Helping students adapt when coming back to school from the pandemic

Whether now or in the future, students are going to return to school & they need support to understand how to best adapt & move forward. Prosocial is a process for cultural evolutionary change that can help & the science behind Prosocial provides content that engages young minds ⎮2 min 50 sec read

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By Dustin Eirdosh

In countries around the world, now or in the near future, a great experiment is about to begin in the re-opening of schools amidst the continuing global pandemic. To be sure, there are mixed opinions on the ethics and practicality of bringing students and teachers together again within the close confines of classrooms, hallways, and cafeterias. One point we can all agree on however, is that when schools do re-open, educators need tools to help students (and colleagues, and parents) adapt and navigate the difficult emotions and new environments we are all facing.

In discussing this challenge with one of our local teacher collaborators, I recommended she check out the work of Dr. Paul Atkins and the Prosocial process for working better, together (see videos and links below).  Since the decision to open schools here (in Germany) was made relatively recently, she has limited time to prepare, yet she found the simplicity of the Prosocial Matrix process a helpful way to have the conversations she feels are important, and to help students develop the social-emotional skills needed to engage the complexities of the so-called "new normal". 

Prosocial is a group facilitation process that integrates current scientific perspectives in evolution, cooperation, and contextual behavioural sciences to help individuals and groups align individual and collective interests around shared values. In simple terms, Prosocial provides the tools for groups to create the social conditions where prosocial behaviors (towards ourselves and others) can thrive. 

Many people use words such as “evolve” and “adapt” in the vernacular to describe their need for positive change, but Prosocial is distinctively based on the actual science of change—evolutionary science—which goes beyond the study of genetic evolution to include personal and cultural evolution." 
- David Sloan Wilson, The Evolution Institute

The Prosocial.World community is now developing an international network of educators and education professionals, many of whom are already using elements of Prosocial within diverse educational contexts. In our work at GlobalESD.org we support educators in the foundations of the Prosocial process, but we have also developed a wide range of open education resources that can help students engage in the science behind Prosocial. In this way - the cultural evolution of cooperation can serve as both content and context for educational innovation. Never has there been a more important time to create the space for students to understand and engage in the prosocial aspects of the human condition. Learn more below and connect with us if you have questions or further interest in using Prosocial in your school. 

Introduction to using Prosocial and the Matrix in the Covid-19 Context

Dr. Paul Atkins will walk you through some of the basics of one of the tools of Prosocial, the Matrix, which is a tool to elicit individual or collective values, and observe and shape our behaviours toward what matters. 

After you are familiar with the Matrix for individuals, explore how whole groups can use this tool to make sense of the Covid-19 situation. Dr. Atkins video is geared towards families, but teachers can easily transfer the lesson to the 'school family' with little modification.



Further Reading and Resources

Go to the profile of Global ESD

Global ESD

Educational innovation and curriculum design, in cooperation with the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology

Global ESD works internationally to support sustainability education initiatives that connect concepts in human evolution, behavioral ecology, and sustainability science. By linking scientific perspectives on social change with students and classrooms seeking to make the world a better place, our aim is to foster a more global discussion about where we are going in the light of where we all have come from. Our work is done in close collaboration with the Department of Comparative Cultural Psychology at the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig, Germany. Primary contributors to this blog community are Dustin Eirdosh & Susan Hanisch

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