Build (Learning) Back Better

Diahann Hughes Hawkins
3 min readJun 18, 2020
by Zara Hawkins using Procreate (iPad) 2020

Take a moment to think of what new skills and habits you have formed since this global pandemic first changed our lives irreversibly? Like so many other people in lockdown around the world, I picked up new tools for my skills set both out of necessity and because I had more time to learn. Skills such as how to cook with dried beans without poisoning my family, grow vegetables anywhere that light can reach, colour & style hair, edit films in iMovies and cook processed food-free meals. My children also picked up new life skills such as how to cook an entire family dinner on their own, create electronic music, produce beautiful art and build a new website. Without fully realising it, we have all adapted ourselves in this exceptional time and most likely will continue to do so in the foreseeable future.

Until now, ‘Learning’ has largely been defined as a process that happens in school buildings while listening to specially trained teachers in front of a classroom. Yet a broader definition of Learning is emerging as a process of growth in knowledge and skills from interaction with the world around us. Learning happens when there is a curiosity and/or need to adapt to our environment, and can be facilitated by parents, friends or even YouTubers. The danger of placing these life skills & interests in the category of ‘hobbies’ and ‘extra-curricular’ is that they become less relevant in our minds than the pure academic knowledge that gets most of the focus within our educational establishments.

We now have a unique chance to bring a more balanced approach to the way we provide education for our children, if we can only expand this definition of Learning. Now that overcrowded school buildings have been carved up to enable social distancing, and many teachers are being limited to teaching in a virtual setting, there is an urgent need to change how we define and structure learning environments. As children are staying at home with their parents (their first teacher, by the way) more than ever before, learning by doing seems to be the most practical and least stressful approach that has been working for many families.

In our home we’ve been doing educational projects based on personal interest such as Plastic Pollution, and my role has been to find the resources to supplement that learning as it is needed. Granted that has been much…

Diahann Hughes Hawkins

Researcher, reformer and home educating mother with a passion for discovering the best solutions to 21st century learning.