A guest post by Marty Keltz, CritterKin Co-founder, educator and Emmy award winning producer
I am flattered to have this opportunity to be a guest blogger for Craig Kemp. The timing is perfect with the beginning of Connected Educator Month and my own discovery of life among the hashtags. For me, hashtags have been an ideal curation device for discovering educators who are indifferent to hierarchies and gather to promote child-centered education. Growing a base of these educators accelerates and encourages the use of multimedia and multimodal technologies to individualize learning.
It is this same group of educators that has embraced and generously contributed to our vision for CritterKin (CritterKin.com). A story-driven children’s media property, CritterKin combines the power of story with multi-media, multimodal approaches to teaching the whole child. CritterKin co-founder Jena Ball and I both believe that education has to be more than just teaching skills; more than just brain food. Giving children the opportunity to experience and practice emotional literacy – empathy, compassion and kindness – makes school a felt as well as an intellectual experience.
Connected educators come to Twitter, Voxer, Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram, etc. for community. They come to share an emotionally rewarding experience as much as for professional development. These are teachers who want the same type of felt connections with their students, and for their students to have with each other. #YouMatter is as important for teachers as it is for students.
Yes, we want to stop bullying and violence in schools, but first we have to get kiddos smiling and emotionally responsive to the very human challenges we are all faced with. Learning disabilities are learning differences, and differences are what make being connected a rich, rewarding experience in which we can all celebrate diversity.
For centuries we have used animals to teach values in safe, non-threatening stories and parables. Children identify with animal characters, rooting and fearing for them and gladly following their adventures. Within the CritterKin stories, children see themselves, their friends and the adults who are around them every day. Transferring lessons from the animals and story to real life is the work of the PBL activities that Jena and I have developed with the teachers and children we’ve been working with across North America.
Here is an image from our “Quilting for Kindness project.” I hope it will tempt you to take the deeper dive into CritterKin’s Pinterest pages and website. The next chapter in connectivity, is going global. The need to increase every child’s emotional literacy, so that everyone in the world becomes more empathic, compassionate and kind, is as important for nations as it is for our children.