All Posts By

Samantha Fisher

Creativity is key

Studies show that creativity will be one of the top three most important skills for workers by 2020

The World Economic Forum has predicted that creativity will be one of the most important skills for workers by 2020. This is a result of the rise of automation which will affect many job sectors, but will likely not have such an impact on creative jobs. Indeed, creativity is a skill which programmers are struggling to instil into Artificial Intelligence, and so will help safeguard jobs in these industries.

But are schools promoting creativity in children? The education system is constantly criticised for being too rigid, with educationalist Sir Ken Robinson even going so far as to say they were “killing creativity”. He describes, “Schools are still pretty much organized on factory lines — ringing bells, separate facilities, specialized into separate subjects. We still educate children by batches.”

Since traditional education often cannot offer children with a creative outlet, the Wonder Why Society aims to fill this gap. We want to promote children’s creative endeavours by providing them a safe place to explore their own interests on our online learning platform. Children can learn, but on their own terms, and about the things they are interested in. The goal is that children will be inspired without the interference of parents or teachers. It provides the perfect space for creativity and imagination to flourish, but still within a school-based environment.

We are also hoping to publish our educational children’s book series with this same aim of promoting creativity. The series follows the adventures of The Wonder Why Society- a group of kids determined to uncover the answers to life’s difficult questions. The characters learn about the world around them through their adventures, which we hope will inspire children to try and make their own discoveries about the world. Our mission is to establish a lifelong creativity and passion in children, where learning is regarded as more than reciting facts from a textbook.

 

The automation revolution and the rise of the creative economy

Sir Ken Robinson on Creativity and Changing Educational Paradigms

The Importance of Teaching STEM

Teaching STEM has never been more important.

Recent studies suggest that 9 out of 10 businesses in STEM fields struggled to find suitably qualified employees in the last 12 months, and on average, there are 10 unfilled roles per business. Likewise, Tencent reported that there are currently only 300,000 AI researchers and practitioners in the world- despite there being a demand for millions.

Given this global shortage of skills, it is vital that the current generation of students are encouraged to explore STEM. Indeed, this is especially important for children, with research by King’s College London finding that “most young people’s science aspirations and views of science are formed during the primary years and solidified by the age of 14.” Therefore, if we want to cultivate a passion for STEM in society, then we need to start with children. I believe in order to do this, we need to look further than traditional classroom-based learning.

This is where The Wonder Why Society comes in. Our online learning platform provides children with the opportunity to explore STEM based subjects, but on their own terms, so they can learn about the things that specifically interest them. Here, children can ask questions, discover answers, and collaborate with other children who share their interests. However, we also hope The Wonder Why Society provides a place where children can learn in safe environment, but one that is removed from parents and teachers. In this way, we want children to learn through their own initiative, rather than viewing learning as a chore or something they are ‘forced’ to do. Furthermore, a unique feature of the platform is the way in which children can connect with industry experts. Indeed, one of our most exciting connections is with Birmingham airport, where children interested in STEM subjects could, for example, speak with an aircraft engineer.

We have also recently established the educational children’s book series – Wonder Books. The series follows the adventures of The Wonder Why Society – a group of kids determined to uncover the answers to life’s difficult questions. The first book in the series is called ‘Project Grabbity’, and follows a STEM theme, in which children learn about the inner workings of gravity. Whilst we want our storybook to answer children’s questions about gravity, we also hope it inspires them to ask further questions about the world at large. With this, we want children to view STEM more like an adventure- an exploration of the world around them, rather than a chore.

If you want to find out more about our learning platform, then please visit the ‘learn more’ page of our website www.thewonderwhysociety.co.uk.

 

https://www.stem.org.uk/news-and-views/news/skills-shortage-costing-stem-sector-15bn

https://www.idtech.com/blog/why-is-stem-important

https://www.forbes.com/sites/forbestechcouncil/2018/06/20/insights-into-early-stem-learning/#7b3886116992)

Inspiring Creativity Through Art

At The Wonder Why Society, our most important aim is to inspire children.

This takes on many different forms, but with our educational book series, we particularly want to inspire creativity in kids. Creativity is a vital skill, and one that should be encouraged during childhood, but is often overlooked by the education system. Therefore, we want our series to promote creativity and help kids unleash their imagination. As a result, art and illustration plays an integral part of the series.

