My clos­ing keynote from eLearning08, the pri­mary event on the NSW Aus­tralian Flex­i­ble Learn­ing Frame­work calendar.

I want today to tell you a story. Like many sto­ries, our hero is a young girl. She will face chal­lenges and adver­sity. But she will also achieve great things. She might even find her­self a humor­ous sidekick.

So who is this girl? And what is her jour­ney? She is girl on the verge of the jour­ney into adult­hood. A jour­ney that will take her through high school and per­haps to uni­ver­sity or voca­tional train­ing of some sort.

That girl is my daugh­ter, Han­nah. She is 11 years old. She is about to fin­ish 5th Grade. In 2010, Han­nah will enter high school. It will be the six years she spends there that are per­haps the most impor­tant years of her time in for­mal edu­ca­tion, for they will estab­lish the foun­da­tion of the skills she will need to carry into fur­ther edu­ca­tion, into the world of work and beyond into her career and any addi­tional edu­ca­tion she might choose to undertake.

As Hannah’s par­ent, as a busi­ness per­son with more than 20 years of work expe­ri­ence, and as a poten­tial employer, I am only too aware of a num­ber of issues sur­round­ing her edu­ca­tion and the work­ing world she will ulti­mately join that con­cern me greatly.

Not least of those issues is how the edu­ca­tion sys­tem and gov­ern­ments in Aus­tralia — Fed­eral and State — are deal­ing, or indeed not deal­ing, with the increas­ing need for stu­dents of today to have an edu­ca­tion that is con­nected. An edu­ca­tion that focuses on the tec­tonic shift in the nature of soci­ety trans­formed by the emer­gence of the World Wide Web. An edu­ca­tion that under­stands that the global econ­omy and work were trans­formed fun­da­men­tally in the late 20th Cen­tury from an econ­omy of mak­ing things to an econ­omy of know­ing things. An econ­omy of con­ver­sa­tion, col­lab­o­ra­tion and community.

Soci­ety is now con­nected in a way that changes the game. The vil­lage is truly global and even in the Third World hyper­con­nect­ed­ness is mak­ing waves. More than this, the class­room and the mate­r­ial taught there is los­ing rel­e­vance as stu­dents every­where, from pri­mary through to post-​​graduate and voca­tional edu­ca­tion take con­trol of their own learn­ing expe­ri­ences, col­lab­o­rat­ing with each other and in social net­works that fos­ter cre­ativ­ity, inno­va­tion, big think­ing and inde­pen­dence of viewpoint.

Edu­ca­tors and edu­ca­tion pol­i­cy­mak­ers risk increased mar­gin­al­i­sa­tion and fur­ther irrel­e­vance if they fail to move quickly. To adapt and adopt to a world that is streak­ing away from them as the con­nected — from pri­mary school stu­dents to Indian Ocean fish­er­men — fol­low the links and learn from each other in a true global vil­lage that empow­ers and per­mits them to be as pro­duc­tive and inno­v­a­tive as they can and for­gives or even ignores the notion of being wrong in favor of the idea of fail­ing fast, cheap and often.

At Kansas State Uni­ver­sity, Pro­fes­sor Michael Wesch runs a dig­i­tal ethnog­ra­phy pro­gram that explores the changes being wrought upon our cul­ture by the Inter­net. Let’s take a look at some­thing he and his stu­dents made about a year ago.

The quote from Mar­shall McLuhan at the start of the video is par­tic­u­larly rel­e­vant. Let’s look at it.

“Today’s child is bewil­dered when he enters the 19th Cen­tury envi­ron­ment that still char­ac­ter­izes the edu­ca­tional estab­lish­ment where infor­ma­tion is scarce but ordered and struc­tured by frag­mented, clas­si­fied pat­terns, sub­jects and sched­ules.“
Mar­shall McLuhan, 1967

1967… That’s the year before I was born. So what’s going wrong and what’s hap­pen­ing now?

When Han­nah went into class this morn­ing, the envi­ron­ment she entered was fun­da­men­tally lit­tle dif­fer­ent to that which my grand­fa­ther expe­ri­enced in his first day of school in Welling­ton, nearly 100 years ago. Or that of my father in Devon­port 60 years ago. Or mine, in 1974. Chairs, desks, silence, the tools that keep you con­nected turned off or at best scarce, the teacher in front of the class.

