A Brighter Tomorrow: How One And All Play A Part In The Future Of Our World Through Today’s Children
A lively technological environment, the current global ecological situation, an unknown future that lies before us—this is the world we are raising our children in. It has become clear that change must happen, hope instilled early on, and a true change in how we educate and equip our children for a world uncertain—but how?
On Wednesday, July 18, children’s learning expert and KidZania’s Global Director of Education, Dr. Ger Graus OBE, shared his insights on filling kids’ learning gaps in a pioneering educators forum dubbed “Raising the Next Generation: The Role We Play,” held at KidZania Manila in Bonifacio Global City.
The lively summit aimed to inspire educators, parents, and industry players to use their huge roles in gearing up today’s kids to become empowered and successful citizens of the world tomorrow. Graus, like many educators and learning experts of today, believes that every child is our responsibility. “Parents, community, and industry partners all have roles to play in the education (not just schooling) of children and growing them 21st century ready,” he shared. “Children can only aspire to what they know exists,” said the doctor as he then stressed the need to allow children “to write their own narrative of the possible” by leading them to opportunities for exploration, curiosity, research, and fun. Herein lies is the power of role play—it encourages children to be curious and to explore, making them into leaders and citizens of the world who solve problems that we never had to solve before.
Graus is KidZania’s first Global Director of Education and a true champion of the children. An Honorary Officer of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire (OBE) for services to children, Dr. Graus started in KidZania London back in 2014 and has been responsible for developing UK-wide education strategies (such as partnerships with schools, Higher Education, commercial and third sector learning partners) to encourage and innovate learning opportunities for kids. He has been at the heart of project development in programs such as "KidZania World Online," "KidZtalk," "KidZania Careers Week," the education "Think-Tank," "Ambassador Schools" and independent evaluations, amongst others.
In Alex Beard’s book, Natural Born Learners, the author says of Ger: “In learning terms, Ger Graus is Jean-Jacques Rousseau meets Willy Wonka”—and what an apt description that is of the man. Graus is a man of hope, believing that hope is where we need to sit and is what we need to peddle to the next generation. “Children need to be able to write their own narrative of the possible,” he shared, and to enable our children, “we have to know our children.”
This is where KidZania comes in as one of the avenues now wherein children can gain the experience, which will then enable them to connect the dots of the subject matter and curriculum provided by traditional schooling. “We can stop blaming schools,” he added. “Who is the teacher? We all are. Every child is everybody’s responsibility. We need to be more daring, more grown up. We need to get to know the children—what sits behind their emotional intelligence. We need our education system to be more experience based and more experience driven.”
Aside from Graus, the forum also featured speakers who shed light on ways we could all become champions of children and how better to raise the next generation: Rex Lor, educator and social innovator at the Hub of Innovation for Inclusion at De La Salle–College of St. Benilde, who spoke about empowerment through creativity and innovation by way of leading children from being just content absorbers to becoming creators themselves.
In addition, Lor explained that we must teach empathy and communication to our children, and encourage them to collaborate and play. CEO and Founder of Edukasyon.PH, Henry Motte-Muñoz, who talked about making the young generation future-ready by transforming them from being passive listeners to active decision makers through immersive role play and realistic career previews. Jose Luis Oquiñena, Gawad Kalinga’s executive director, talked about igniting passions and purpose of young leaders by building hope, especially among unfortunate children, and fostering a more caring next generation. Awardee of 2016 Ten Outstanding Women of the Nation (of TOWNS Foundation) and Culiat Elementary School faculty member, Sabrina Ongkiko, inspired all in attendance to instill a love for country by embodying patriotism and telling the right stories to kids that will shape their future.
Photos courtesy of KidZania