The Original Idea
Valentina Russo (illustrator and entrepreneur) wrote the original manuscript "Sigue A Tu Corazón" nearly 10 years ago with the aim of increasing awareness for nurturing emotional well-being and multiple talents in classrooms. After dusting off some cobwebs, the beautiful project was brought to life through an enthusiastic, interdisciplinary and loving collaboration. Margherita Poto (research professor) brought her passion for sustainable, open-access education and the environment, while Emily Murray brought forth her global health education, personal experience, and passion for making the world a healthier place. Translated from the original manuscript into English (Spanish, Italian, French and Farsi coming soon!), the book developed into a three-part educational resource targeting multipotential children, educators and researchers.
Filling an Education Gap
Over the past decade, there has been an increase in awareness for the importance of developing strong social and emotional skills within the academic environment, an addition to curriculum called SEL (social and emotional learning). Logical reasoning and analytical skills are important and reading, writing and math are necessary components of any curriculum, but are not sufficient. Children spend majority of their days in the classroom, so it is equally important to foster strong emotional intelligence, creativity and imagination—core competencies to lay the foundation for building a meaningful life. Even less explored is the importance for fostering multiple talents and the concept of multipotentiality. Moving away from the linearity of "what do you want to be when you grow up?" towards an openness to exploring many interests and talents can give children the chance to discover their true selves and imagine their future directions, without being pressured into choosing "one" career goal from the start. A more open mind leaves space for innovation and creativity, which leads to having the capacity to find sustainable solutions and imaging a better world.
EMOTIONAL INTELLIGENCE &
When a child learns to understand their own emotions and develop a strong, confident relationship with themselves, they are able to build meaningful relationships with others and the natural environment. Follow Your Heart takes a relational thinking approach, because to instil an understanding of the interconnectedness and evolving relationship that exists between people and nature is a way towards environmental sustainability (Eyster & Chan, 2023).
Sustainable education is an educational approach that considers the three pillars of sustainability (economic, social and environmental) while enriching students, schools and communities with the values and internal motivation to create a sustainable future.
Developing strong emotional intelligence and raising children who are aware and proud of their many innate talents and skills (rather than encouraging them to focus on what they are "good" at) will lead to generations of imaginative, creative and caring multipotentialites. In other words, a generation who will have the skills to find solutions to environmental, social and health challenges.
The authors and involved educators plan to continue developing content relating to Follow Your Heart, to make emotional and ecological educational resources more accessible. Continuing with the book launch and workshop series, the team will expand their network and gather knowledge and observations on how to best develop the book and story of Cora from here!