It was then and is now a largely dis­jointed, form-​​and-​​function dri­ven envi­ron­ment where at best, only the very finest teach­ing draws a few of the vir­tu­ally count­less con­tex­tual threads together. It’s an envi­ron­ment designed to pro­duce com­pli­ant, 19th Cen­tury fac­tory work­ers. Work­ers who were a part of a model where one held the same job for life, where cre­ative and lat­eral think­ing were dis­cour­aged and where you were expected to sim­ply do and fol­low orders.

But the world doesn’t work that way any more.

Today, Hannah’s learn­ing envi­ron­ment is the entire world. Arguably it’s larger than that. More specif­i­cally, it’s this — Hannah’s learn­ing envi­ron­ment is the hyper­con­nected world she finds her­self a part of on a con­stant basis. She’s con­nected con­tin­u­ally to expe­ri­ences and groups from which she learns and con­tex­tu­al­izes. Most of those are not medi­ated in a class­room envi­ron­ment, and many of them are amongst her peers. This will become more so as her abil­ity to socialise and col­lab­o­rate with her peers increases in com­plex­ity and becomes more refined.

As a group they, and oth­ers like them, are entirely col­lab­o­ra­tive, con­ver­sa­tional and com­mu­nity focused. She’s con­nected into these learn­ing expe­ri­ences on a con­stant basis through mobile phones, her iPod, the tools she uses like wikis, blogs, online book­mark­ing and social net­works, and any one of the sev­eral ‘Net-​​connected devices she encoun­ters dur­ing the course of her day. Often, those expe­ri­ences are mas­sively par­al­lel — IM and text, while read­ing or edit­ing some­thing online and lis­ten­ing to some­thing else or con­vers­ing with the group in the room. Han­nah and her peers are a part of an envi­ron­ment beyond the class­room that empow­ers them and puts them in con­trol. That allows them to fol­low the white rab­bit down the hole of con­nect­ed­ness until their curios­ity is sated. This form of learn­ing is also multi-​​directional. Han­nah teaches as much as she learns. The net­work responds to her as much as she to it. They are, as Don Tap­scott puts it, “the ‘Net Generation”.

Arguably, her learn­ing expe­ri­ences in the class­room are becom­ing pro­gres­sively more irrel­e­vant as the learn­ing expe­ri­ences she under­takes beyond the class — delib­er­ately or coin­ci­den­tally —  more directly pre­pare her and equip her with the skills she will need to suc­cess­fully tackle the 21st Cen­tury. She is more con­nected to, and more con­tex­tu­ally so, to what dig­i­tal ethno­g­ra­pher Kevin Kelly termed “The One” than any gen­er­a­tion before her. In gen­er­a­tions to come, this will be seen as nat­ural. Right now, it presents an enor­mous chal­lenge to many edu­ca­tors and edu­ca­tion pol­i­cy­mak­ers in the polit­i­cal arena as they strug­gle to keep up with those wacky kids.

It is a chal­lenge for which they seem ill-​​prepared and ill-​​equipped. Con­se­quently, we are see­ing sig­nif­i­cant resis­tance amongst some edu­ca­tors and politi­cians to the par­a­digm shift that must take place in order to build the edu­ca­tion sys­tem we need. Just this week, we saw fur­ther evi­dence from gov­ern­ment and edu­ca­tors of the chasm of mis­un­der­stand­ing of the new par­a­digm for learning.

With new fund­ing approved, the NSW Gov­ern­ment is only too happy to give a lap­top to every child in years 7 to 12, tak­ing advan­tage of the Fed­eral Government’s laugh­ably mis­named Edu­ca­tion Rev­o­lu­tion. But what is NSW Edu­ca­tion Min­is­ter Ver­ity Firth crow­ing about? She’s crow­ing about the fact that these machines will, in effect, be crip­pled by pre­vent­ing the stu­dents who have them from con­nect­ing to their peers and social groups — where they do the vast major­ity of their learn­ing. She took sin­gu­lar delight in noting:

“We don’t want these kids to be using these com­put­ers for the not-​​so-​​wholesome things that can be on the net. And they won’t be able to because essen­tially the whole server is com­ing through the Depart­ment of Education.”

How wrong Ms Firth is. And how deli­ciously ill-​​informed.

Of course, this will fail. The block­ing sys­tems will be sub­ject to Gilmore’s Law within days, if not hours. The kids will fig­ure out a way to route around the dam­age so that they remain con­nected. And what about when they are in cafés, or at home, or pub­lic insti­tu­tions beyond school walls?