Our first storybook, ‘Project Grabbity’, follows the adventures of a group of children determined to uncover the answers to life’s difficult questions. Rather than simply reading the words off a page, we take inspiration from visual learning, so each page features striking illustrations. The emphasis placed on art and illustrations throughout the story is part of what makes our series so compelling. When children hold the book in their hands, we want them to feel part of the adventure. Indeed, we hope that our book will encourage children to pursue their own creative endeavours, whether this be through drawing or even writing.

The positive benefits of art on the mind cannot be understated. Renee Phillips, founder of ‘The Healing Power of Art & Artists’ explains, “research has proven the arts… produce a broad spectrum of benefits ranging from fine motor skills to creativity and improved emotional balance.” She further describes how the arts can lead to improved academic performance, in addition to helping those suffering from depression and other mental health problems. Consequently, if we introduce children to art at young age, then hopefully we can instil a lifelong appreciation of it. An interest in art may not just be of benefit academically, but may also become a valuable tool to help children cope with any difficulties later in life. Therefore, we hope our series can act as an important first step to a wider appreciation of the arts.

 

https://www.healing-power-of-art.org/art-and-the-brain/

Can we teach motivation to children?

Can we teach motivation to children?

Studies show that motivation in children is a crucial indicator of future success- but is motivation something that can be instilled in children?

The Fullerton Longitudinal Study examines the lives of gifted children, but takes a more unusual approach to how it defines “gifted”. Rather than simply looking at IQ, the study places an equal emphasis on “motivational giftedness”- meaning children who are exceptionally motivated. The study found that motivationally gifted children had higher academic achievement than their peers, and “were more likely to… enrol in 4-year colleges directly out of high school, obtain college degrees, and be enrolled in graduate school at age 24.” Adele Gottfried, who runs the study alongside her husband, told Quartz that “[Motivation] in itself is accounting for a certain amount of variance in achievement that goes above and beyond IQ.” Therefore, being extremely motivated as a child may be a greater signpost for success than even IQ.

Significantly, Gottfried suggests that motivation is a skill that can be cultivated, rather than something that is completely innate. Speaking with Quartz, she advises that curiosity and a passion for learning is a crucial way in way in which children can develop their motivation. As Gottfried says, “Everybody could potentially be motivationally gifted.”

Instilling this curiosity is the basis of The Wonder Why Society. Here, we want children to ask questions about the world, and guide them so they can uncover answers. Our free online learning platform provides the perfect opportunity for this. Children can uncover answers to their questions, be inspired and engage in debates- but in a fully moderated, safe environment. The Wonder Why Society has also established the Wonder Book series that aims to answer children’s difficult questions, but recognises the importance of doing this in a fun and compelling way. Indeed, our books may provide answers, but they also open up the door to more questions and more discoveries. Through this, we hope to instil a curiosity in children that will carry them not only through their academic career, but through their life. Indeed, our goal is to lead a generation of motivated children with a passion for learning.

If you would like to learn more about our Wonder Book series, then please check out our Kickstarter – https://kck.st/2uyTx5p . The first book of the series, Project Grabbity, is available to purchase now.

https://files.eric.ed.gov/fulltext/EJ746291.pdf

https://qz.com/1160024/highly-motivated-kids-have-a-greater-advantage-in-life-than-kids-with-a-high-iq/

The slowly decreasing level of reading ability and how we can help

A recent study has shown that many GCSE pupils have the reading level of a 13-year-old, or potentially younger.

The study conducted on almost one million pupils across the UK has also shown that the difference between reading age and physical age gets worse year after year.
According to Keith Topping, Professor of Education and Social Research at the University of Dundee, the level that children are required to read at each year increases, however, the standard at which they are able to read decreases. Professor Topping, concludes that “With this in mind, teachers could encourage them [children] to talk more openly about what they are reading, and make appropriate suggestions to their classmates… If children are not practicing reading at a high enough level, they are likely to have difficulty understanding examination questions”.

This decline in ability to read causes difficulty at GCSE level, particularly during exams, so, what can be done to help aide this complex situation?
Research has shown that when children write online, with purpose and for an audience, their level of attainment and ability in literacy increases massively. This is how The Wonder Why Society can contribute to fixing this issue: children are given a safe, moderated place to discuss topics that are close to their own heart, and show off their work. We want children to feel proud of the stories that they write, the things that they learn and the research that they do, and to be able to display it to peers, teachers and parents online.

