Lifeworthy Learning

“I congratulate you students for being so forward-thinking,” John Michael Cascio from Freight Farms (vertical farming in shipping containers) shared when talking with the Grade 6 students yesterday. Never has it become more evident that we need to focus our learning and teaching time and energy on nurturing students who want to and can make positive contributions to our world. 

Lifeworthy learning not only increases our students’ engagement and motivation, but what they learn sticks, is transferable to multiple contexts and most importantly they become self-directed learners who have the competencies and commitment to make a difference now and in the future.

Let’s reimagine education around the topics and themes that truly matter in learners’ lives.

The universe of education is expanding. In more and more schools, new themes are claiming time and space. Educators are calling for more attention to large-scale human problems like global warming and worldwide poverty.”                        

David Perkins, Harvard Graduate School of Education, Lifeworthy Learning, key concept from his book Future Wise

Inspired by David Attenborough’s recent film, A Life on Our Planet, Grade 6 students researched an environmental issue to better understand it before coming up with ideas of what they and our community could do to address this issue. Alternatives to fossil fuel energy, veganism, responsible forest management, and vertical farming were among the many issues these learners shared with each other and invited guests.

Supporting connections and next steps, Grade 6 science and math teachers invited environmental entrepreneur John Michael Cascio to share his expertise about vertical farming.  After viewing a couple of introductory videos, (Video 1 and Video 2), students prepared many thoughtful questions for the visitor and one Grade 6 student emceed the 30 minute advisory session. 

The Q & A session explored in what ways and to what extent vertical farming is a “green initiative”. John Michael also shared the key entrepreneurial skills and realities necessary in making one’s ideas a reality (business plans, venture capital,  getting a patent, managing a budget, etc.) After 10 years in business and being a leader in vertical farming, John Michael shared that the goal of vertical farming is getting fresh produce closer to the consumer, reducing carbon footprint by consuming fewer resources (water, transport, labor, land, etc) and reducing costs significantly. 

Operating in 32 countries (including here in Europe) Freight Farms also works with universities and K-12 schools. This small business, originally was a start-up dream, attracted venture capital and has now become a leader in this niche field of farming.

Across the school there is a real interest in better understanding and contributing to the environmental challenges we all face. From Middle and Upper School Modern Languages wrestling with current environmental issues in countries where the target language is spoken to Upper School science students better understanding the role and impact vaccinations have had over time, ISP learners are focusing on lifeworthy learning. As John Michael suggested to the students, “follow your interests, start a project and then make it happen.” We hope to increase our partnerships and student action in these key challenges that our world faces.