And peo­ple like me? We’ll encour­age and help the kids break the secu­rity. Why? Because it’s when we are con­nected to each other that we are at our best as a species. When we are engaged in a con­ver­sa­tion with our com­mu­ni­ties, our col­lab­o­ra­tors, that we are able to most actively seed fer­tile minds. To reach into the hid­den spaces and draw forth the intan­gi­ble and form it like clay into ideas, and inno­va­tions, and the next big thing.

Let’s look to our young hero, Han­nah, again for a moment. Han­nah began using the Inter­net at two years of age. She has had her own email address, unchecked by me or her mother, since she was eight. She has admin­is­tra­tor level access to the net­work at home and unfil­tered con­nec­tion to the Inter­net. And she knows how to use that access.

Con­trary to the rant­i­ngs of Stephen Con­roy, of the views of moral stormtroop­ers like Clive Hamil­ton, for­mer Exec­u­tive Direc­tor of The Aus­tralia Insti­tute, or of Min­is­ter Firth, Han­nah has never encoun­tered any of this “not-​​so-​​wholesome” con­tent on the Inter­net. She has never down­loaded a virus, encoun­tered an unwanted per­son, viewed porn inad­ver­tently or delib­er­ately. Yet she uses the Inter­net every day, so by the esti­ma­tion of some, she should be repeat­edly trau­ma­tised by inap­pro­pri­ate mate­r­ial, be stalked by a ver­i­ta­ble crowd of unsuit­able indi­vid­u­als and be some­one who is inca­pable of coher­ent thought, of spelling or string­ing a sen­tence together and of engag­ing with oth­ers in face-​​to-​​face situations.

Of course, this is demon­stra­bly not the case. Han­nah is an engag­ing young per­son, able to hold her own in con­ver­sa­tion with adults and her peers alike. She speaks, spells and writes and does math above her grade level. She enjoys social­is­ing — online and off. Her abil­ity to do most of these things has less to do with her class­room (although many of the fun­da­men­tals were taught there) and more to do with her nat­ural affin­ity, like many peo­ple of her gen­er­a­tion, to engage with each other in a more human, more village-​​centric style of con­ver­sa­tion, col­lab­o­ra­tion and community.

Of course, this engage­ment is medi­ated via a dif­fer­ent tool set than it was before the Indus­trial Rev­o­lu­tion, when humans last really engaged this way. Back then, it was the mead hall or the vil­lage green. Now, it’s a much larger place — the Internet.

It’s my view that, gen­er­ally speak­ing, the edu­ca­tion sys­tem is falling a long way behind in terms of pro­vid­ing learn­ers of any age with the type of edu­ca­tion they need. I’d like to look specif­i­cally at a num­ber of the issues I believe need resolution.

Con­nected and unfiltered.

From the time the World Wide Web became a pub­lic real­ity rather than a cool toy of the mil­i­tary research estab­lish­ment, edu­ca­tion has become pro­gres­sively more con­nected. Yes, our schools are largely online, but the inter­pre­ta­tion of online used in edu­ca­tion is pretty much a joke.

When our kids walk into the class, what do we do? We tell them to dis­con­nect! We make them turn off their mobile phones and give them lim­ited access to a net­work that is so tightly fil­tered it verges on cen­sor­ship. We force them into a struc­ture that no longer reflects the way soci­ety oper­ates. This approach fails to use the way stu­dents today learn to enhance the learn­ing process. Rather, it dis­con­nects and decon­tex­tu­al­izes the experience.

We take away that which defines our stu­dents and the way they live — their hyper­con­nect­ed­ness. Legit­i­mate resources are blocked because they con­tain words refer­ring to gen­i­talia, or are blocked because they fail to pass someone’s appro­pri­ate­ness fil­ter. What if I want to study the ethnog­ra­phy of White Suprema­cists? What if I need to research sex­ual health issues?

Edu­ca­tors often seem to find them­selves behind the 8-​​ball. It appears that there is a seri­ous lack of the right sort of teacher train­ing in using online resources. I don’t believe this is delib­er­ate; more a mat­ter of knowl­edge, time and under­stand­ing. But it is an issue of note.

It’s often the case that the kids are ahead of the teach­ers in their skill level at find­ing and exploit­ing online resources. This was dri­ven home to me this year when it was made appar­ent at parent-​​teacher inter­views by Hannah’s teacher that she was far and away amongst the most online– and tech-​​savvy stu­dents in the school. None of those skills were learned in class.

