These Educators Want to Transform School by Empowering Kids to Play
They have schools all around the world.
Dina Buchbinder and Yizreel Urquijo met aboard Ship for World Youth, an international exchange program for young global leaders sponsored by the Japanese government. They were there as representatives of Mexico, and the program gave them an opportunity to learn about different cultures and world issues so they could be leaders in a global world.
After their travels, the new friends decided to continue their impactful work and set their sights high. They wanted to disrupt the traditional education system by starting an organization called Education for Sharing, in the hopes of beginning the process of creating global leaders at a young age.
Education for Sharing has programs in and out of the classroom that use a “play, reflect, and take action” framework that highlights civic values and the Sustainable Development Goals. The model emphasizes a collaborative, open-ended approach to learning.
Today, Education for Sharing uses its methodology in sports initiatives, science classes, and art programs in schools across Mexico, the United States, Argentina, Guatemala, the Dominican Republic, and Panama.
The organization wants to change the global education system by encouraging students to look outward, think critically, and tackle global issues. Education for Sharing aims to make students aware of issues like water and sanitation and sustainable energy so that they grow up with the incentive to create positive social change.
The program operates in a diverse array of schools. Their first programs were implemented in four schools Mexico — one in the north of the country catering to a local Indigenous community, two private schools in Mexico City, and a public school in the southeast.
Education for Sharing varies from country to country so that individual schools align with local curricula and support community objectives. They all, however, emphasize play as a tool to enhance learning.
”Play is our vehicle to unfold people’s talents that they don’t know about or are afraid to try,” Buchbinder told Global Citizen. “This new approach is meant to make learning more approachable, inclusive, and more fun.”
During the course of their programs, teachers, parents, and children are exposed to contemporary global challenges and taught how individuals can be a part of larger social changes.
To foster systemic change within education, Education for Sharing begins by training teachers with innovative pedagogical skills. They prepare teachers to go beyond standard curricula. Instead of solely teaching facts, they encourage teachers to instill in students a way of thinking about living in a global community and the responsiblity that entails.
By training teachers at schools, Education for Sharing is able to ensure that its program goes on even if staff members go elsewhere.
Students and teachers ultimately fill out surveys before and after the year-long program implementation to see how much progress has been made. Questions aim to measure bullying, gender equality, empathy, teamwork, and fairplay.
According to early studies, 86% of teachers reported that bullying was reduced in their school spaces due to Education for Sharing’s initiatives. This decrease in bullying allows students to feel safer and be more connected with what is happening in the classroom so that they can learn more.
Education for Sharing’s goal is to reach every corner of the world so that more people are given access to a more open-ended learning experience.
“Our vision is to keep on innovating with subjects that people don’t necessarily see related to play," Buchbinder said, "and to open new opportunities for education to happen in a way where people find the best version of themselves."
Learn more about Education for Sharing here.