Latest news from the Bernard van Leer Foundation

Re-imagining Learning and Play 11-04-2014

By Lisa Jordan, Executive Director, 11 April 2014

Over the past two days I have had the pleasure of re-imagining learning and play — with a group of 250 school teachers, digital designers, and play advocates brought together by the LEGO foundation. Read more.

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In Memory of Peter Bell 07-04-2014

By Lisa Jordan, Executive Director, 7 April 2014

This weekend the universe shifted to make way for Peter Bell’s soul.

Peter served as a member of Bernard van Leer Foundation’s Board of Trustees for over a decade, ending his service just last June. We were so lucky! Peter brought commitment to the mission, wisdom to our deliberations and a moral clarity on all issues big and small. I personally will not only always remember him for this clarity, but will continually strive to exemplify it in my own life. Peter served young children through BvLF which was just one stop in a career of service oriented toward the greater good, from the youngest citizen to the eldest. Peter was a person who when he saw a good fight, got in it.

When I was first asked to join Bernard van Leer, Peter was part of the selection committee. He was a mentor to a number of people in senior positions at the Ford Foundation, all to whom I reported. I made the usual queries amongst my bosses and the stories came pouring out: how Peter had stood up to the CIA and saved a number of lives in Latin America while he served through a period of dirty wars; how Peter had forced the hand of the Reagan appointed neo conservatives at the Inter-American Foundation while he served there; how Peter had grown CARE; how Peter put principle before politics. Each story was larger than the last. Read more...

'Strong Foundations for 21st Century Skills? Start Early', Lisa Jordan's New Blog for The Huffington Post 18-03-2014

Read Lisa Jordan's new Blog for The Huffington Post

Even with youth unemployment at high levels, business leaders complain that they cannot find graduates with the right skills for the modern workplace. A new report from McKinsey published this month found that although almost a quarter of the young people across the European Union are unemployed, only 40 percent of employers feel confident that they can find enough skilled graduates to fill entry-level positions. A recent study of employers by the US-based Business Roundtable found that most employers in the US also struggle to recruit employees skilled in critical thinking, critical problem solving and teamwork. And a survey of adult skills from the OECD in 2013 found that only between 2.9% and 8.8% of adults demonstrate the highest level of proficiency on problem‑solving in technology‑rich environments in OECD countries.

In an attempt to close this gap, businesses typically build relationships with colleges, vocational schools, universities and high schools. However, new science is telling us this focus on secondary and tertiary education is misplaced. We need to tackle the problem much earlier - at primary and before. Read more...

Finally it’s About the Kids 14-02-2014

By Lisa Jordan, Executive Director, 14 February 2014

Last night I came home to the evening newspaper (NRC for those who are Dutch) with a big front page headline ‘’Plan for Free Lessons for Toddlers’’. Inside the newspaper the stories read ‘’Secretly, They are Learning Math and Dutch’’ and ‘’Children Get Smarter When They are Together’’. The hair immediately rose on my arms.

I was overjoyed. Three years ago when we were beginning to think about how to introduce the idea of early learning into the Netherlands, a good friend with a strong political nose recruited to the cause told me ‘’this is a soft women’s issue that will never make headline news’’. Ha! Never say never. Read more...

I want to tell you something – messages from abused children 14-11-2013

By Lisa Jordan, Executive Director, 14 November 2013

The Dutch are very proud that, according to UNICEF’s research, children here are the happiest in the world. But averages hide extremes. Sadly, in the Netherlands, neglect and abuse are on the rise. The University of Leiden found in 2011 that one in 30 Dutch children suffer abuse.

Privacy is held dear in the Netherlands. Interfering in family life is frowned upon, and violence in children’s lives is almost a taboo discussion. So how could we, as a small foundation, try to prevent violence in children’s lives when an entire society appears unwilling to have the conversation? Read more...

Play is powerful 09-10-2013

By Lisa Jordan, Executive Director, 1 October 2013

If you observe young children you can see they are little scientists, exploring the world and trying out different things, breaking things and putting them back together. Or, at least, trying to – it turns out that an iPhone is tricky. Read more...

5 Reasons why Businesses are Investing in Young Children 01-10-2013

By Lisa Jordan, Executive Director, 1 October 2013

While attending ReadyNation’s 2013 National Business Leader Summit in Atlanta, at which senior business people voiced their support for more investment in the young children of the United States, I realised that there are essentially five reasons I hear from business leaders to explain why they have decided to invest in young children. Read more...

'All Eyes Are on the United States', Lisa Jordan's New Blog for The Huffington Post 29-07-2013

Read Lisa Jordan's new blog for The Huffington Post.

Will we or will we not invest in our youngest citizens?

In February, President Obama announced his landmark Early Learning Initiative that would provide high-quality preschool for all 4-year-olds, invest in high-quality infant and toddler early learning and development, and expand effective parent and family supports. Shortly thereafter, a new set of federal regulations were proposed which will go a long way to better address the quality of early learning experiences for all children, particularly around health and safety issues. Read More...

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