Use of online resources is lim­ited by com­puter avail­abil­ity. Stu­dents are afforded time online or even just on a com­puter in a strictly lim­ited way. In the worst of cases, there are too few com­put­ers in a school for there to be sev­eral in every class. This exe­crable sit­u­a­tion is arguably the stuff that should be solved by the Fed­eral Government’s Edu­ca­tion Rev­o­lu­tion. Only, with approaches like those of Stephen Con­roy and Ver­ity Firth, it doesn’t look too rev­o­lu­tion­ary to me. It’s barely evolutionary.

Putting this into per­spec­tive for Han­nah, she and her peers are being denied fre­quent enough access to what may be the most rev­o­lu­tion­ary, most paradigm-​​shifting cul­tural change in human his­tory — hyper­con­nect­ed­ness. With­out ade­quate access to online infor­ma­tion and con­nect­ed­ness between indi­vid­u­als and groups, they risk emerg­ing into the work­force lack­ing core skills in dis­cov­er­ing and con­sum­ing knowl­edge, in col­lab­o­ra­tion and in wide-​​ranging crit­i­cal thinking.

Con­tex­tual.

In a world where knowl­edge is the stuff of most jobs — includ­ing jobs like artist, farmer, fish­er­man and coal miner — the abil­ity to rapidly con­tex­tu­al­ize and draw wide-​​ranging con­clu­sions about infor­ma­tion is crit­i­cal. We need to see the big picture

We must be will­ing to be and accept oth­ers like Alice — insa­tiably curi­ous fol­low­ers of the white rab­bit down the hole. For it is down the rab­bit hole where the big­ger pic­ture that will really build our under­stand­ing of prob­lems lies. It is there, amongst the talk­ing flow­ers, the Cheshire Cat and all the mad­ness of the Tea Party and the Queen that the exploratory learn­ers will see the big­ger pic­ture and draw in the diverse threads that let them dis­cover the next big idea.

Knowl­edge work­ers in today’s world need to be fuzzy and T-​​shaped. That is, hav­ing a core of strong, deep skills, but hav­ing a wide rang­ing and insa­tiable thirst for more infor­ma­tion, wider-​​ranging skills and more con­text and mean­ing for what they do. These skills, fun­da­men­tal to the new econ­omy of the 21st Cen­tury, aren’t being taught enough. Granted, the ques­tion of how to make a fuzzy per­son is a tricky one to solve, but immer­sive, con­tex­tual, con­nected edu­ca­tion is a start­ing point for mak­ing it happen.

I want Han­nah to be as fuzzy and T-​​shaped as she can be. I want her to be able to look at a prob­lem and see the 10 other prob­lems that define it. To try things just so she can get what a prob­lem or per­son is all about. For her to be able to gather the threads together in a storm of fuzzy, appar­ently illog­i­cal think­ing to solve prob­lems in an inno­v­a­tive and cre­ative way, unfet­tered by think­ing either inside or out­side of any the­o­ret­i­cal box. In fact, she should throw the box away entirely as Step 1!

Engag­ing.

The class­room, tuto­r­ial or lec­ture the­atre is still largely run on an Indus­trial Age model where learn­ers are taught to behave like fac­tory automa­tons. The class­room envi­ron­ment makes them ready for a job on the pro­duc­tion line, or in a face­less cube farm. It’s anti-​​creative and busy­work focused and not at all designed to equip our chil­dren for a world where bursty think­ing, cre­ative knowl­edge work is ever-​​increasingly the norm. Take a look at Sir Ken Robinson’s talk from TED 2006 if you’re not convinced.

A par­al­lel issue with class­room engage­ment is that of kids who are unsuited for one rea­son or another to struc­tured, class­room learning.

My friend, Harriet’s son is gifted. Not dra­mat­i­cally dif­fer­ent from other kids, he is able to attend a nor­mal school, has friends, engages with peo­ple quite nor­mally most of the time. Yet, in a blog post she wrote respond­ing to an early ver­sion of the thoughts in this talk, she describes a child nearly destroyed by an edu­ca­tion sys­tem that fails to engage him or engage with him:

“The… imag­i­na­tion which cre­ates such com­plex images, sto­ries, songs and machines is becom­ing a prob­lem. If you can’t fill in work­sheets then you can’t be intel­li­gent. As a result, the small sparkly boy  escapes to more inter­est­ing places in his imagination.

He is offi­cially becom­ing a ‘problem’.”

