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Teaching a Pattern for Life

Educators will help students establish an evidence-based pattern for their whole life, including their academic life.

Photo of Paolo Ven B. Paculan
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Written by

I am a.....

  • Teacher

Tell us about your idea

School interferes with life. Sometimes. Homework causes sleepless nights. Group meetings eat up family time. The excellence work ethic makes students forget their health and well-being.

But the lockdowns had an unexpected result for some. Some found that they finally had time for things that are important but tended to be forgotten--prayer and meditation, exercise, a good night's sleep, play, reading, relaxation, contacting long-lost friends, etc.

What if school encouraged these habits instead of impinging on them? Schools could:

1) Establish from the most robust scientific findings what constitutes a healthy, happy, meaningful life.

a) 30 mins light exercise per day

b) mindfulness or spirituality

c) play or hobbies

d) at least 7 hours of sleep a day

e) 8 glasses of water

f) healthy food--eat food, not too much, mostly plants

g) socialization

h) service (family, community, world) 

i) self-care

j) meaningful learning (I almost forgot :))

k) etc.

2) Then they could ask the students to create a daily/weekly/monthly plan to realistically apply these suggestions to their lives. For example: MAKE AN EXERCISE PLAN: How could you integrate 2 1/2 hours of active time into your weekly schedule? Considering your other responsibilities, when is the best time for you to do school tasks?

3) The "Subject Teachers" could help the students develop these habits and monitor these with them. PE could suddenly become an everyday subject. Arts/Music could suddenly take center stage and be essential for students' mental health. Guidance Counselors could prioritize getting enough sleep for the students.

4) Academic Learning should be meaningful to their world, their contexts and challenges, especially the current one. Science lessons could ask students to measure how long they could smell perfume after it was sprayed from a bottle to mimic aerosolization of the virus. Social studies could discuss how a world with less inequality could handle the next pandemic better. Language lessons could try crisis communication in simple forms--what tagline would encourage your own people with their own cultural values and specific contexts to embrace physical distancing? 

What part(s) of the pre-COVID school system do you wish to leave in the past? Why?

Too much focus on school.

Tell us a little bit about yourself and what inspired you to share this idea.

I have been teaching Filipino language for 21 years and have seen students and even my own children give up many important things for school. I've also seen schools prioritize academic subjects over the Arts, or Exercise, or Mindfulness Training which were so life-giving and sanity-preserving for many people during the periods of quarantine. Because many schools will have to teach kids in their own homes, with its own demands and schedules, school now has a chance not just to "consider" the students' contexts but to create the life that we want to educate our students to have.

What region are you located in?

  • South-eastern Asia

Where are you located?

Marikina, Philippines is a city but feels very suburban. Income inequality is felt and seen here, but people make do and are decent to each other. Filipinos put a high premium on education and hard work, so they need to learn to balance this with self-care and a healthier pattern of living.


Join the conversation:

Photo of Hannah Kahl

Hi Paolo and Peter! Paolo, your idea about teaching around important life skills definitely aligns with our focus at Project Commotion and affirms the direction we want to continue moving in as we navigate a new hybrid-model of school/home learning.

We agree that student success starts with organization. That’s also why we see the first step for re-opening the doors to our studio in the fall as educating and including parents on what our lessons will be modeled off of and how/why we are focusing on these topics.

At Project Commotion, we have an established practice of being very clear about the agenda each day. This is to create a sense of safety for our students of various backgrounds and abilities. Staying true to these schedules has proved time and time again to be a source of comfort for many students because they know what to expect and what is expected of them. And when students of any age feel confident in the adults around them, they thrive. And we also agree that students form the strongest healthy habits when they start early in life.

Your idea is helping us to think about how to communicate with parents about this supportive organizational structure, so that there can be fluid dialogue about the connection between health and learning. Perhaps the most effective way to go about this would be to include families in the initial school year planning process. This might be accomplished by holding group discussions, individual conversations, or sending out surveys to our studio community.

Have you built on your idea in the past few weeks? We would love to hear about any updates or other thoughts.

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