Research & FAQs
Learn more about how we think about all of these big questions and some powerful research, too!
"What is Integrated Social and Emotional Learning (SEL)?"
"Why are the videos wordless?" Why stories?"
"Why video? Aren't videos a passive way of learning?"
"How much do we contribute for these resources?"
"What resources are included when I join?"
"What do you mean by global literacy?"
"What do you mean by empathy?"
"What about Creativity? Collaboration? Grit? Curiosity? Growth Mindset? Don't these matter?!"
"How can we get started today?"
"Isn't this mission a bit risky?"
"What is Integrated
Social & Emotional Learning (SEL)?"
We love this question! In short, it's the future of school.
Read about how we think about SEL and integrating SEL with Academics in our blog!
We believe SEL can't live in a silo. We also believe academic subject matter can't either.
So the real-world problem solving that children engage with in our content makes it possible to practice
math, empathy, social awareness, curiosity, question-asking, communication, collaboration, creativity, perspective taking, kindness, compassion, and literacy at the same time!
That makes kids really curious about, well, all aspects of learning. Research shows this is the skeleton key.
A lot of our work is based around what we've learned from the science around social and emotional development. CASEL, Character Lab, and the Greater Good Science Center are examples. We think it matters that brain science shows how important integrating SEL with academics is.
Still curious? Great! Hear Dr. Tony Wagner share more below!
"Why are the videos wordless?"
When we sit down at a meeting or walk into class, there is no voiceover telling us who other people are, what they're thinking, or what they're feeling. We have to wonder. We have to engage.
Yet too often we make a judgment — about other people, cultures, and ways of life — instead of remaining curious. This judgment and prejudice starts by age 3, before most kids can even read.
Wordless videos can help kids value and act on their curiosity about other people, perspectives, and ways of life early in life and every day. And that's showing to matter for academic learning, too.
Wordless stories have been shown to boost curiosity and engagement, to improve reading comprehension and academic learning, and to help students explore topics that matter to them. These benefits are showing to be interconnected: fostering curiosity and a sense of purpose is fundamental for a student’s academic success, and early math and reading success is a strong predictor of long term success. New research is also showing that curiosity building can play a huge role in a student's overall academic learning.
We live in stories. We learn through stories. We wonder through stories. Telling us how to think or what to think or why just isn't exciting. Empathy doesn't stick if you tell somebody to be empathetic. Showing is key.
Stories move people to action, and engaging content is SO important for kids today.
Plus, in a world of ads and messages screaming at us, taking out the words is just kinda refreshing.
See for yourself:
Aren't videos a passive way of learning?"
We wondered that at first, too. Research and testing/experiences showed us another way.
What makes these videos unique is that they're wordless. When they're wordless, they spark curiosity. When curiosity is sparked about people and cultures, it creates a great space for curiosity to grow about the people within the same classroom.
And as that happens more and more, not only do students begin to wonder and inference about the content they're seeing -- they begin to wonder and ask about the people in the room. It's active learning in every way.
"How much do we contribute for the
Better World Ed resources?"
That's up to you!
Learn more about Our Pricing Philosophy.
We're so grateful you asked! :)
"What Resources Are Included When I Join?"
Weaving Videos And Stories With Academic Concepts
We build friendly one page lesson idea sheets (look to the left, to the left) about each story and video that help you engage your class and meet your academic goals.
Real world problem solving that helps us understand new perspectives
while learning math and literacy!
Each video is paired with 3-4 stories about the person's family, backstory, and work.
Here we begin to challenge our assumptions, and we begin to further understand a new person's unique perspective.
We all know it's healthy to flex our empathy muscles.
This is how we do it.
The best part? Everyone we make stories about is pumped about youth becoming more empathetic, globally aware people!
Ignite And Fuel Curiosity In An Exciting, Engaging Way
When we sit down at a meeting or walk into class, there is no voiceover telling us who other people are, what they're thinking, or what they're feeling. We have to wonder. We have to engage. Yet too often we make a judgment — about other people, cultures, and ways of life — instead of remaining curious. This judgment and prejudice starts by age 3, before most kids can even read. Wordless videos can help us value and act on our curiosity about other people, perspectives, and ways of life early in life and every day.
