Happy Schools video contest: ‘Time traveller’ tale wins top prize
Jeffrey Mang Ka Hei, describes his winning entry in UNESCO Bangkok’s Happy School Video Contest as a parody of Arnold Schwarzenegger’s Terminator, “but this time a student came back in time to learn, not to kill.”
The Hong Kong primary school teacher’s creative vision of a young time traveller from a future when children learn from virtual reality headsets going on a “field trip to the past” to visit a “historic” school was the top selection of dozens of submissions from across Asia-Pacific.
Mang, a teacher at Ma On Shan Ling Liang Primary School, asked his students what they liked best about school. He used their responses to frame the script for his video in which two students impress the time traveller with highlights of 21st Century school life.
UNESCO Bangkok Programme Officer Mark Manns noted that the tour given by the students reflects several of the Happy Schools Criteria: strong friendships and relationships between students and teachers (People); a variety of activities that are fun and engaging for both students and teachers (Process); and how the school is a welcoming, warm and friendly environment (Place).
“It was a creative and clever way to show how someone from the ‘future’ could understand exactly why children were so happy learning how they did,” Manns said. “The joy and happiness of the students came through in the video and was clear that this school really is a ‘Happy School’!”
Mang, 28, who teaches English to students ages 6-12, said the concept for the video was inspired by myriad technological innovations in education, particularly VR. “Doing activities with a headset in virtual reality is no longer a fictional concept. Many scholars say that VR could very likely be the future of education,” he said, adding that while technology is beneficial in the classroom, the human element is also important. “Humans are social animals after all and learning at home with goggles attached to the eyes may not be as good as it [seems].”
The video was chosen from among dozens of submissions from 12 countries across Asia-Pacific, including entries from Fiji to Bangladesh, for best exemplifying the Happy Schools concept. The Happy Schools Project, launched in 2014, aims to promote learner well-being and holistic development in schools. The 2016 report, Happy Schools! A Framework for Learner Well-being in the Asia-Pacific, features 22 criteria on what constitutes a “happy school” and highlights innovative practices form the school level.
Mang’s video underscores one of the key themes of the initiative, which is that in the face of today’s competitive, stress-fuelled and test-focused world, quality education must also nurture learners’ diverse talents and strengths.
As part of his prize, Mang will be flown into Bangkok to present his video and explain its relation to the Happy Schools project at an upcoming UNESCO event in the city.
Also recognized for their outstanding efforts in reflecting the Happy Schools approach were (click on name for video):
Kiran Pai; India: "This video is the effort of 2000 students, 234 faculty and a 108 support staff. Every student, faculty and support staff espouse the school's values of Respect, Integrity, Spirit and Excellence (RISE). In the context of the Happy Schools project, the community of Vidyashilp Academy believes in: learner freedom and creativity, self efficacy that comes from sense of accomplishment, that everyone is a learner, teachers included and finally, striving for inclusiveness so that no one feels left out. "
Francis Albert Mendoza, Philippines: "Our school, the biggest high school in the Schools Division of San Jose City, strives to live up to the vision of the Philippines' Department of Education of graduates who are equipped with 21st Century Skills. San Jose City National High School's workforce, headed by the principal, works for the school to continuously be safe, secure and sanitary for our learners. With these factors at the helm of our public service, our learners continue to be equipped with the skills and competencies they need if they want to go to college, establish their business or find a job. We provide them learning experiences which stimulate and develop their critical thinking, ask more questions and probe possible solutions to the challenges faced by their community. Though our school is still a work in progress, we believe that with the innovations we are implementing we are a happy school indeed."
Nipaporn Arthit, Thailand: This video highlights the importance of mother-tongue based multilingual education in ensuring inclusive and happy classrooms.