Not only this, but the idea that their work may be seen by their peers also helps them to strive to improve their reading and writing.
Why not see if it will work for you and your students?

Plugging the skills gap

The World Economic Forum reports that 65% of tomorrow’s workers will be in jobs that do not exist today. Introducing digital skills, increasing online awareness and improving industry know-how are essential in ensuring young learners can leave school prepared and ready to succeed in life. In addition the 2017 CBI/Pearson Education and Skills Survey reports 75% of businesses expect to increase the number of high-skilled roles over the coming years, but 61% fear that there will be a lack of sufficiently skilled people to fill them. Change is certainly needed.

We have the solution. Our 100% moderated online communities create connections between teachers, learners and industry experts, allowing them to collaborate, innovate and learn together. Breaking down the barriers of the traditional classroom, the spaces are changing the way pupils can learn, providing essential digital skills and valuable insights into the world of work.

Following the success of The Wonder Why Society – our primary school community we are now launching Bridgr, for secondary schools in September 2018.

We are looking for industry partners to join this exciting new development.

Both digital communities provide organisations with an opportunity to work with young people and teachers in a completely new way. Benefits for industry partners include;

  • A unique opportunity to collaborate with schools of all types across the UK
  • Address the skills gap and create real social change
  • Have a permanent place in the classroom
  • Inspire pupils to learn about the world of work
  • Opportunity to measure all activity and assess impact
  • Create and empower an effective future workforce

Sam Fisher, Director of Business in Schools says; “Businesses have a lot to contribute to learners to empower young learners and spearhead their success. For the two stakeholders to work effectively together there needs to be more communication, more opportunity to make an impact. Our digital platforms provide that space. The two platforms provide that seamless link between the workplace and the classroom. We now need the support of the business community to make this change”

To find out how your company can join the learning revolution, visit www.businessinschools.org .

 

Let’s talk – safely

Working with children, young people and schools around the ‘difficult issues’ of extremism, exploitation and violence is often framed as negative and scary. Technology is seen as both the problem and the solution – a vehicle through which young people may be exploited or radicalised or a cure-all through which to reach large numbers of people, especially youth, to create counter narratives or anti-extremism content. While both of these perspectives hold validity, the bridging of the online and offline worlds – both of which young people and adults inhabit – is minimal. Large social media platforms cannot tell exactly who is engaging through their platforms, while schools remain a predominantly face to face experience.

Through an exciting new partnership, The Wonder Why Society and ConnectFutures will bridge these worlds to enhance learning and build resilience to negative influence. The Wonder Why Society is a 100% moderated, online learning space, created to help primary school children to develop the skills and digital know-how required to succeed post education. This is technology that enhances rather than replaces face to face contact and learning. At The Wonder Why Society we use our bespoke online platform as a youth-friendly, wide reaching and flexible medium that allows content developed by ConnectFutures to enable young people and teachers to approach these subjects in engaging, positive, and practical ways. Through stories, missions and debates with Wonder Why ‘characters’ – from fake news to resilience to recruitment techniques – young people can participate in activities designed to tackle the tough issues in fun, constructive ways. The platform, which is carefully moderated by The Wonder Why team, enables teachers to monitor and evaluative activities, embedding them in classroom activities and the wider curriculum. When issues arise that require more intense offline engagement, the system allows us to identify a young person and the relevant teacher. This is the creation of a safe, moderated online space, with direct connection to real world learning, to address the issues young people and schools can find most challenging.

So if your school is currently tackling the issue of how to embed Prevent and British values into your curriculum look no further. The solution is here and it’s free to state schools.

How can The Wonder Why Society help you to complete your Ofsted checklist?

According to TES, 75%of teachers say that Ofsted Inspections cause them “anxiety and depression”* The pressure teachers feel to meet expectations  placed on them is immeasurable. We want to help. Here at The Wonder Why society, we provide a safe online space which allows children, teachers and industry experts to learn together. By setting challenges and introducing new topics, the society connects children and schools from all over the UK. It takes down the walls of your classroom to bring a whole new dimension to learning.

We supply education providers with inspiring and original materials mapped to the curriculum, with topics covering key Ofsted requirements such as SMSC, British values and the prevent strategy. The projects and topics shared throughout the site encourage children to develop critical and higher order thinking skills.