Global Literacy Deep Dives
Zooming Out To Learn About Global Systems And Our Interconnectedness
In the "Global Literacy Deep Dives", you'll find:
1) curated videos and quick quizzes;
2) big thematic questions, ideas, and mini social enterprise case studies to guide exploration, discussion, and action steps;
3) an overview of the core purpose of each topic and the interconnections between topics and Empathy Challenges.
These are great resources to leverage when you're ready to learn more about global systems after using an Empathy Challenge. When students share they want to lead change, this is a great place to go to learn more about the world before and during those students engage. It's not just about taking action -- we have to understand our ecosystem with our minds and hearts if we want to be as effective as possible.
When we think about literacy, we are thinking of not just "learning to read", but "reading to learn".
Thinking critically about everything in us and around us. Thinking about what's inside, not just what's on the surface -- of people, things, products, services, cultures, messaging, etc.
We think of global literacy as a journey, not an end.
Not just learning about the world as a finite process, but continually seeking new understanding in a way that enables us to effectively connect with one another in a rapidly-adapting world.
To develop the ability to think critically about our interconnectedness, our interdependence, our complex local and global systems, and our future as a species on this planet (and maybe beyond).
The problem solving featured throughout Empathy Challenges supports this kind of learning in a natural way, similar to when people talk about building entrepreneurial skills.
We think of empathy as the journey of understanding the unique perspectives and qualities and feelings and dreams and desires and challenges of ourselves and one another. What makes us uniquely complex and beautiful? What inextricably connects us? What are we feeling? What are we thinking?
It's more than stepping into the shoes of another. It's stepping into the hearts, the heads, the eyes.. you know, everything!
In a way, it's like mindfulness at a personal, interpersonal, and collective level.
Empathy is the challenging practice of keeping our curiosity and wonder alive and kicking. (Tweet!)
The problem solving featured throughout Empathy Challenges supports this kind of learning in a natural way.
"What about Creativity? Collaboration? Grit? Curiosity? Growth Mindset?
Don't these matter?!"
All of these practices, values, and mindsets matter SO much.
The Empathy Challenges (stories, videos, and lesson plans) are designed in a way to bring about the practice of all the things that make humans beautiful and amazing.
The toolkit is designed around the lives, experiences, and perspectives of unique humans around the world. So every value, character trait, competency, and practice finds its way seamlessly into the curriculum just like these values and character traits find their way into the people we meet in our lives. Through going on this global journey as students, we are able to learn about each value/trait in action in someone's life, and then we can reflect and evaluate how that connects with our lives and other students' lives.
When schools sign up, they can see how we tag those values and mindsets to make lesson plans easier to locate not just by academic topic, but by SEL/character focuses as well.
Hear Dr. Tony Wagner share his perspective on all of the above:
"How Can We Get Started Today?"
There are so many ways educators are using these resources in their classrooms. We encourage you to browse around the spreadsheet that we share once you sign up on the site -- this spreadsheet has a ton of resources to expand on those shared in the "Empathy Challenge Kits" section of this site.
We're also beginning to put together videos showcasing different use cases.
Here is an example below:
Okay, so this one isn't frequent. But it's something we'd like to address.
Sometimes people ask about the risks of teaching kids empathy and global literacy from a young age.
We didn't expect this, and have been thrown off by that question before. "Risk" isn't the word that comes to mind for us. It's fascinating though, because this question speaks to how differently we all can see the world.
It has been a powerful and challenging exercise in practicing empathy to think about this question!
Regardless of where the question comes from, it indeed is asked sometimes:
"But wait, what happens when millions of people are aware and globally literate and empathetic, compassionate beings? Couldn't that shift our social construct in huge, unpredictable ways?"
Well, yes. It could.
And though there's no proof that it will, we damn well hope it does.
The story of our world could use a beautiful new chapter right about now.
To us, the risk is in what comes if kids don't grow up this way.
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© 2013-2018 BetterWorldEd.org, a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit corporation.
The Fine Print:
Using these Empathy Challenges may encourage the consistent desire to be mindful, empathize with others, understand new perspectives, think critically, act creatively, collaborate with others, learn about the world, and to pursue a life focused on leading positive change in our world. We find that tends to happen a good bit.
For best results: Use Early in Life, Every Day, and Everywhere.
Please don't refrain from opening your heart, mind, and arms to new people, perspectives, and possibilities.