Values: Empathy, Hope, Compassion, Responsibility, Equality, Acceptance, Pride... the list goes on!
Lyfta is not a book, but an online, immersive learning platform. There is no way I cannot include it on the blog after experiencing it twice this weekend - once through the Values Based Education conference and once through the Diverse Ed conference. I have been absolutely sold and I guarantee you will be too!
This statement, taken from the Lyfta website, gives an excellent summary of the concept of the platform: "Lyfta was founded by award-winning filmmaker couple Serdar Ferit and Paulina Tervo in 2016, with the desire to inspire future generations to make a positive impact in the world. Lyfta’s platform was created to support teachers in tackling complex themes and topics with the best tools to introduce different global phenomena in the classroom.
Lyfta is currently used in hundreds of schools in the UK and Finland. Our mission is to have an immersive story from every single country in the world on our platform, accessible to a global audience."
During the VBE conference this weekend, Serdar passionately talked us through how Lyfta has connected over 100,000 children to a real humans with real stories to tell all over the world. We saw for ourselves how pupils can visit Awra Amba village in Ethiopia where the inhabitants have created a self-sufficient, successful lifestyle for themselves and they can see inside their schools, visitor centres and around their homes. Pupils can watch as plastic pollution on the coast of England is recycled and reused into beautiful artwork. They can engage with families in Palestine, in Turkey, in Burkina Faso and in the Philippines, to name but a few.
Lyfta allows children insights into what real people's lives are like in every corner of the world in the most empowering way. Their storyworlds enable pupils who come from those countries to feel a connection whilst sat in their (English) classroom; it also enables those who have never travelled, and may not be able to, to experience the world too. They can explore homes, schools, villages, lifestyles in 360 degrees and complete carefully designed activities to guide their research and reflections. I personally loved the 'clickable' people where you could then watch their story told using high-quality video as I felt I was there with them. I think children would feel the same. The stories allow pupils to see abstract concepts of Values in concrete, real ways. Humans showing their confidence, positivity, hope, compassion and responsibility give real meaning to Values that can be hard for young children to grasp.
Lyfta challenges stereotypes by showing pupils joy, resilience and courage in parts of the world that may be negatively perceived in the media. It gives voice to men and women equally and promotes equality for all. I truly believe Lyfta would enhance every single day in the primary and secondary classroom whether it be through Assemblies, PSHCE, Values-based teaching, Geography, Citizenship, Computing, Music etc. The real stories that pupils watch through short and accessible video clips allow pupils to empathise with people they may see as different to themselves. The stories are honest and not patronising, and I feel this is really important. Children of all ages would be able to access the content through the audio and visual text and images. Skilled film-makers have travelled the Earth to bring humanity to life and connect people around the world on Lyfta.
In addition, I really loved how everyone watching the storyworlds would interpret them in different ways - bringing their own understanding of the Values to the discussions and picking out key messages that they found powerful. Lyfta is a great way of also training staff and developing their skills in teaching complex global issues such as poverty, (in)equality, ethical living, sustainability and (in)justice. The films and digital content is so sensitive and natural that it does not feel like it is made for a documentary, but that you are invited into the scene yourself. I believe that children have an engrained curiosity about the world, people and the environment and Lyfta gives them a platform to be able to explore places that may be otherwise inaccessible to them and their families. Children can understand through Lyfta that they can be the change that the world needs - they are valuable and important no matter which country they live in and what size house they have.
As you can tell, I have fallen in LOVE with this amazing concept. I will be pushing every school I know to engage with Lyfta and the good news is that state schools in the UK can access a free trial (with training) including access to lesson plans and assemblies! There is genuinely no reason not to try it out. A great trailer is also available on the Lyfta homepage or Youtube. There are emotive videos on the Lyfta website where students, teachers, senior leaders talk of their experiences with Lyfta and the value it has brought to their schools. There is also a powerful video explaining how pupils with SEN have engaged with the concept too.
Have a look at Lyfta yourself - I have tried to convey my enthusiasm and passion for it, but feel the website will offer you a much richer experience still. These are a FEW of the Values I could attribute to this wonderful platform, and which you can link up to books on my blog: