Teacher Blog of the Week – The Mission for Instruments

BCF teacher Dave Green, at Pakshikha MSS, writes about his experience beginning a music club at his school and the adventure to collect the instruments…

“On Saturday nearly half the staff piled into the school bus and made the journey down into the sweltering furnace of commerce they call Phuentsholing. I’ve been down to the  border town 4 or 5 times now but I’m still struck afresh by the geological transition between Bhutan and India. The dramatic ups and downs of the deep valleys and steep forested mountainsides of the Himalayan foothills just stop all of a sudden and give way to an endless plain. On a clear day, like it was on Saturday, you really grasp how endless this flatness is. It just goes on and on and on and…

The endless plain through prayer flag.

…The official business of the trip was the buying of musical instruments. With a grant from Bhutan Canada Foundation and money raised at the charity concert by the kids and staff of Chepstow School, my aim was to buy everything the school would need to run a music club, have bands and do performances. The school already had some traditional instruments, and more were on the way, so we needed to secure the classic combo of keyboard, bass, drums, guitars.

Mr Subodh of Modern House Music (Photo Credit: Dave Green)

Read the whole adventure and see what instruments Dave was able to get for his school at The Mission for Instruments

Bhutan Sport – Khuru

Khuru (darts) is a popular outdoor team sport often played during festivals and archery tournaments. It is played all across Bhutan and can take up the entire day, often continuing long into the evening!

Our BCF teacher, Martin, based in Bumthang with his wife Tara, had the opportunity to try his hand, and learnt it’s a lot harder than it looks!

Here’s how to score:
1 point is a hand-width from the marker
2 points for hitting the wooden marker
3 points for landing in the target colours

Here are some photos from his experiences, coutesy of their blog, Martin’s Version:

The school Khuru pit, with 25 metres between targets.

Tshewang in action for his team.
Pema in coloured glory, his 2 darts ready.
A bullseye means your team sings and dances a traditional victory display, same as with archery.

See Martin and Tara’s entire adventure with Khuru here: Snippets of Bhutan

Edu4Happiness – The spirit of Bhutan in Cushing

Lyonpo Thakur S. Powdyel, Minister of Education for the Royal Government of Bhutan

Bhutan Today, a daily newspaper in Bhutan, had the chance to speak with the Minister of Education, Lyonpo Thakur Singh Powdyel, the Chief Guest at the Symposium on Educating for Sustainable Happiness in an email interview about his experience at Cushing Academy.

It has been a most humbling experience for me personally to see the amount of goodwill and support for our country from every soul we met. Cushing Academy, alma mater of His Majesty our beloved King, is an extraordinary seat of learning. I found it a model of a green school in the true sense of the term. I am most delighted that we have an opportunity now to work together with this outstanding centre of learning.” Lyonpo told Bhutan TODAY in an e-mail interview.

Read the rest of the article on Bhutan Today here: The spirit of Bhutan in Cushing

Photo of the Week – Visits to the classroom

Photo Credit: Andrea Burke.

Special thanks to Andrea Burke who has sent us some beautiful photos of her recent travels to Bhutan. Andrea had the chance to visit our BCF teacher Noorin (pictured below in the back) at her school, Khuruthang MSS, in Punakha.

We’d love to see your photos of Bhutan! 
Send your best snaps and photo credit information to info@bhutancanada.org

Photo of the Week – Enchanting Rainbows

This week, we thought we’d go back to the basics with a beautiful photo from Sabrina as she ventured from her home in Chumey, Bumthang to Eastern Bhutan on her mid-year break.

Photo Credit: Sabrina

“As I traveled further up to Barsham the air became lighter as well as cooler and I felt blessed to stay the night in a gorgeous monastery.  The monastery had amazing views looking down at tiny villages dressing the slopes of the mountains and my eyes seemed to stretch for miles

I could have easily stayed forever to gaze at the most capturing rainbows that would suddenly appear to steal the scene and make the mountains look like fuzzy backdrops.  Everyone would stop in their tracks to be absorbed into the rainbows enchanting beauty.  Thus, leaving Barsham was difficult because I had fallen in love with the cloudy sky that would sometimes permit the most magnificent views.” 

Read about the rest of her Eastern adventure and check out her fascinating photos in Eastern Bhutan – Magical Clouds

We’d love to see your photos of Bhutan! 
Send your best snaps and photo credit information to info@bhutancanada.org

Edu4Happiness August 11th

After a terrific first day spent discussing happiness in education and the future of learning in the 21st century, participants at Edu4Happiness were back yesterday morning, taking in a keynote address by Patrick Bassett of the National Association of Independent Schools, discussing the role of the arts in developing leadership abilities and how to use gamification as a learning tool, and exploring the impact of the democratization of knowledge through the use of technology.