Ofsted requires the teaching of democracy, the rule of law, individual liberty, and mutual respect for, and tolerance of those with different faiths and beliefs and for those without faith. These are big topics, inviting challenging questions and responses. Teaching them can seem like a daunting task. However, at the Wonder Why Society, we want to lessen this challenge for educators, by providing easily accessible resources, that aide the facilitation of high quality topic provision and learning.

The same goes for the teaching of the Prevent Strategy, which involves safeguarding vulnerable young people from radicalisation. The Wonder Why Society encourages students to voice different views, demonstrating that opinions are different to facts and ideas should be supported with an informed evidence base. We give children the opportunity to develop a voice and discuss the issues concerning them, in a safe and controlled environment. This space also allows for the open discussion of spiritual, moral, social and cultural development. Every school in England needs to promote, and be able to show pupil progress in SMSC. The ability to openly discuss these topics, paired with the resources we provide, makes for a meaningful and effective learning experience.

Not only this, but The Wonder Why Society platform acts as a safeguarding tool. Ofsted requires children to understand how to keep themselves safe from relevant risks such as abuse, sexual exploitation and extremism, including when using the internet and social media. Also, children are required to be personally prepared to respect others and contribute to wider society and life in Britain. Through interaction with other students online, in our environment, children are simultaneously discovering how to treat others online whilst also learning how to embrace a safe online place.

The tool offered by The Wonder Why Society is immensely flexible and easy to use. To see if you can lift a weight of your shoulders during inspection, why not visit www.thewonderwhysociety.co.uk and give it a try?

To wonder or not to wonder…..

The Wonder Why Society are delighted to announce our new partnership with arts and education charity Shakespeare Schools Foundation (SSF), who run the world’s largest youth drama project.
We are excited to be working with SSF on our shared goals of giving young people across the UK the confidence to succeed in life.
Through their annual Festival, which reaches approximately 1000 schools and 30,000 young people every year, SSF empower children from all backgrounds to bolster aspirations and improve life chances.
By partnering with The Wonder Why Society, children taking part in the Festival from all over the country will be able to collaborate, share stories and support each other via the platform.
Schools using The Wonder Why Society will also be able to access exciting Shakespeare resources via the platform, helping teachers to make teaching Shakespeare exciting and fun to teach!

Education is more than knowledge alone

The headline that is music to our ears. Ahead of his speech to the Association of School and College Leaders CBI President Paul Drechsler CBE will call on policymakers to make education in England about more than results and knowledge recall and to prioritise teaching that encourages thoughts, questions, creativity and teamworking.

He continues, emphasising the need to improve education so that we develop “rounded”  work-ready individuals.

In addition, The World Economic Forum* reports that 65% of tomorrow’s workers will be in jobs that do not exist today. Introducing digital skills, increasing online awareness and improving industry know-how are essential in ensuring young learners can leave school prepared and ready to succeed in life.

The Wonder Why Society and Bridgr our 100% moderated online learning spaces, create connections between teachers, primary school children and industry experts, allowing them to collaborate, innovate and learn together. Breaking down the barriers of the traditional classroom, the spaces are changing the way children learn by providing them with essential digital skills and valuable insight into the world of work.

Sam Fisher, CEO explains; “In school, the focus on passing tests and regurgitating information can be at the expense of encouraging wonder and inspiring innovative thinking. We know that creativity and innovation are essential skills in our emerging digital world and this is the reason we created the Wonder Why Society and why we are launching Bridgr in Spring 2018.

“We are providing a safe space where children can learn, discover, and ask questions about the world they live in. Our online environment allows learners to create, debate and innovate, children can learn about ever-evolving industries, straight from professionals, to set them up for a job in the future.”

We are currently inviting industry partners to be part of this exciting new development so that we can continue to offer this service free of charge to state schools.

Both The Wonder Why Society and Bridgr provide organisations and companies with an opportunity to work with young people and teachers in a completely new way. Benefits for industry partners include;

  • A unique opportunity to collaborate with schools of all types across the UK
  • Address the skills gap and create real social change
  • Have a permanent place in the classroom
  • Inspire young children to learn about the world of work
  • Opportunity to measure all activity and assess impact
  • Create and empower an effective future workforce

For more information on our work in primary schools visit www.thewonderwhysociety.com or bridgr.co.uk to see our secondary school site launching soon.