“…par­ents “INFORMED” that sparkly boy is eli­gi­ble for gifted edu­ca­tion — but there’s a small prob­lem… dis­or­gan­i­sa­tion. It is appar­ently impos­si­ble to be intel­li­gent with­out being super orga­nized, being able to multi-​​task, track mul­ti­ple sub­ject areas, and ref­er­ence officially.”

“By learn­ing to build bridges he is able to use his intel­li­gence and skills to con­nect peo­ple.  The world is once again an intrigu­ing and fas­ci­nat­ing place. He has con­fi­dence in his abil­ity to make a dif­fer­ence.  He feels his own place in the world and works col­lab­o­ra­tively on issues which he feels are impor­tant to his world and him­self… His adven­tures and his risks are real, excit­ing and relate to the future he is con­struct­ing for himself.”

But it’s not just our kids, it’s us too. I began and aban­doned Mas­ters’ stud­ies this year because the classes failed to engage me ade­quately. By being con­nected and engaged beyond the for­mal frame of the course, I already had more infor­ma­tion of more rel­e­vance and more cur­rency, direct from world-​​recognised sub­ject experts, avail­able to me than that which was being pre­sented in class. And when I attempted to intro­duce the lead­ing thinkers and their work to the class, I was met with stunned silence or an “I don’t quite get it” response.

I’m not the only one. I know sev­eral peo­ple for whom the for­mal edu­ca­tion process, either at school or in ter­tiary study, sim­ply wasn’t viable. They were or are too curi­ous, too well-​​read, “unstruc­tured in their think­ing”, unable to com­plete writ­ten tests, dis­or­gan­ised in a class­room sit­u­a­tion. Too fuzzy. At least one of those peo­ple is now a an inter­na­tion­ally known aca­d­e­mic in his field.

To quote another of my col­leagues, Nathanael, who is one of the smartest web devel­op­ment minds I know:

“I did Year 8 to 11. [I was] home-​​schooled for the first seven years. [I was] mostly self-​​taught; micro­bi­ol­ogy, quan­tum mechan­ics, [and lots more]. My four years at school and col­lege made me dumber, stunted my cre­ative growth and blunted my potential.”

So once more to Han­nah. What does engag­ing mean for her? I can’t think of the num­ber of afternoon’s I’ve asked, “Tell me about school today,” only to be answered with, “Nor­mal,” or a low-​​detail descrip­tion of a few activ­i­ties. Yet, there are also times when I get a detailed, blow-​​by-​​blow descrip­tion of every­thing! That should be the norm. Edu­ca­tion needs to be excit­ing and rel­e­vant to each and every stu­dent. In the col­lab­o­ra­tive, hyper­con­nected world, every­thing is rel­e­vant, because every­thing encoun­tered and learned from is a delib­er­ate choice.

Dynamic, diverse and passionate.

Lit­er­acy and numer­acy are unar­guably crit­i­cal com­po­nents in a well-​​rounded edu­ca­tion. But it’s not enough for sev­eral rea­sons. The tar­get shouldn’t be func­tional lit­er­acy and numer­acy, it should be deep, con­tex­tu­alised expertise.

As well, the notion of cre­ative and arts sub­jects as lesser to lit­er­acy and numer­acy is mad­ness. In all schools, the aim should be to pro­duce grad­u­at­ing stu­dents that are not only appro­pri­ately edu­cated in many sub­jects, but to do so in such a way as the stu­dents are invig­o­rated and excited by the things they are taught. And taught in such a way that dur­ing and after school, they remain insa­tiably curi­ous about their worlds and what their place in it could mean.

We need more Leonar­dos, more Isaac New­tons, more Jared Dia­monds. We need to grad­u­ate more peo­ple like poly­math, Ben Dun­lap, Pres­i­dent of Wof­ford Col­lege in the US. Ben is a man so pas­sion­ate about the diver­sity of the expe­ri­ences he has had and learned from that you can’t help but be inspired by him. His talk at TED 2007 is truly incred­i­ble and some­thing that all edu­ca­tors should watch.

It’s no longer enough to grad­u­ate peo­ple from edu­ca­tion at any level who just get through. The world today, even in business-​​as-​​usual, needs more pas­sion­ate, dri­ven, widely expe­ri­enced, con­tex­tu­al­ized life-​​long learn­ers to drive the agenda — polit­i­cally, socially and creatively.

Hannah’s inter­ests are diverse. Like many 11 year old girls, she’s a fan of the Veron­i­cas, loves cats and dresses like her friends. But she’s also an emerg­ing explorer. I see in her a grow­ing curios­ity about the world. And I actively encour­age her to fol­low the white rab­bit wher­ever it may lead her.

