that, “The worst kind of learning is to sit passively and listen, and this may be the form that most students will receive during school closures.  It serves no one well, especially those who are the furthest behind.”  A student struggling with the material being taught and then also struggling with eLearning methods has an additional barrier that ultimately results in less mastery of material while others move forward.

School leaders must plan for new levels of remedial education that will be needed.  Early assessments will be important to identify where to place students.  

3. Technology Buy-in

While the technology has not only been challenging for parents in terms of helping children access the necessary materials and content, students have also had different experiences with technology during these months at home.  For example, time spent on games like Fortnite increased (CNET.com) and if students had less than invigorating online classroom experiences, there can be a disinterest and lack of buy-in for school technology from students.  It’s difficult for elearning to compete with games like Fortnite, but the reality is it does.

 

RELATED POST: Can Time Spent Playing Online Games Help Teens Develop Cultural Competency?

 

In a post-Coronavirus world, the partnership between parents and teachers will need to increase, making family engagement a key task and opportunity for administrators and educators to ensure that elearning is respected.

Teachers may also need to “up their game” with the digital side of teaching and find helpful technology that deeply engages students and stimulates their interest much like games do.

But make no mistake, increased technology should not result in decreased confidence-building human interaction, such as simple positive reinforcement. Teachers who voluntarily reinforce positive learning with their students will get greater results when the work is turned in digitally.

4. Remediation for ESL Students

Along with what was already mentioned in point #2 above, remediation for ESL students (English as a Second Language) is an important and unique item to address within schools.  This may also prove to be especially challenging.  

A large percentage of K-12 students in the US do not speak English at home and now having lacked daily exposure to classes and friends in an English context, they may be especially far behind. 

This article by ednc.org interviews Joan Lachance, associate professor of education and program director for UNC Charlotte’s Teaching English as a Second Language Programs.  She says, “From a language development perspective and even from a brain development perspective, we know that language development is a social construct and kids need to sit with each other and have lots and lots of peer interaction.”

The article also mentions the reliance ESL students have on body language in the classroom to communicate with their teacher and other students, something non-transmissible over the internet.

This gap means that these students will need special attention and instruction with a focus on English language learning (or relearning) and potentially the need to repeat material that was assigned during the stay-at-home period in order to ensure mastery of it.

While some ESL students need to go back and focus on English basics and the material that was taught previously, other students have moved on.  This will require special attention by school staff and a plan to tackle this important issue of remediation for ESL students.

5. Data Gap

The lack of data from test results due to the cancelling of assessments makes the task of teachers and administrators even harder in the new school year.  With the areas noted above having an impact on learning that was accomplished, a new plan for testing and retesting may need to happen to monitor progress. 

In fact, our whole approach to placement in a particular grade level and personalized education in general may have shifted dramatically, or will need to.

This article by the National Conference of State Legislatures states several schools have altered their admissions policies, making the ACT and SAT optional for college admission in lieu of cancelled testing. While this may be helpful in some cases for students wanting to enroll in college, at the K-12 level the data gap is a significant concern as teachers relied on this to assess student readiness to move on to other material and to ensure a baseline mastery of core material.  Without assessment data, will the subjective assessment of teachers be accurate enough to ensure students are ready to proceed?  Or, will more and more frequent testing need to be done to evaluate progress and fill the data gap? 

How a school system decides to work at this data gap issue needs to be determined soon so that a plan can begin to be put in place this summer prior to the start of the new school year.

6. Experiential Learning Pivot

As I wrote about in last month’s blog post, the primary pivot schools will need to make is to create experiential learning opportunities to ensure the most complete education and best prepare students for today’s work environment.  Much of this must happen through arts programs because the arts directly impacts the social-emotional well-being of every child.  This cannot be understated, and even though I am a strong music education advocate, we should revisit the important elements of home economics including the culinary arts.  For so many reasons (five, to be exact...read linked-post below), the culinary arts contributes to social skills, social-emotional learning, cultural competence, and so much more.

RELATED POST: Increasing Cultural Competency through Multi-sensory Culinary Experiences

 

Knowledge delivery can and should continue to have significant digital elements to it even once students are all back in school, but in a hybrid context that also involves creating experiences in and through school (including extra-curricular) to deepen that knowledge.  There must be a focus on equity in terms of access to technology, and if this cannot be guaranteed in the home, it has to be primarily offered in the classroom.

The big question is, how will educators best implement experiential and collaborative learning if we are still social distancing?  Technology can have a positive role in that too, as social media has proven. 

A Final Note

We must focus on four of the many c’s discussed in education: curiosity, communication, compassion, and critical thinking in new and creative ways.  The challenge for schools will be to not overlook these key items while dealing with the front-burner issues that the COVID-19 pandemic created.

Click below for a specialty curated checklist for teachers, administrators, and parents (extrapolating the most important parts of this post on how to prepare for back to school in a post covid world. 

 

Ravi Unites Schools Update

We had two Realtime Audio-Video Interactions scheduled with Shanti Bhavan in India: one with Bethel Elementary School in Virginia and another with Londonderry Middle School in New Hampshire.  All of these schools are currently closed due to COVID-19 and these interactions will be rescheduled for later in the year.

If you or your organization would like to learn more about becoming a strategic partner of Ravi Unites Schools, please send an email to connect@raviunitesschools.com.  Meanwhile, we will still be setting up interactions as we are able.

Other News and Announcements

Be sure to check out Ravi's daily "Minute to Pivot" video series. You can subscribe to it on his YouTube channel by clicking here, or visit any one of his social media pages @RaviUnites.

