Educators – Keep Up With the Future

For educators it’s so obvious that it’s not often enough acknowledged that our professional work is all about preparing young people for the future. We know, deep down, that when we preside over forms of education that don’t take full and effective notice of the future, however uncertain, are a failure to fulfill our duty and responsibilities to our students.

Especially in the field of technology and particularly technological changes’ impacts on society there is a reality that once something new comes to the public consciousness there is a tendency to over-anticipate the impact in the short term and under-estimate the long term impact. one of the results of this is that people’s first reaction to something like Artificial Intelligence is to get very excited, but then when they don’t see immediate impact in their own lives personally they downgrade their expectations to the point of disregarding the long term impacts for them. When those long term impacts arrive, too often people aren’t adequately prepared and there may even be anger as the effects take over.

So, as educators today in a world that sees the timeframes of change getting shorter and shorter we have a great need to keep up our understanding of future changes and to be actively engaged in the debates and discussions about their implications for the lives of our pupils. And, incidentally, this is not just important for the science teachers, though the excitement and anticipation of what’s possible in the future can certainly play a big part in motivating students to pursue the sciences and to be interested and excited to learn.

However, my experience is that too often teachers struggle for sources of good, up to date and informed information. I believe educators could do a lot worse than to follow the work of Mr Peter Diamandis.

Peter DiamandisPeter Diamandis 2S

Who is Peter Diamandis? He’s best known for being founder and Chairman of the X-Prize, as well as being the co-founder of the California based Singularity University (with Ray Kurzweil). Between them they have access to inside knowledge on the changes taking place in many major areas of invention, innovation and those areas where change is going to have the biggest impact in the future.

In January 2020, along with Steven Kotler, will be publishing a new book – The Future is Faster Than You Think. In the run up to the book coming out he’s sharing excerpts from the book weekly through a fascinating and some amazing email newsletters. In the last few months Diamandis has been blowing my mind with amazing and very understandable (for a non scientist) information on the current forces that are changing our world; 5G, 3D Printing, expansion of the mind, VR, AR, Artificial Intelligence, future of food, sensors, health and wellbeing,

Here’s Peter Diamandis himself summing up some of these issues and their implications at the annual conference at Singularity University:

 

One of the best ways for teachers and educators to keep up is to subscribe to his email newsletters, starting with ‘Abundance Insider’ – full details at his website:

Peter Diamandis Website

To finish, if Diamandis is right about even half of his predictions, and particularly the timescales, then we are looking at an amazing and exciting decade ahead. Such a time of phenomenal change offers enormous opportunities for our students but also poses challenges for those ‘left behind.’ We need to be informed.

New Beginnings

Disruptive education roundtable

As much as we may want to believe that we can plan and map out our lives and that things like goal setting put us in control of our own destiny, fate can often have other plans for us. personally, i don’t believe that means we should stop making plans, having a future focus or taking actions towards our determined purpose. I think the more we do that, the greater our ability to refocus, adapt and strike out on a new path when fate does intervene.

The personal events in my life in early 2018 impacted every aspect of my life in every way possible. Professionally, it meant a period away from work. International Schools Partnership (ISP) had only just completed the acquisition of Tenby Schools around 6 weeks before and we should have been fully immersed in integration at that time. When it was time for me to re-engage I had undertaken a new role for ISP focusing on business development.  This wasn’t necessarily a route i would have automatically pursued, but actually gave me a lot of interesting learning which will be invaluable in the future. However, it wasn’t necessarily a career route that i would naturally have chosen. However, one thing it did give me was space and time, along with the inputs and guidance of a London based outplacement consultant to really get some clarity of thought on what i want to do. I hope that I still have 15-20 years to contribute professionally to the world!

What has been clear to me throughout the process has been that i remain as passionate, committed and dedicated as I ever was to bringing about change and reform in education that more closely aligns the learning experiences of young people with their needs to flourish, excel and fulfil their potential in a world that changes ever more rapidly. In order for that to happen for young people requires that schools become better places to work where the creative talents of teachers can be honed and released. This, in turn requires major upgrade in the support and development for those who take up leadership roles and positions in education.

I’ve concluded that i cannot make the impact I want or challenge entrenched orthodoxy as much as i might wish whilst employed by any single school or schooling organisation. So, whilst still potentially open to business development opportunities for ISP, I am setting out on the road less traveled as an independent education consultant, coach, trainer, writer and with the freedom to take up projects alone or in collaboration with others that excite me and where i believe real impact can be achieved.

I cannot thank enough ISP, my former colleagues and team at Tenby (especially the Principals and the Central Office team) and particularly Charles Robinson, ISP Group Business Development Director for their support and help in what were, at times, challenging and dark months.

Reinventing yourself professionally is an amazing experience. One part fear, one part excitement it challenged me to question so much about myself. There are those who say it’s wrong for people to define and identify themselves so greatly with who they are professionally. However, it’s something i always knew and accepted about myself – I am what i do and I will always assess myself on the basis of the extent to which i believe I’m making a difference in education.

In the last few weeks I’ve attended events that reinforced imy beliefs that this is right for me now. One of them I’ll be writing about in a separate post. Yesterday, I attended a Roundtable meeting in Kuala Lumpur entitled “Disruptive Education.” 50 or so people from all sorts of areas associated with education, both public and private sector. A few present wanted to challenge the use of the word “disruptive” as being overly negative. It’s understandable that many will want to believe that all we need to do is a bit of evolutionary change, incremental tweaking around the edges. However, I’m even more convinced than ever that we need significant change and we have to rapidly increase the pace at which we bring those changes.

I’ve decided to keep my base in Kuala Lumpur. Over three years here I’ve come to love the place and the people. It’s also got all the strategic accessibility of Singapore with a fraction of the cost of living! I did consider a move back to India, but sad to tell all my Indian friends that with the history of my lungs a permanent move there just would never have worked. The air quality was bad when I left 6 years ago, but it’s way worse now. However, from here I believe I can work across a large swathe of Asia, and that will undoubtedly include India.

In terms of exactly what I’ll be offering, that will emerge over the next few weeks and I will be writing more with some of my plans. However, in the meantime, I am very much available to anyone who wants to reach out for discussions. There are already some interesting and very exciting ideas under discussion. I know life won’t be getting boring any time soon.

For anyone who does want to reach out to me to discuss projects or ideas, please, for now, do so on my personal email address: markp.india@gmail.com

 

Brain to Brain Communication

So, here’s one to get your head around – the first succesful demonstration of human brain to brain communication – a kind of computer assisted telepathy!

Gizmodo – Brain to Brain Communication – Article

As the science in this area evolves, what are the implications for education? What are the wider implications for society and how we live our lives? How would we ensure that the potential outcomes of such technology are positive for humanity, not exploited for negative purposes?

Graduation Speeches Galore

It’s that time of year – if young people want to graduate, part of the deal is the obligatory time to be spent sitting through the graduation ceremony and the speech from a visiting dignitary. Some institutions go in for politicians, some for celebrities and some for more academically minded speakers.

We owe a great debt to CNN this year – they’ve done all the spadework to bring together the best nuggets from a large range of graduation speeches delivered across the USA.

CNN – Graduation Speech Wisdom

So, whether you’re a fresh graduate or not, looking forward to tomorrow – take your pick of the abundance of advice on offer.

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