Col­lab­o­ra­tive on as many lev­els as possible.

The notion of truly col­lab­o­ra­tive learn­ing — between stu­dents, between teach­ers and stu­dents, between class­rooms, between dif­fer­ent schools, between dif­fer­ent coun­tries — began to emerge when I was at school. We had the con­cepts, we had the ideas, but the tech­nol­ogy was a mas­sive hur­dle. Now, the tech­nol­ogy has caught up and exceeded those ideas. A mas­sively col­lab­o­ra­tive, con­stantly hyper­con­nected edu­ca­tion is a prac­ti­cal and tech­ni­cal reality.

So why isn’t edu­ca­tion like this com­pletely per­va­sive? Why are we still mostly stuck in the class­room? Why is the entire expe­ri­ence not a mul­ti­fac­eted, col­lab­o­ra­tive, global vil­lage of con­tex­tu­alised learn­ing within indi­vid­ual insti­tu­tions and across any group­ing that might be worth­while? I think it is the very con­cept of edu­ca­tion as an insti­tu­tion­alised prac­tice that holds us back.

It’s things like online gam­ing that is teach­ing us lead­er­ship and team build­ing skills. It’s edit­ing pages on Wikipedia that help us to learn to reach con­sen­sus. It’s the always-​​on net­work of text mes­sages, email, social net­works that is help­ing us to build a vil­lage where every­one is our imme­di­ate neigh­bor. The power to col­lab­o­rate eas­ily with any­one and to make it a viable and valu­able cul­tural and learn­ing expe­ri­ence is here. Now.

For Han­nah, this world just is. For the rest of us, it’s sink or swim. Too many of us, too com­fort­able with a world where hyper­con­nect­ed­ness didn’t exist seem to be choos­ing the sink option, or we are try­ing to ignore a prob­lem we hope will go away. It’s too late. Soci­ety is con­nected and changed already. It’s time to join in.

My final thought is that edu­ca­tion needs to be tar­geted at pro­duc­ing grad­u­ates equipped for 21st Cen­tury soci­ety.

In Aus­tralia and many other places, there is a mas­sive skills short­age across many indus­tries. It’s arguable our schools, from pri­mary school to uni­ver­si­ties, are not ade­quately con­sid­er­ing the needs of soci­ety in prepar­ing grad­u­ates for work and worth­while, func­tional par­tic­i­pa­tion. Issues such as the shift to knowl­edge work in much of busi­ness, the need for cre­ativ­ity and inno­va­tion, the appar­ent schisms between worker gen­er­a­tions are all issues I feel are at times inad­e­quately dealt with.

As a poten­tial employer and more impor­tantly as a human, I am less inter­ested in whether some­one has for­mal train­ing in a par­tic­u­lar field than if they are engaged and engag­ing, a big thinker, excited about their world, insa­tiably curi­ous and pre­pared to jump in and try some­thing new. It is far bet­ter to fail and learn from the expe­ri­ence than to not try and play it safe.

In today’s world, will­ing­ness to take a risk in the name of learn­ing and broad­en­ing expe­ri­ence is a key fac­tor in build­ing a suc­cess­ful life and busi­ness. Too many rest on their past suc­cess and hope that this will main­tain them. Mean­time, the hyper­con­nected con­tinue to pull ever more rapidly away as our lives become an expe­ri­ence in con­stant, con­nected learn­ing and per­sonal and cul­tural growth.

I want Han­nah to take risks. To learn and grow from them whether those risks were suc­cess­ful or not. She will never be told “no” by me if she wants to try some­thing and has a well-​​reasoned argu­ment for doing it (pro­vided it’s not ille­gal or a risk to her health).

My view is that there is just one crit­i­cal ques­tion we should be ask­ing our edu­ca­tors and the politi­cians respon­si­ble for edu­ca­tion pol­icy and programs:

“What are you actu­ally doing — now, tomor­row, next year — that will ensure our chil­dren are equipped with the best con­nected tools, inspired and engaged by the diver­sity of their edu­ca­tion, taught by the best pos­si­ble teach­ers and equipped with all the right skills to enter soci­ety as a valu­able, con­tribut­ing, col­lab­o­ra­tive member?”

For Hannah’s sake, for the future of the type of edu­ca­tion I believe she needs to thrive, I’m not inter­ested in pol­icy explo­ration, white papers, com­mit­tees and the like. I’m inter­ested in pos­i­tive, measurable action.

Imag­ine.