There are so many things each of us would like to do, to accomplish. We could aim at “ordinary” things, such as buying a new car or losing some weight. We may also dream about flying into space, gaining immortal fame or being the best teacher in the world, who will be remembered by students for ages. Unfortunately, according to research, about 92% people do not achieve the goals they set. Why are the statistics so sad? The reasons are various, and depend on the person but we can’t help noticing that plenty of us give up the strive to get the desired because we feel we are limited, we see the obstacles which, as we believe, can’t be overcome in any way. For instance, to fly into space, you need to be astronaut which requires years of training and exquisite technical and science skills. Too demanding, let’s forget it. What about being famous? But what shall I be famous for? No idea, let’s leave it. Ok, but I really dream about being this unforgettable, amazing teacher. But how to achieve it if I lack teaching aids? How can I lead my students if I don’t have any needed materials? Impossible, what should I even try for?

Does it have to be like that? Are we really so dependant on the circumstances, which we have no influence over? Well, let us share a short story with you. The story of persistent educators who didn’t permit the everyday hardships to keep them from reaching their goals:

At WhyBlueSky we train teachers in 21st century skills. We go from one school to another, visiting various kinds of them: from the richest, where children have all the learning aids and technologies at hand, to the poorest, where there is a blackboard, some desks and little more than that. During our visits we conduct workshops with teachers- one of our most favourite activities 🙂 Mainly because this is the time where all those wealth level differences disappear. Then it is all about the engagement and effort the teachers put into activities. It is really reassuring as it is vital to us that our training program is affordable for anyone who is willing to learn and develop. One of the exercises that we use to present our method- activity-based learning– is building geometrical figures out of toothpicks and plasticine. During one workshop we were conducting the exercise at a school. We brought the materials with us which turned out to be a good idea- there was no plasticine in the whole place. Having finished the workshops, on one hand we were very satisfied- the teachers were working passionately and they enjoyed the tasks. On the other hand we were worried- how will they manage to do it on their own or introduce what they learned to their students? How will they do that, not having the resources, no plasticine, no toothpicks? We were afraid that this simple, ordinary obstacle will make them discouraged and they will resign from doing it. Anyway, we left the school, encouraging the teachers to repeat the exercise and to send us photos afterwards, to show the results. We admit it: we were curious how, or even: if, they cope with the lack of materials. When we finally got the photos, it turned out that they did cope with it- and they did it well.
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They didn’t have the exact things we had used during the workshop- that didn’t change. But instead of going frustrated over it, they started to ponder on how to make use of stuff they had at hand. So: any toothpicks? No? But there are sticks! No plasticine? But we have polystyrene! If we plunge sticks ends into it, it will do. Some of the teachers even used the seeds from nearby trees to joint the sticks! Isn’t that a sign of great creativity?

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You may say: ok, great, but toothpicks? Plasticine? What does it have in common with those noble ideas, ambitious goals? Yes, perhaps it is not spectacular. Yet. Because what they did was noticing possibilities in obstacles. And they could simply give up, claiming it is impossible to do. But if they had, they would have put themselves away from what they really want to be- the remarkable educators and leaders for their students. They have made a step on the road that is leading them to achieving this goal. Simply by making an effort instead of giving up.

What about you? What is still holding you back from achieving what you want?

If becoming better and better teacher is also your goal, we want  to invite you to explore the samples of our teaching tools! You can find them here.

21st century skills without fancy teaching aids

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8 thoughts on “21st century skills without fancy teaching aids
  1. It’s very satisfactory to see our children learning in a natural way. Thank God for WhyBlueSky’s partnership with AFED Nigeria and Anambra State.

  2. After reading your post and watching your videos I became Encouraged as a teacher.I also realized that using the available resources/teaching aids within our reach will help us get the required result.God bless Whyblue Sky for their intervention in the teaching industry in Anambra state Nigeria.They are God sent.

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