Ravi recently gave a keynote to the Virginia ASCD association at their annual conference.  It was very well received and he followed that up with a school convocation at Gloucester Virginia public schools.

A number of school districts have inquired about online convocations.  If you are interested in having Ravi deliver your 2020 or 2021 school convocation keynote, please send us a message through our contact page, https://raviunties.com/contact/.

Has Coronavirus Infected Equity in Education? Millennials May Be the Vaccine?

Has Coronavirus Infected Equity in Education? Millennials May Be the Vaccine?

equity in education

The need to move education online without notice due to COVID-19 has made the distance between the haves and have nots more apparent.  Online access, network neutrality, and the ability to natively navigate the Internet are increasing socioeconomic disparity when it could, and ought to, be doing the exact opposite. 

As we look ahead to transitioning back into classrooms, a hybrid system of education incorporating digital and experiential learning is more critical than ever--not to mention that for many, “back to school” also means being able to have nutritious meals daily.  

I believe that the nation that does the above most successfully will emerge as a global superpower. Perhaps not immediately, but almost certainly once today’s students become tomorrow’s leaders. 

Incoming teachers and administrators are millennials who today excel over previous generations in two critical areas: integration of technology and advocacy for social justice.  Could they be the key to designing a truly 21st century education system with equity in education?

Millennials’ Transparency (and Dependency) with Technology

According to this article by Forbes, technology empowers millennials to change the world. The workforce is transforming fast and so are the needs of today’s high-potential employees. In this era of quickly changing technology, it is important to understand how technology has become an integral part of millennials’ goals to impact and change the world.”

While millennials are often depicted as lazy and non-committal, a Gallup poll mentioned in this Forbes article reveals that 87 percent value personal and professional growth, and they believe technology helps them achieve that.  The article goes on to say that millennials who feel their company offers an outlet to achieve personal and professional growth tend to remain loyal to their employer. 

It also notes that millennials crave feedback and communication and therefore request tech tools like instant messaging and group chat platforms from their employers.  This is another way they believe technology helps them shine in their careers. 

Their Proclivity for Social Justice

A recent article by Fast Company states, “Millennials are also optimistic, with 86% believing their actions can impact the world.” Platforms such as Facebook, Change.org, and Crowdfunding.com make it easy for millennials to feel like they can ignite change. Simple, everyday habits such as sharing viral Facebook posts, voting, signing online petitions, and using their dollars to support socially-conscious brands all add up to significant change across the global landscape over time. 

In the article, Fast Company mentions that one of the areas of concern most affecting millennials and inspiring them to invoke change is educational access.   This makes them a likely party to the solution of closing the digital gap in the educational space. 

The Need for Education to be a Hybrid System

According to the World Economic Forum, the shutdown of schools caused by the COVID-19 pandemic is changing the way students are educated around the globe, for better or worse. The article goes on to say that while the shutdown of schools has been “a catalyst for educational systems worldwide to search for innovative solutions in a relatively short period of time,” it will also widen the digital divide and equality gap.   

As we look forward into the future of education, traditional in-person lectures in the classroom will be complemented by digital learning tools such as live broadcasts and virtual reality experiences, allowing learning to be an “anytime anywhere” experience. 

But with digital innovations improving the educational system, what is to become of those left behind?  According to The World Economic Forum, 60% of the globe’s population is offline.  “Moreover, the less affluent and digitally savvy individual families are, the further their students are left behind. When classes transition online, these children lose out because of the cost of digital devices and data plans. “

Capacity must be built into our educational systems in order to shrink the digital gap.  If there’s anything we can learn about education during the COVID-19 pandemic, it is this.  The World Economic Forum article goes on to say, "Unless access costs decrease and quality of access increase in all countries, the gap in education quality, and thus socioeconomic equality will be further exacerbated. The digital divide could become more extreme if educational access is dictated by access to the latest technologies."

Final Note

With millennials attuned to technology and current social issues, will they be the "vaccine" needed to create a hybrid format in the wake of the COVID-19 education system "infection?"  They have the natural inclination for technology, the belief in their capacity to make a difference, and a leaning toward helping others. With that, will we let them invoke change to make digital learning more accessible to the less fortunate so that all students have the advantage of a hybrid education? Perhaps it is time to give them more space and room to lead.

We may find out sooner than later.

Let Me Help You Pivot Now

As a futurist who specializes in education, I can help you and your organization make the transition.  I have two keynotes that specifically address the above issues, each with a different emphasis but can also be combined: 

  • Reimagining Education to Create the Future We Need
  • Millennial Mojo, Building Tomorrow with Today’s Most Influential Generation.

Please learn more about my Keynotes by clicking below and let’s get the conversations started...your students deserve it!

 

Ravi Unites Schools Update

We had two Realtime Audio-Video Interactions scheduled with Shanti Bhavan in India: one with Bethel Elementary School in Virginia and another with Londonderry Middle School in New Hampshire.  All of these schools are currently closed due to COVID-19 and these interactions will be rescheduled for later in the year.

If you or your organization would like to learn more about becoming a strategic partner of Ravi Unites Schools, please send an email to connect@raviunitesschools.com.  Meanwhile, we will still be setting up interactions as we are able.

Other News and Announcements

Be sure to check out Ravi's daily "Minute to Pivot" video series. You can subscribe to it on his YouTube channel by clicking here, or visit any one of his social media pages @RaviUnites.

Ravi recently gave a keynote to the Virginia ASCD association at their annual conference.  It was very well received and he followed that up with a school convocation at Gloucester Virginia public schools.

A number of school districts have inquired about online convocations.  If you are interested in having Ravi deliver your 2020 or 2021 school convocation keynote, please send us a message through our contact page, https://raviunties.com/contact/.