“Schools and learning need a movement to change not just the way we teach, but also how we think about teaching and learning,” Yamashiro says, noting that education needs to be valued in American society and focused on not only test scores and economic success, but also on the whole child and finding joy in learning. To this end, he sought and obtained an Ed.L.D. Innovation Fund grant to support work on a School Happiness Index, a new metric that schools and districts could use that is conceptually modeled after the Global Happiness Index now being used by the United Nations.
"Joyful learning, as Yamashiro describes it, starts with passion, purpose, and play. Components include building strong positive relationships; developing a growth mindset; connecting learning with social action in the community; and infusing arts, enrichment, and technology into the daily lives of students. The nonprofit, which Yamashiro started with his wife, acts as a network aimed to unite people and organizations worldwide in joyful learning and restructuring the tone and message of schools.
“There are few things more important to us than the daily experiences and future of our children,” says Yamashiro, who has three school-aged sons. “Through the daily interaction with school, children learn not only content, but values. Over time I hope that the Joyful Learning Network can play a part in expanding the values that we believe have a place in our schools, as well as positively impacting teaching and learning.”"