On January 30, 2024, Luminos convened leading education experts to explore the power of Joyful Learning to drive better learning outcomes for children. The LinkedIn Live webinar featured insights from Dr. Kwame Akyeampong of the Open University, Dr. Bo Stjerne Thomsen of LEGO Education, and Caitlin Baron from the Luminos Fund. Watch the webinar for valuable reflections and read on for three key recommendations from the discussion.
Dr. Kwame Akyeampong, Professor of International Education and Development, Open University
Dr. Bo Stjerne Thomsen, Head of Educational Impact, LEGO Education
Caitlin Baron, CEO, Luminos Fund
Watch the webinar below:
Key speaker recommendations include:
1) Develop Joyful Learning on the Foundation of a Safe and Inclusive Environment
The well-being of students is paramount for joyful learning. Luminos CEO, Caitlin Baron, emphasizes this, stating, “We always emphasize that…learning of any kind really cannot happen until we can provide children with a safe and inclusive learning environment.” Ensuring staff and partners are well-trained, educating students about their rights, and promoting healthy practices are all critical components of ensuring student well-being.
2) Develop a Meaningful Program of Study
Meeting students where they are with culturally relevant materials is a cornerstone of the Luminos approach. “A meaningful program of study…connects with these children’s interests and background,” says Dr. Kwame Akyeampong, underscoring the need to tailor education to the child’s learning level and cultural context.
Caitlin Baron adds that “the lack of resources doesn’t actually need to change the pedagogy, it just needs to change the materials and the modality.” This lesson challenges educators to adapt their teaching methods to the resources available without compromising on the quality of pedagogy.
“A meaningful program of study…connects with these children’s interests and background.”
Dr. Kwame Akyeampong
As a Luminos Board member, Dr. Kwame Akyeampong has observed that Luminos classrooms are “a very rich, stimulating environment. It is something that strikes you immediately.” To promote joyful learning, educators should create spaces that are vibrant and connected to the students’ community and experiences, using materials and resources that resonate with their backgrounds. A classroom where “there is a lot of movement, hand movement, a lot of talking” is one where joyful learning thrives, as described by Dr. Akyeampong.
“The lack of resource doesn’t actually need to change the pedagogy, it just needs to change the materials and the modality.”
3) Employ an Engaging Pedagogy
Luminos uses “a range of fun and engaging teaching methods,” an essential practice for student interaction and empowerment.
Dr. Bo Stjerne Thomsen contributes to this point, saying, “Happiness is fundamental to learning. But the reality is when you are going to prioritize it, it is very difficult when you are faced with a stressed, highly competitive, and often resource-constrained environment.” An engaging pedagogy is designed not just for fun, but also to empower students to experience success, voice their opinions, and grow in confidence. By incorporating these principles into teaching strategies, teachers can cultivate an atmosphere where learning is not just an obligation, but a joyful and empowering journey for every learner.
Students in Ethiopia have fun during writing practice. (Photo: Mekbib Tadesse for the Luminos Fund)
Dr. Bo Stjerne Thomsen speaks further to the importance of collaborative learning environments, “We know that children learn when they can share ideas, they collaborate, observe each other.” A joyful learning environment is one where interaction is encouraged, and everyone—teachers and students alike—contributes to and benefits from shared learning experiences.
“We know that children learn when they can share ideas, they collaborate, observe each other.”
Dr. Bo Stjerne Thomsen
Caitlin Baron adds to this, suggesting that a learning environment which allows children to “thrive is a real foundation for everything that comes after.” When students feel heard and are given the chance to succeed, their confidence and enjoyment in learning naturally increase.