One of our flagship programmes here at PIE, is the ‘Future Ready’ Programme. The main aim being that we are preparing students for a future they may not quite be ready for. And yet, here we are in 2020, and many of us ‘functioning adults’ are nowhere near prepared for what may or may not be coming! We don’t want to sound gloomy or pessimistic, quite the opposite. We’d like to point out that if there’s one thing we can all agree on, it’s that every single one of us has had to adapt in the last few months. Whether it’s to remote teaching and learning, home schooling, working, online food shopping or the fact that Eastenders now just looks a bit weird! We are all showing our own skills to adopt change and be flexible.
The Future Ready Programme is a programme designed to develop five key skills. We refer to these as the slices of the PIE, and they are: digital, project management, communication, community and cultural capital.
So, let’s see how we’re doing by our own measure – in which slices have we shown our resilience and adaptability? We’d love to hear yours too – please write to us/ comment with your own experiences!
· Had you ever heard of Zoom before lockdown? Most of us hadn't either! However, since Match we’ve had work meetings, class meetings, tea parties, family quizzes, cook-alongs, bingo and pizza night, all via the magic of Zoom. Equal parts exhausting and a lifeline!
· Maybe you used Facetime or Whatsapp video to keep in touch with parents, grandparents and other family and friends. Well, to keep in touch with their foreheads at least. It was so important to us to have those chats over dinner together (even if our younger relatives enjoyed pressing the red button and saying 'bye bye!' a little too much...)
· After abandoning one of our favourite hobbies, shopping, we at long last had to embrace exclusive online shopping. We’ve never known our delivery drivers so well.
- Digital collaboration - one thing that has saved our sanity during lockdown has been the opportunity to work with so many other organisations to deliver different online programmes and support. We have become a pros at using Dropbox to share documents, Canva to create engaging digital resources, and YouTube to share workshops with our learners!
The juggle. Whether you’ve got a houseful full of people or not, there have been times where we’ve all had to juggle numerous things recently:
· Zoom chats
· Food shopping
· Cooking meals
· Baking banana bread
· Starting a new hobby
· Avoiding / Watching ever-changing news
Personally, making a bit of head space to plan a few activities to do at home was the only way to manage our time effectively. Timing and planning basic home baking/ messy activities for when the small one was napping, and making time for school stuff for the big one. Then, games and activities to entertain them together later. Small things, but without the thinking beforehand it would have descended into chaos! Project Managing a whole family of people to live, work and learn under one roof successfully (and in harmony!) was perhaps one of the most complex projects we have ever managed!
Whilst we were perhaps not able to explore the world, or have some of the experiences we had expected in 2020 (be that fly across the world for a once in a lifetime trip, or having to cancel a family trip to the theatre), we have all learned to experience the wider world from our own homes.
As well as the influx of documentaries and online learning resources, there has been a phenomenal amount of experiences made available online. One of the big positives was the opening up of online gallery visits, which saw big art collections available to be viewed online, in some cases for the very first time. You could find yourself on a virtual safari or visiting famous landmarks. All from the comfort of your own home! Did you wander round the Louvre or explore the streets of Cape Town through your computer screen during lockdown?
And was there ever a more perfect time to take up a new hobby or catch up on some reading? There have been an amazing array of online courses to take part in for free, or instructional videos to help teach you a new skill or hobby.
It’s also fair to say we have all developed a much wider understanding of the world and how we are all connected. We can all appreciate the things that are on our doorstep, be it green spaces, cycle routes or take-aways!
Again, it's easy to link straight to Zoom and talk about the different ways we connected digitally with people who we could no longer see.
However, we did go a bit traditional over here by sending postcards, letters and care packages. We were also into actual phone calls and even swapped walkie talkies with our neighbours! For the kids of course…ahem.
And let’s not forget the window art that most people engaged with in some way over lockdown. It was a simple bit of visual communication; Rainbows, Easter eggs and teddy bears’ picnics featured down our road. How about yours?
That leads neatly into Community. If there has ever been a time to see community spirit in action it was during lockdown. Some were doing shopping for neighbours and vulnerable members of our community. Others were doing front-wall-physically-distant brews, while there were reports of princesses arriving at doorsteps with Birthday messages and wishes to be shared! Not to mention the regular Thursday Clapping for carers, deliveries of hand cream and treats for NHS staff, and the uptake in volunteers for food banks. PIE itself was involved in home deliveries of cooking packages and kids activities to support families in need, as well as working with some of our young people to organise 'The Big Lockdown Event' which saw 50 families in Stockport brought together via online challenges, joint craft activities and even deliveries of afternoon teas!
Let’s also remember we’re part of a global community too. Suddenly, that community was feeling bigger and overwhelming, yet also smaller and more immediate than ever. And while we are cut off physically, we’ve been brought together through this shared experience.
This all tells us, and hopefully shows, that even when we think we have moved on from learning and adapting to ‘real life’ we will still need to find a way to make changes and prepare for the unknown or the new normal. In that way, we will all be ‘Future Ready’.