Previously, our educational system focused on a narrow range of children’s cognitive development, with an emphasis on imparting content knowledge, often to be memorized and repeated as it was received. Lessons in math, science and reading – and tests in those skills – dominated the curriculum.
Recently, we experienced a development in our education system, bringing an international curriculum and examination system that is connected across the world with its global recognition. The Cambridge based curriculum is comprehensive as it is prepared as per the needs of modern times by international educationists in order to enhance students’ hidden abilities. However, only the curricular discipline does not offer the development of an integral personality.
Children need to be exposed to more inclusive education in order to grow and learn in their relationships, identity, emotional understanding and overall well-being. After all, children are multidimensional “whole” beings whose development is complex and just focusing on developing them as more skilled personalities to earn maximum capital selfishly undermines their hidden potential to become more interactive, responsible and joyful personalities.
Inclusive education is based on a blend of curricular and extracurricular wisdom that nurtures a human ideal of enrichment in our material lives so that we can have seemingly successful and good lives, but barely contribute to the core values that build the kinds of communities that benefit us all. These values are social care, responsibility and mutual growth achieved through responsible living.
Now, in the way we educate, we learn the skills, abilities and knowledge that are needed to increase our ability to do things successfully, which also increases our ability to live a successful life governed by the ideal of technological and material progress. We need these skills in a practical way to live and benefit humanity; problems arise when we acquire these skills only in a drive to achieve personal recognition and individual success.
The emphasis on merely personal development through academic education has a very limited impact on the growth of a whole personality. It promotes competition, the opposite of egalitarian collaboration, and it also promotes close group identity, such as class distinction, the opposite of connectedness and responsibility for all. While in today’s classroom, lessons may preach tolerance and civic spirit, the actual way in which daily life goes on does not promote an equal sense of responsibility for all. Understanding in academic classes remains superficial and purely intellectual if it is not practiced through mutual participation in extracurricular activities based on inclusive education. Students need to deepen and imprint this understanding with their learning and practical implementation to achieve social harmony, responsibility, peace and environmental conservation.
Inclusive Education to Nurture Life
Inclusive education is not just about what we study in schools and universities. Education is also not just about increasing your position and your pay scale. True education consists in developing knowledge and wisdom to nurture life besides economic growth.
Our traditional academic education is familiar with theories and skills. However, we have insufficient information about the practical application of these principles and skills. While we all know the importance and breadth of real-world application and challenges, we cannot adequately apply our educational knowledge to the practical world. A person who does not acquire enough knowledge about himself and her/his inner vocation/passion will not be able to approach the education that is really suitable for her/him and will not be able to connect his thinking with the outside world.
Inclusive education plays a very important role in all aspects of our lives. A person who understands the practical applicability of education is successful in her/his life. Being a student, just shredding textual things and getting good grades is not important. The important thing is to understand how this will make our life beautiful for us and for everyone around us. That’s why an educated mind and a good heart combine to create revolutionary changes in society.
Real education is focused on the development of a “whole child”. Recent research in neuroscience, developmental and learning sciences, education, sociology and many other fields confirm that a “whole child” approach is not only desirable, but necessary to ensure that children learn well. According to two comprehensive science reviews of children’s development and learning:
- Brain development is shaped by consistent and supportive relationships; responsive communications; and modeling productive behaviors. The brain’s capacity develops most fully when children and young people feel emotionally and physically safe; and when they feel connected, engaged and challenged.
- Learning is social, emotional and academic. Positive relationships, including trust in the teacher, and positive emotions, such as interest and excitement, open the mind to learning. Negative emotions such as fear of failure, anxiety, and self-doubt reduce the brain’s ability to process information and learn. Children can develop skills and awareness to work with emotions in themselves and in their relationships.
GLA in delivering Modern Inclusive Education through Extra-Curricular Activities
According to modern research on personality development, students need to get an inclusive education that connects them with society and gives them the ability to think as part of the whole fabric of nature and humanity. As part of the global system of inclusive education and a partner of the United Nations Environment Programme, Clean Up the World and the World Kindness Movement, Green Living Association synthesized these scientific findings to identify how to incorporate inclusive education into our research based creative activities focused on educating the whole family.
Green Living Association (GLA) is a non-governmental, non-profit and not-for-funding (self-relined) organization working to expand Inclusive Education. GLA is part of Green Living initiatives worldwide and partner of Cleanup the World, United Nations Environmental Programme (UNEP) and World Kindness Movement.
The focus of our campaigns and activities is to inspire the inner human potential to efficiently contribute to the achievement of the UN Sustainable Goals, in order to make a responsible, sustainable and environment-friendly society. Green Living Association offers modern inclusive education on issues of peace, kindness and environmental conservation, especially for school students and, in general, for all segments of society, organizing innovative, colorful and interactive activities. Our campaigns and activities aim at inspiring every member of society to contribute their part in the process of social harmony, responsible and environmentally friendly living.
We give each Green Ambassador (student participating in the activity) the status of a winner, offering at least one recognition. Participants are encouraged to bring worksheets home to work in association with their families to learn in groups and win lucrative prizes such as field trips, cash prizes, laptops, gold, silver and bronze medals and Green Ambassador Insignias.
