Mr. Jason Cohen is currently an Advisor and Part-Time Lecturer for KIDsforSDGs in Hong Kong. He is an advocate for the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), and is a mentor to young pioneers and changemakers on achieving measurable impact in their local communities. One of the programs he consults for is the Young Changemaker Incubator, which not only teaches kids thematic subject matter, empowering them to become the generation that turns the tide on so many social, economic, and environmental problems, but also exercises traditional core modalities – reading, writing, and public speaking – while building new ones, like project management. At KIDsforSDGs, he is a co-curator of the ASCEND program which seeks to democratize quality education for sustainable development through inclusion-led learning modules.
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Why did you become an educator?
Simple! I love learning, so for me, it just comes naturally to want to share that. Sharing learning is teaching.
What is your definition of an educator?
Anyone who shares knowledge with people who don’t know it and who do so on a regular basis.
What have been some of the ways educators in your network have led in these times of crisis?
They’ve just taken a really flexible, at-cause approach. What do we need to do to adapt to the present circumstances and still effectively transmit the knowledge? It’s been a test of perseverance and creativity to advance social impact, and over and over again, youth have proven to be resilient against adversity!
How do you reimagine the future for educators?
We need to find a way to use technology to scale teaching while preserving what really works – in-person human interactions and personalized attention. Technology is allowing for the democratization of learning, the ability to spread even the most obscure knowledge almost anywhere. Yet, the “reach” that technology provides doesn’t mean “penetration.” The best way from my experience at KIDsforSDGs is to really instill knowledge is to build trust and a personal rapport with the student. There must be a way to preserve or even enhance that element alongside the technology. Using something like a STEMxSDG framework as a vehicle will engage students’ minds in solving some big global challenges, like this very one – the future of education.
If you could teach your dream lesson, what would it look like?
A small group of kids in an amazing natural setting, immersed in the subject matter at hand. It would be a multi-day, multi-modality immersion program involving visual, auditory and kinetic learning. The group size would be small enough to allow for personalized attention but large enough to foster a social experience. There would be a mixture of instruction and self-directed learning, like what we do in YCI. This puts the onus of responsibility on the students while giving them support and direction.