Education experts at UNICEF launch event for "What Makes Me?" report

“What I love about this research is that it is framing up outcomes that are relevant to kids now. Usually, it’s what are the outcomes to be successful down the road as opposed to what is meaningful to kids right now, no matter how old they are,” says Education Reimagined President and Founder Kelly Young reflecting on the recent UNICEF report, “What Makes Me? Core Capacities for Living and Learning.” 

Young is among the roughly 1,000 education stakeholders who participated in the US launch of the report, a meta-analysis of published research that shares the efficacy of a whole-child framework for education.  

Fetzer Senior Program Officer Xiaoan Li notes, “Teachers and students are working so hard and are so stressed. The launch events helped highlight what is emerging in education that is both addressing a deep need and helping reinvigorate and renew education.”

Here is a sampling of insights from launch events that have deepened the conversation about whole child education and the promise it holds for young learners, their families, and society.

  • Children’s well-being is the ultimate goal of education. Or as UNICEF’s Dominic Richardson, author of “What Makes Me?” put it, “Well-being is not about well doing or well becoming, well-being is who we are right now.”  
  • We need to allow children to awaken to their unique human potential. To achieve this, our educational system needs to shift from everyone receiving the same education and expecting the same outcomes to an educational environment that recognizes the vast landscape of individuality and human potential. 
  • Education develops capabilities and competencies in young people; we also need to nurture their innate capacities, such as listening, reflection, and discerning.
  • Building meaningful relationships among all education stakeholders and seeing each other as unique and committed partners in the work of education is essential. How can our approach to education better include children (as students of all ages) as partners in their own educational experience?  

“What Makes Me,” has also importantly revealed a lack of research on the spiritual dimension of learning. A second phase of research will assess what has been published since COVID related to the spiritual aspects of childhood spiritual development.

“This body of work is so important because it is foundational, timely, and relevant,” says Xiaoan Li. “In the past three years, COVID-19 has resulted in extraordinary disruptions to the education landscape and everyone in it has been impacted, students and teachers particularly. I believe time is ripe to bring love into the work of whole child education. Our lived experience, along with a growing number of research studies, have all helped us realize that love heals, and that love- and compassion-based social interactions promote health, healing, and well-being.”

Learn more about the Fetzer Institute’s work in education in this video.


UNICEF logo with "for every child" slogan

The Office of Research – Innocenti is UNICEF’s dedicated research centre. Its core mandate is to undertake cutting-edge, policy-relevant research that equips the organization and the wider global community to deliver results for children. 

Learning for Well-being Foundation logo

At its heart, the Learning for Well-being Foundation is a group of people—team, community, board—who have come together to support a shared vision and the activities that can enliven that vision.  We are committed to manifesting a world where each one of us can participate fully, in a holistic and systemic way, to discover and enrich our unique qualities and experience our common humanity, on the individual and collective level.