Where are the Learning Journey stories from? How do we decide where to make the stories? What's the approach?
We learn about amazing people, meet amazing people, and go from there.
The magic is there is no magic. Our process is organic and based on our ever-growing network and community of amazing and unique humans.
We're trying our best to become increasingly inclusive across all kinds of borders and lines of difference. Forever. This goal for improvement will never end.
We don't think of it as story "telling", as much as story "sharing". Stories to learn and understand, and then share alongside those we share stories of. A collaborative thing. Listening and learning together.
There is inevitably subjectivity and/or bias in the way any storyteller (whether it is the person telling one's own story or another telling it) tells a story, as we all must make choices in filming, writing, and editing.
Our goal is to have a bias towards inspiring wonder and a bias towards inspiring curiosity. Not a bias towards judgment.
Curiosity over judgment.
It's hard, though. Well, it's really nearly impossible to do this perfectly. And we know we're far from perfect. There is a lot to figure out on this over time. Since we're a small team on a small budget, it's tough to make the overall dream of content diversity possible just yet.
Someday, a student or teacher will pick a place on the map or pick a topic or pick a profession or pick basically any filter you can think of, and you'll find stories that were made with curiosity, empathy, and compassion.
We're just not there yet on quantity. We have the network to make it happen and are working towards that, but, well, it's kinda expensive to make high quality stuff and we refuse to lower the quality bar.
"Where" matters. We believe How matters just as much, and sometimes more.
Though we don't have an exact process and the story diversity isn't "perfect" -- when we look at the breakdown of types of stories about various topics or regions, for example -- we find it is the HOW, not just the WHAT, that makes this content unique, diverse, inclusive, and overall magical.
Let's break that down:
Even if we could check every box today -- have stories from every country tagged to every topic you can imagine -- we could still unintentionally forward judgment and the danger of a single story.
We could still forward bias or moral superiority or people feeling pity for other people or cultures.
We could still accidentally be reinforcing stereotypes or judgments people have about people who look different or are from a different place in the world or in one's own city. After all, we are conditioned to believe a lot of untrue and dangerous things growing up.
To really make sense out of this, let's zoom out for a second and look at an example:
The person writing this text you are reading is brown. I am Indian (south asian).
To think that classrooms anywhere (including even in India) engaging with stories from India may feel pity or "we need to help the farmer that we're learning about" -- this pains me.
It is not an individual student's "fault" for having this feeling when watching a brown person on a farm. It is our society's fault -- especially those with the power and privilege to change this narrative, and who actively don't act on this responsibility -- for somehow having a child be able to think this when seeing only visuals of a person farming. Why does this thought even come to mind, only for certain roles in society or certain ways a person looks?
This kind of savior mentality is dangerous, harmful, and keeps the embers of racism burning bright to keep the flames of racism roaring around the world. To keep injustice, inequity, divisiveness, and hate alive.
So it is important that -- alongside content diversity -- there is content depth. Story. Story to SHOW students and educators that this person is not asking for help, is not looking for saving, and is sharing some slices of his / her / their story with you in your classroom.
The person featured in the story is not here to ask you to help -- instead, the person is sharing a story to help us all learn. To understand. To further develop curiosity. To practice math. To empathize. To understand a new perspective and way of living in our vast world. To access deep, gut-level wonder inside ourselves.
"Diverse" on the surface isn't enough. "Inclusive" of new regions isn't enough. How we encourage learning and curiosity across all of these stories is what we believe matters MOST.
That's why we create the lesson plans and written narratives that we do. To intentionally make the practice of wonder, curiosity, empathy, understanding, and compassion into a habit and our preferred choice over judgment and bias. To open our minds and hearts and souls to new ways of engaging with ourselves, one another, and our world.
And to do so in a way that supports educators and parents in seeing, too, that the purpose of these stories is not to encourage a savior mentality or to perpetuate stereotypes and judgments about people across lines of difference.
The purpose of our work is to promote love, peace, equity, justice, and deeper understanding of self, others, and our world.
From the very beginning and every step of the way, we've been thinking deeply about how to design this content.
We focus on creating content that deeply encourages curiosity before, during, and after judgment. Curiosity over judgment.
We ALL make judgments. The big journey for us all (yes, all of us adults too!) is to become aware of those judgments and start to become curious about it all. That's a big step on the journey to coming together and being WE.
It's not solely about if we tick all those boxes off in every region and about every topic. It's about how we facilitate learning that focuses on curiosity and wonder and humility and compassion. It's about how we encourage deep thought and introspection.
It's about HOW we encourage you(th) to open our hearts and minds, rather than letting any of these stories further reinforce our judgments and biases.
Because, well, it's pretty easy to look at basically anything or anyone on the planet and settle into our comfortable judgments about others and ourselves.
What makes Better World Ed unique is not our content diversity alone. It's the principles we strive to live by and strive to encourage in every aspect of the content WE create together.
Learn more about this on our What We Do page. The wordless videos, written stories, or lesson plans on their own aren't the magic. It's when they all come together -- and across many unique stories -- that the real magic becomes more possible.