How Education can Contribute to Healing and Well-Being:
A Global Listening Initiative Facilitated by Partners of IF20 Education Working Group
The IF20 Education Working Group’s (IF20 Edu WG) partners interpreted the 2021 IF20’s theme is A Time to Heal as a call for a collective reflection on the global challenges confronting humanity during COVID-19 pandemic, not only in terms of losing human lives to the virus, but also the myriad social malaises suffered by peoples and communities. What has been revealed throughout the pandemic is the prevailing structural violence and systemic dehumanisation, manifested in widespread poverty (material and spiritual), discrimination, divisiveness, violent antagonism, and the violation of ecological integrity. A key element to consider as we move forward is the imperative of collective healing and the holistic well-being of children, young people, educators and communities. Such an imperative must be located in systemic transformation of education, supported by religious, faith and interfaith communities worldwide.
IF20 Edu WG’s partners believe that healing and well-being can be found in the quietude of deep silence, the attentiveness and caring of deep listening, and the openness, curiosity, and mutual valuing of deep dialogue. Together these three interlocking relational processes can offer comfort to the vulnerable, appease the wounded, and make whole our selves fragmented by trauma, anxiety and fear. From deep silence-listening-dialogue, we return to ourselves and to our community and re-experience each other as part of ‘WE’, a relational reality at the core of our well-being. In deep silence-listening-dialogue, we tune into a greater source of wisdom, re-centre ourselves, and engender co-belongingness.
More specifically, deep silence enables us to dwell in where human spirit resides – within us, in our encounters with others, and in our being-with each other, all things in nature and the transcendent. Deep listening is to attend to ourselves and to others from a place of valuing, caring, receiving and mutual giving. It is generative, empathic, supportive, and open and trusting the unknown. Deep dialogue is to open ourselves to difference, deepen our awareness of the Other, cultivate curiosity and questioning, and collaborate towards new possibilities. It enables us to share our life experiences, concerns and aspirations and helps to break down hierarchical structure and power dynamics within an educational institution, thus nourishing generative relations. Through deep silence-listening-dialogue, we open ourselves to the lived realities of each other compassionately and caringly, enriching our WE.
Between March and June 2021, IF20 Edu WG partners and collaborators hosted a series of regional listening/dialogue meetings where safe and caring spaces were co-created to engage adolescents (aged 14–18) in these three interlocking processes, online and/or face-to-face. During listening groups, adults facilitated adolescents to listen to each other about their experiences of education and learning during the last 18 months, and sought their perspectives on educational transformation as we move forward.
Through collaborating and engaging global adolescents, the following recommendations have been identified as fundamental to educational transformation:
- Respecting children and young people as partners for educational transformation and engaging them formally and informally in educational decisions at all levels;
- Creating spaces in curriculum for innovative, community-rooted, well-being oriented contents, such as spiritual practices, social emotional learning, opportunities for relational enrichment, play, creativity, nature and outdoor experiences, environmental education, arts, sports, volunteering, service learning;
- Abolishing standardisation and high-stakes testing and taking a participatory, collaborative, relational and context-sensitive approach to educational evaluation, including involving children, young people, teachers, parents, and others in the community in co-inquiries, dialogue and formative reflection on education;
- Prioritising teachers’ well-being and professional development, in particular, to improve their digital and online teaching competencies, and their capability to facilitate co-creative, collaborative and dialogic spaces for teaching and learning;
- Investing in good educational resources and facilities to ensure all children and young people have equitable & consistent access to both in-person and online learning opportunities.
The IF20 Edu WG partners are now reviewing these recommendations in the light of other education policy proposals put forward by global religious, faith and interfaith organisations, and international orgnisations, such as UNESCO, UNICEF and the Worldbank. Following this process, we will develop a Policy Brief to be presented to G20 Leaders Summit in Rome to be held on 30-31 October 2021.
Working Group Areas
- Religious Literacy