The ZERI-Learning Initiative
Launched in 1994 at the United Nations University in Japan, ZERI is a network of scientists committed to finding innovative solutions to the pressing problems of our time. Through more effectively utilizing the abundant resources around us, we don't need to expect the earth to produce more. ZERI thus provides a positive way of looking at the world, and our place in it.
In nature, everything has value. Life on earth is organised into five kingdoms - animals, plants, fungus, algae and bacteria - they cooperate to ensure their mutual survival and so generate abundant resources. Whatever is waste for a species of one kingdom, is a resource for another species in another kingdom.
Using this simple, natural principle, ZERI established concrete projects that responded to crises in farming, housing, and health care on four continents. ZERI then analyzed its ability to put their ideas into practice and then decided to share its vision, so that the next generation would never stop dreaming of a better future, and would know how to convert their fantasies to reality.
Children have an innate ability to dream, though their dreams may seem unrealistic to parents and teachers. Yet what parents see as fantasy is very much a reality for the children.
With this philosophy, ZERI created a series of fables that form the starting point of a fascinating learning journey through science. These fables are based on teaching five intelligences to readers: academic knowledge, emotional intelligence, artistic expression, eco-literacy, and the capacity to implement.
Learners of all ages connect best with stories. Stories engage the emotions, and make content memorable. Learning science through stories is unorthodox, but it makes learning science both easy and enjoyable! The fables also present academic knowledge in a way that makes it relevant to daily life - it becomes a tool that children can use creatively when thinking about the challenges and opportunities of the world we live in.
In the modern world, learning that boosts self-esteem while encouraging respect for difference is invaluable. This requires the development of emotional intelligence. Each of the stories contains a guide to the emotional developments of the characters. The stories contain no heroes. Instead, they show us how to be accepting of our weakness and to be aware that we can grow and change while coping with difficult situations. They also show how we have to ability to help others do the same.
An integral part of the ZERI Educational Initiative is the development of artistic expression. As a means of communication, the arts provides the capacity to allow learners to interact with information in a multi sensory way. The arts is a communication tool that goes far beyond words. So many visions are simply not possible to put into words or mathematical formula. A dance or a song can often say it so much better.
ZERI's ability to see and implement solutions is based on an understanding of nature. To pass this ability on to the next generation, the fables are carefully formulated to develop eco-literacy. This is the ability to to understand the patterns and processes through which ecosystems have developed and sustained themselves over billions of years. In order to do this, learners must be able to see connections between seemingly unrelated phenomena. For students to create sustainable communities, they must be able to use the systems inherent in nature as inspiration.
Finally, what would be the use of all of these intelligences if we do not do something with them? We need the capacity to put it all together in order to generate new ideas and concepts. The four intelligences - academic, emotional, artistic, ecological - can be combined so as to create a fifth intelligence: the capacity to implement change.
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