On a rainy afternoon in Somerset, UK, the authors of the recently published educational resource and illustrated children's story held a quaint book launch in the countryside. Using the outdoor space and farm shop of The Good Life Projects (run by Craig), parents and children looked through the book, "Follow Your Heart: the school for multipotentialites", and had fruitful conversations on the importance of emotional and ecological education.
The original idea of the book stemmed from the illustrator's frustrations with the Western education system which does not do a sufficient job at nurturing emotions and multiple talents in young children and adolescents. Valentina Russo (illustrator and co-author) wrote the original manuscript (in Italian) nearly 10 years ago, with the title "Sigue a tu corazón"— meaning "follow your heart" in Spanish. The book came to life during the latter half of 2022 when Valentina, Margherita Poto (research professor at University of Turin and UiT The Arctic University of Norway), and Emily Murray (global health researcher) translated and built upon the original manuscript and idea. Through countless hours of Zoom meetings and voice notes to brain-heart storm, the original manuscript developed into a 3-part educational resource with a diverse target audience: children, educators and researchers. The first part is an illustrated children's story by Emily Murray and illustrated by Valentina Russo, based on a character named Cora, who feels the pressure of "what do you want to be when you grow up?" because of her multiple interests and talents. The story helps to introduce one of the main themes of the over book: multipotentiality. The second part of the resource is directed towards educators (teachers, librarians, etc.) and researchers, which contains the evidence-based research underlying the main concepts that the book promotes (emotional education, multilingualism, outdoor learning, etc.). The final part of the book is a co-created Activities chapter with contributions from various educators to act as a guide or inspiration for educators who wish to instil a Follow Your Heart philosophy in their classrooms.
At the first book launch and creativity workshop, Valentina and Margherita spent 3 hours talking about the book, ideas for the future, and listened intently while parents and children expressed their feelings on the themes of the book (unfortunately, Emily couldn't make it to the first event but she was there in spirit from Marseille, FR). The children busied themselves with a self-directed arts and crafts activtiy which was a pleasure to watch— it is amazing how creative and imaginative children are which are capabilities we believe should be fostered throughout primary and secondary school (and even higher education).
In the end, the overall feedback from the guests was very positive and motivating to continue further developing content and resources relating to Follow Your Heart. The next book launch event will happen in Turin, Italy with a special guest— Jorinde Green, owner of LaLa Land and contributor to the co-created Activities chapter in our book!