Slides and documents from most of the presentations can be viewed at www.tinyurl.com/Edu4HappinessSlides 

Patrick Bassett, National Association of Independent Schools

Patrick Bassett opened his keynote address by asking an important question, “Are schools designed to fit kids? Or adults?” That is, are students being taught in the way they like to learn? Or are they being taught in the way teachers like to teach?

 Pat maintains that, in fact, students are being taught in a way that zaps creativity and makes students conformist. In order to combat this issue education needs to be more experiential and must underscore the skills and values that will be both demanded and rewarded in the 21st century.

Pat insists that the skills and values most important to making significant contribution to society are as follows:

  • Critical thinking 
  • Creativity 
  • Collaboration 
  • Communication 
  •  Character 
  •  Cosmopolitanism 

To learn more about the “Five Cs + One” click HERE.

Kul Wadhwa, Head of Mobile & Business Development, Wikimedia Foundation 

On the heels of a number of visionary presentations, Kul Wadhwa of Wikimedia provided examples of ways he and the Wikimedia team are taking the idea of democratizing knowledge through technology and implementing it in practical ways across the globe. He spoke of initiatives like Wikipedia Zero, which enables users in the developing world to access the entirety of Wikipedia’s articles through their mobile phone WITHOUT the use of a browser and for FREE.

 Kul spoke of a number of other initiatives that Wikimedia is working on to use technology for empowerment and education, including providing the ability for users to download the full Wikipedia library using highly compressed ZIM files, which are small enough that the library can fit on a thumb drive.

 His presentation hit a chord with a lot of participants:

Carin Zinter ‏@CarinZinter
Wikipedia Zero. What a brilliant initiative to help people in developing countries to have greater access to information. #edu4happiness

Bruce Lemieux ‏@blemieux
@thekulway #edu4happiness you were one of the bright lights in steering the course. Hope to further collaborate.

Breakout Sessions

Jasmine Cumberland ‏@JasCumberland
Really interesting example of classroom gamification in LA and Detroit – thanks @joncassie and @irwinmi2! #Edu4Happiness

Maureen Greenbaum ‏@sumware
@cushingAcademy 2:30 today join me #edu4happiness http://bit.ly/Ed4Happy #edtech provides personal tutor solving B Bloom 2 sigma problem

Educating4Happiness ‏@Edu4HappinessWhat role can theatre and music play in developing leadership skills amongst students? #Edu4Happiness

Jeffrey Sachs, Director, Earth Institute at Columbia University

To close things off we were joined by Jeffrey Sachs via Skype. A global voice in the movement to recognize happiness as a important indicator of human progress and wellbeing, Jeffrey spoke about the recently released World Happiness Report, which he co-authored, and it’s implications for education. He encouraged educators to take the challenges we are facing today as a human race – sustainability, global warming, poverty reduction – and make them relevant in their own communities. In particular, by prompting students to think about what these issues mean from a local perspective. What does climate change look like in Massachusetts? And what can be done on a micro level to address it?

Additional resources: 
Global Happiness Report
Sustainable Development Solutions Network

Edu4 Happiness August 10th: Part II

Yesterday afternoon was packed with just as much goodness as the morning, with a keynote address by Ron Canuel of Canadian Education Association, a panel discussion by the Bhutanese delegation made up of Dr. Saamdu Chetri, Phuntsho Lhamo, Sonam Choggyel and Passang Norbu, and breakout sessions on topics ranging from sustainable education, cross-cultural learning expeditions, implementing technology and mindfulness in education.

Slides from many of the keynote and breakout sessions are available at: www.tinyurl.com/Edu4HappinessSlides
Ron Canuel, CEO of Canadian Education Association

 Ron’s talk, titled “Impressive But Not Convincing”, was centered around his belief that educators need to be courageous and take the steps needed to implement some of the “impressive” ideas often discussed by education thought leaders, especially when it comes to using technology. He highlighted six critical lessons that are essential in order to get to succeed in this implementation:

Lesson #1: Education doesn’t really like change. In order to be successful it’s important to focus on mid-adapters – enabling their success will enable the success of other mid-adopters and eventually reach late- adopters.

Lesson #2: If technology is not reliable teachers will simply put the machines aside.

Lesson #3: Curriculum must support the integration of technology and become transformational in both learning and teaching contexts.

Lesson #4: Pragmatic buy-in is necessary, not just philosophical buy-in.

Lesson #5: Evaluation drives instruction and should be completed prior to deployment.

Lesson #6: The student voice need to be a predominate in the new class environment that is driven by technology.

Breakout Sessions

Bruce Lemieux @blemieux

Transformation takes place through being mindful and taking on responsibilities. #edu4happinessYang Gyeltshen @CushingAcademy @BhutanCanada
Initiatives in Educating for GNH
Peter Clarke from Cushing Academy facilitated a discussion on initiatives in educating for Gross National Happiness that featured educators from Bhutan who are currently implementing these practices in their classrooms.

