Fostering the adaptive creative thinker in every child

To succeed in today’s knowledge-based and creative society, children must learn to think creatively, plan systematically, analyse critically, work collaboratively, communicate clearly, design iteratively, and, above all, learn continuously. Unfortunately, most uses of technologies today do not support these 21st-century learning skills. They conform to the old learning framework: you learn something when the right type of information is provided to you.

Most educational companies trying to solve this problem are only scratching the surface. They create fun products that will lead children to discover, for example, the rules of arithmetic or grammar. But being made to discover what someone else wants you to discover is not exactly the most innovative learning experience. And it will not make any difference in education.

Now, childrens’ magazines are changing. And media professionals recognise the difference. For example, our magazine, Timbuktu, was awarded the best children’s magazine of the year 2013 at the Digital Magazine Awards in London, on 26th November 2013. What makes this magazine so special is that it does not disguise learning with fun but, instead, engages children in exploring and confronting powerful ideas. It thus prepares them as adaptive creative thinkers and help them to become the leaders of tomorrow’s society.

The magazine puts news at the centre of the learning experience. News has historically been one of the most empowering tools for citizens across the world. Yet it is usually only designed for grown-ups. With our magazine, children are challenged to learn math, science, and grammar while reading and interacting with the most interesting news and events from all over the world. What is the big census of India? What is the NSA scandal? Why are we sending the car-sized robotic rover Curiosity to Mars?

Our approach is to always respect children and treat them as peers. Each story is designed to spark and challenge their creativity. The science stories, in particular, encourage them to learn through experience, and to use imagination as a tool to know and change the world.

In the latest issue, called the Wild Issue, for example, children can learn about the importance of wildlife and reintroducing wild life to abandoned territories through games, animated stories and activities. They can discover the most beautiful natural parks in Europe and get answers to many questions, which even their parents might not know about: how to prevent wildfires with wildlife; where you can find wild cattle and horses; where is the largest population of bison in the wild; where will beavers, bison and red deer soon be brought back to nature and how to tell a wild animal from a domestic animal.

We collaborate with the EU Universe Awarness program on topics related to astronomy and the wonders of cosmos. We also have an interactive laboratory that, each month, engages children around a different science experiment. They can first play with it in the magazine and then try it at home.

Our overall mission is to nurture a generation of girls and boys who are more confident, courageous, and critical – giving them a real opportunity to become creative thinkers and active citizens of the 21st century.

Elena Favilli

Founder and CEO Timbuktu

Go back to the Special Issue: The future of science education

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