How to implement meaningful, engaging and instructional Green Living practices to develop students into complete personalities
In focus groups and interviews with high school dropouts in 25 urban, suburban and rural communities, nearly half (47 percent) said the main reason for dropping out was that classroom education was not interesting. These young people reported being bored and disconnected from high school. Even among those who stayed in school, 81% said there should be more opportunities for interactive study and real-world learning.
Students crave opportunities to learn things that matter and are relevant to their lives. Extracurricular activities focused on inclusive education help students grow in their understanding when they build on students’ prior experience and learning scaffolding, meeting them where they are. For example, teachers can connect subjects in the Green Living guidebooks to common tasks that students are involved in to use that knowledge, such as in workshops, artwork, sports, and other settings. Or they could connect a story unit on environmental degradation to modern issues like climate change, global warming or rising sea levels.
When skillfully combined with direct instruction, inquiry-based learning driven by students’ interests boosts their motivation and develops real-world skills. In a high school class in Oakland, for example, students decided to study how environmental pollution affects the ocean and then created a campaign to reduce waste and litter and increase recycling at their school. These projects teach valuable collaboration, problem-solving, and organizing skills and have a tangible impact.
Assessments that include appreciation and opportunities to do additional study help students learn how to acquire and encourage an intrinsic desire to understand the material and challenge themselves beyond just grading. This type of “mastery-oriented approach” is associated with more meaningful learning. For example, worksheet questions cultivate student inquiry and review skills through hands-on projects – which give students the opportunity to learn in depth about an issue that is important to them and often work to create change in their own lives in a community. These projects are generally reviewed to meet a high standard of investigation and developed by expert panels with local and international affiliates.
Far from being boring, effective instructional strategies connect learning to students’ families, friends and teachers and empower them to use their knowledge for the benefit of themselves and others. Green Living Association (GLA) developed a creative idea of involving the whole family in the process of achieving inclusive education, which has become the most successful way to educate the elders through children. Participation gives participants the opportunity to learn about social responsibility, learning about sustainability and contributing positively in practical life. Developing this sense of responsibility encourages us to save our societies and environment for the wider benefits of the entire nation and all of humanity. Since winners are made based on group activity; therefore, winners may be those who are unlikely to win a prize in formal school education.
A prominent research-based feature of GLA educational activities is the ‘association’ by which each student must associate with their 4-5 family members and work collectively with them on the given environmental tasks. This research-based creative method has proven highly successful in saving students’ academic time and, along with other innovative features, has helped the GLA to be one of the most influential organizations delivering inclusive education.
Green Living Association is successfully striving to develop an environment-friendly society. Our hands-on environmental campaigns have facilitated hundreds of thousands of students and their families to bring environment-friendly developments into their lives. Under its research-based activities imparting inclusive education, Green Living Association (GLA) is successfully contributing towards achieving the UN Sustainable Development Goals in Pakistan.
We are specifically focusing the Goal 3: Good Health and Well-Being, Goal 4: Quality Education, Goal 5: Gender Equality, Goal 6: Clean Water and Sanitation, Goal 7: Affordable and Clean Energy, Goal 8: Decent Work and Economic Growth, Goal 11: Sustainable Cities and Communities, Goal 12: Responsible Production and Consumption, Goal 13: Climate Action, Goal 14: Life Below Water, Goal 15: Life on Land and GOAL 17: Partnerships for the Goals.
The GLA is successfully achieving the defined objectives of Environmental Education with the active and heartfelt participation of the Green Partner Schools in our green projects and activities. We should be proud of our achievements in environmental education to date and the dedication goes to our partner green schools and their campuses for their commendable spirit in developing a responsible, mature and environment-friendly Pakistani nation.
Under a methodical plan of action, the GLA successfully achieved the objectives of its three five-yearly campaigns – ‘Kids’ Action to Restore the Environment’ (KARE 2007-11), ‘Collective Action to Restore the Environment’ (CARE 2012 -16) and ‘Collective Action to Address Climate Change’ (CATCH 2107-21). The upcoming “My Green Homeland” activity is part of our fourth five-yearly “My Green Vision” campaign, which is proving to be highly successful in achieving our planned educational goals.
During our previous ‘CATCH’ practical campaign, Green Living Association successfully achieved its goal of increasing the number of associated Green Families from around 200,000 in 2021 to over 250,000 in the first quarter of 2023. Our next goal is to extend the group of Green Families in Pakistan from 250,000 to 400,000 by the first quarter of 2024.
My Green Homeland – the Forthcoming Activity
Green Living Association is going to organize this year’s highly innovative and results-oriented activity ‘My Green Homeland’ in September, with the aim of motivating participants to contribute their part to bring about environment-friendly developments in our respective communities, making our entire homeland sustainable. This will be an excellent opportunity for students and their families to get involved in the process of achieving inclusive education as an alternative to the negative and harmful activities present in society.
In addition to regular features such as exclusive prizes and recognition for students, this time we are offering special participation packages for campuses and exclusive recognition for campus administrators, especially activity heads and coordinators with opportunities to become GLA Green Ambassadors to learn and contribute more in delivering inclusive education and earning global recognition.
We are proud of our mutual green partnership and look forward to keeping it alive by bringing inclusive education to our society.
Drivers of human development: How relationships and context shape learning and development1
Drivers of human development: How relationships and context shape learning and development1