Edu4Happiness August 10th: Part I

Educating for Sustainable Happiness was off to a cracking start with keynote addresses from Dr. James Tracy and Dr. Tony Wagner as well as a handful of illuminating talks from breakout session leaders on a wide range of topics including, learning about spiritual exemplars, crowdsourcing education, pursuing a virtuous life, designing culturally relevant curriculum, exploring experiential learning and solving challenging problems.

Addresses by Dr. Tracy and Dr. Wagner will be available on our YouTube channel in the coming days, but until then here’s a brief summary of what’s been discussed so far:

Dr. James Tracy, Head of School, Cushing Academy 

Dr. Tracy spoke of the need for education to catch up with the rapidly changing nature of our world and for students to be taught the ability to analyze amidst numerous electronic distractions. The fact is, he maintains, that change is happening more quickly than it has at any other point in human history and that the next twenty years will see much more change than the last eighty years. The result, of course, is that while we cannot anticipate what our students will be learning twenty years from now, we can create within them a comfort with accelerating change, so that they can navigate the information surplus society we now live in while maintaining ethics, morality and civility.

Dr. Tony Wagner, Innovation Education Fellow, Harvard University

Amongst other fascinating ideas articulated in his keynote address, “Creating Innovators”, Dr. Tony Wagner laid out a set of core competencies that were the result of asking some of the world’s leading innovators, “What are the skills that we need most?

What he found was that the following core competencies are most important in building students who are lifelong learners and active citizens:

  • Critical thinking and problem solving
  •  Collaboration across networks and leading by influence – rely on peer leadership and not supervisors
  • Agility and adaptability
  • Initiative and entrepreneurialism 
  • Effective oral and written communication  – the reason students can’t write and communicate effective is because they do not know how to think – they do not know how to write with “voice”
  • Knowledge as a commodity
  • Curiosity and imagination

Breakout Sessions

Jasmine Cumberland@JasCumberland

Discussion time around some of @EdGen‘s biggest challenges at #Edu4Happiness http://pic.twitter.com/VgLMv6qU

Robin Pendoley@robinpendoley

Change STEM to STEAM – without Art, STEM never gets turned into meaningful design – Susan Crichton #edu4happiness
#edu4happiness Andrew Potter LeadAmerica Popular solutions to cross cultural learning Are they working? Testing? http://twitpic.com/ahr5et
CA’s Grant Geske discusses new approaches to teaching & learning thru technology, curiosity & collaboration during symposium #Edu4Happiness

Edu4Happiness:Creating Green Schools

Educating for Sustainable Happiness is kicked off last night to with an address by Lyonpo Thakur S. Powdyel, Minister of Education for the Royal Government of Bhutan, and chief symposium guest. Lyonpo delivered a beautiful speech on the subject of ‘Educating for Gross National Happiness.”

Bhutan is widely known for its efforts to integrate the concept and practice of Gross National Happiness into its school system; one of the ways they are doing this is through the creation of what The Honourable Minister called “Green Schools.”

According to The Honourable Minister, it is through the creation of these Green Schools that students will have the best educational experience – an experience that is not only prepares students to enter the job market, but also promotes happy, healthy good lives for students.

So what do these Green Schools look like?

The Honourable Minister says that they are made up of several different components:

Environmental/Natural Greenery: We belong to the Earth and as such, our places of learning should reflect this connection. It is when our senses are activated that our hearts are most open and and our minds are most welcoming.

Intellectual Greenery: “The life of the school is the life of the mind.” The importance of valuing what kind of minds young people bring with them to the school and what kind of discussions are happening both in the classroom and in the staffroom needs to be underscored in green schools. Fostering critical discussion and encouraging an openness of the mind allows students and staff to both cherish longstanding cultural and academic traditions, but also innovate and engage with the changing world.

Academic Greenery: “Why is physics, physics? What is the nature of physics? What is the relationship of physics in my own life?” It is by asking these important questions about the things being learned and taught in school that we can understand our place in the world.

Social Greenery: Social greenery is made up of all of the positive things that accumulate within the school – the dreams and values that students bring with them, which enrich the institution and produce a positive energy that will ultimately reach beyond the walls of the classroom and enhance the world around them.

The Honourable Minister also mentioned the importance of Cultural Greenery (the integration of cultural values into school life), Spiritual Greenery (recognizing our spiritual dimension, whatever that may be), and Moral Greenery (the cultivation of the ability to distinguish between categories of values.)

Stay tuned for more updates from Educating for Happiness! Follow us online at  www.facebook.com/educatingforhappiness. Join the conversation on twitter at www.twitter.com/Edu4Happiness or by using the hashtag #Edu4Happiness.