There are five places in the world known as “Blue Zones” where people live happier, healthier, and longer lives. What can we learn from these Blue Zones and apply to learning and growth environments in schools and organizations? This blog explores the concept of creating “Blue Learning Zones” and its potential impact on education.
The Changing World and Education:
With ongoing changes such as climate change, migration, robotics, and artificial intelligence, the world is in a constant state of flux. Imagine if we had the opportunity to completely transform the education system without any constraints. In light of this, we ask: How can education become a catalyst for positive change? What can we learn from the Blue Zones and their principles of healthier, happier living? How can we create a more sustainable world?
Seven Principles of Blue Learning Zones:
In this blog, we will review and condense the nine factors of the Blue Zones into seven interconnected principles. These principles can be translated into models and learning strategies applicable in educational settings. Some examples:
- Purpose: Moving towards a sustainable society: Education should prioritize the creation of a sustainable society by balancing responsible economic growth, fair social progress, and effective environmental protection. It involves not only acquiring knowledge and skills but also fostering the attitude and moral compass necessary to drive essential changes.
- Natural Movement: Inspired by the Blue Zones, learning environments should promote natural movement. Instead of adhering to a rigid system, we should embrace inspiring physical learning spaces that incorporate activities like sports, play, dance, drama, and excursions. Research shows that involvement in sports and other activities correlates with improved mental well-being.
- Minimizing Stress: Stepping out of one’s comfort zone and embracing challenges are crucial aspects of learning. By cultivating strategies that help reduce stress and enhance focus, understanding, and resilience, we can create optimal learning conditions. The concept of Building Learning Power by Professor Guy Claxton offers valuable insights in this regard.
- 80% Rule: Similar to the Blue Zones’ practice of mindful eating, learning should not overload the brain. Taking regular short breaks and allowing time for information to sink in is essential. Applying the principles of Cognitive Load Theory, we can optimize learning by understanding the limitations of working memory and implementing effective learning strategies.
- Care for Self and Others: Just as the Blue Zones emphasize healthy eating and drinking habits, we should prioritize self-care, physical activity, and sufficient rest in learning environments. Schools can contribute by providing nutritious meals, promoting healthy lifestyles, and empowering students to take ownership of their learning. The social aspect, including belonging to a supportive community, also plays a vital role.
Creating Blue Learning Zones involves embracing principles such as purpose-driven education, natural movement, stress reduction, mindful learning, and caring for oneself and others. By incorporating these principles into educational practices, we can foster positive change, enhance well-being, and cultivate a more sustainable world. Let’s re-imagine education and create environments that empower learners to thrive and contribute to a better future
Drs. Anton de Vries