“My dear refugee and friend, never quit learning, never quit dreaming. Never lose hope.” This is how the letter starts that Muzoon Al-Mellehan has dedicated to the boys and girls who suffer the toll caused by armed conflict. She also had to flee. At 14, she escaped Syria with her family, headed for a refugee camp in Jordan. She brought with her only the essentials: her schoolbooks. During the three years she spent in refugee camps, she fought to raise awareness among families that children should continue studying. In 2017 she became the first UNICEF goodwill ambassador with refugee status. She now lives in the United Kingdom where she is studying international relations: “My message for world leaders and international organizations is that they should focus their efforts on ensuring that children have access to quality education, no matter the circumstances in which they find themselves.”
David Matsumoto is a psychology professor at San Francisco State University (SFSU). His mastery of microexpressions, gestures, non-verbal behavior, culture, and emotion have made him one of the leading experts in these areas. Currently, he is the director of the Emotion and Culture Research Laboratory at SFSU, focused on studies that revolve around social interaction, and communication. In addition, Matsumoto founded the East Bay Judo Institute in El Cerrito, California. He has a seventh-degree black belt and is a licensed class-A trainer and referee.
Keith Devlin is one of the world’s greatest advocates for mathematics. The British Mathematician insists that maths in the 21st century depends on creativity. Devlin is the author of more than 30 popular science books; a university professor, as well as the co-founder and director of H-STAR, the Human-Sciences and Technologies Advanced Research Institute at Stanford University. His research focuses on the use of different methods for teaching mathematics to the general public.
Should children, to grow up healthy, do dangerous things? According to Gever Tulley, founder of Brightworks School and Tinkering School, two educational initiatives based on learning through experimentation, controlled risk can be a powerful educational tool. This educator firmly believes that education needs to free itself from parental over-protection. “We need brave boys and girls, who are prepared to confront the challenges of the world to come.” The message for fearful parents is clear: “Don’t let your fear be the only thing that interferes with your child’s autonomy.”
Michael Sandel is the Professor of Government at Harvard University and one of the most highly regarded and well-known philosophers in the world, his classes at Harvard are wildly popular and always fully packed. Last October he received the 2018 Princess of Asturias Award for Social Sciences because, according to the jury, he has “managed to transmit his dialogic, deliberative approach to debate to a global audience.” Sandel believes that faith in debate has been lost, which is one of the reasons why public discourse in democratic societies worldwide seems so empty. He explains: “We are afraid to talk with our co-citizens about big questions such as justice, what it means to be a citizen, and the common good because we are afraid we won’t agree,”.
Ranga Yogeshwar is one of the most popular scientists in Germany, a board member of several research institutions and founder of several scientific initiatives. He is a frequent star on German television and radio, where he has hosted numerous shows and debates. In his most recent book called “Next Exit: The Future” he analyzes how science and technology will transform our lives. Ranga Yogeshwar travels the world giving lectures on the challenges posed by innovations and how they are changing societies.
Tony Wagner is one of the most renowned experts working in education around the world. A high school teacher in the U.S. for more than a decade, he currently works at the Harvard Innovation Lab. For years he has advocated for a new approach to education. In fact, he is on the board of several educational institutions and public organizations. Wagner contends that the current educational model needs to change so that young people can build an assured future focused around what they want and what jobs are likely to exist. He argues that the role of schools needs to be reexamined, given that knowledge is now found everywhere, not just in the classroom, and consequently, educational roles are changing.
Dr. Elizabeth Kilbey is a leading clinical psychologist and collaborates as child psychologist with British Channel 4’s “The Secret Life of 4, 5 and 6 Year Olds,” an educational TV research experiment that glimpses into how children behave when grown-ups are not around. She is the author of “Unplugged Parenting,” a book that has helped hundreds of parents address key issues during the early years of their children’s development, especially related to the time they spend in front of screens. In her book, Kilbey offers tangible, practical advice to parents about how to unplug their children from devices so their online time doesn’t become a problem.
Marcus du Sautoy is a writer, television host and mathematics professor at the University of Oxford. He is best known for hosting the BBC documentary “The Code”, which explains basic concepts regarding the historical use and meaning of numbers. He says: “Some scientists want to discover a theory for everything, while I look at it from a different perspective, from another place: articulating some limits, establishing some questions that science was never able to answer.”
For 30 years, Duncan Wardle worked for one of the most creative companies in the world: Walt Disney. It is his opinion that everyone is born creative. The problem is, at some point, someone told us that we are not. And we believed them. Wardle insists on the importance of re-connecting with the child we once were, and recovering creativity in all areas of life. “When we are trying to create great ideas, we have to play,” he says.
Daniel J. Siegel is a medical doctor, professor of clinical psychiatry at the University of California School of Medicine in Los Angeles, co-director of the UCLA Mindful Awareness Research Center and executive director of the Mindsight Institute. With a positive vision, Siegel argues that adolescence is a very special time, emotions are sparked, social connections made, and searches start for what’s new and creative essence: “Adolescents have passion, a feeling that everything matters. They have a deep capacity for collaboration between themselves, and the strength to try new things,” he says.
Barbara Oakley is an engineering professor at Oakland University in Rochester and is a Ramón y Cajal Distinguished Scholar in Global Digital Learning at McMaster University. She is director of the course ‘Learning to learn’ offered by Coursera, the largest online course in the world. Oakley is one of the international pioneers in the area of neuroeducation and winner of numerous teaching awards, such as the Chester F. Carlson Award from the American Society for Engineering Education. Oakley invites us to leave our comfort zone in order to develop new skills and work flexibly: “A quality that will help us to adapt to an ever-changing world,” she says.
Chris Hadfield was the first Canadian astronaut to live aboard the International Space Station, spending almost 4,000 hours in space. Hadfield is one of the most experienced and accomplished astronauts in the world; he was responsible for the shuttle´s communications during 25 launches, was NASA’s director of operations, chief of robotics at the Johnson Space Center, and chief of operations for the International Space Station. He also served as commander of the International Space Station where he led a record number of scientific experiments, in addition to becoming one of the most popular astronauts in history taking photos and recording educational videos about life in space, for which he has received much praise. His music video of his gravity-free version of David Bowie’s Space Oddity is his most popular video.
This educator, writer and communicator, is a world leader in pedagogy. Robinson believes a profound transformation of the current education system is needed and maintains that the role of teachers is decisive. He argues that “It’s difficult to overstate the importance of teachers in your life” and adds: “It is a multi-faceted profession, one of the most demanding jobs a person can have.” As opposed to examinations and subject hierarchies, he defends creativity as one of the most important skills that schools should nurture: “It’s the essence of what it means to be human.” he states.
Considered to be one of the most influential psychologists of recent times, Daniel Goleman burst onto the international scene as the best-selling author of ‘Emotional Intelligence’. Goleman maintains that we should teach our children how to practice and develop emotional intelligence. The psychologist stresses the fundamental importance that our ability to focus our attention plays in today’s world, either as a way to practice self-control, to improve our ability to empathize with others, or better understand the world around us, and so there are benefits to training it: “Attention is like a muscle. if we don’t use it, it gets weak: if we exercise it, it gets strong.” he declares.
Considered to be one of the most influential female scientists of the twentieth century, Jane Goodall’s eyes shine when she shares her stories from days past; today they have become life lessons about science and education: “Be curious and make mistakes, be patient and don’t give up.” this extraordinary woman reiterates. Doctor Goodall’s research revolutionized the scientific community and fascinated the entire world with her National Geographic documentaries. Her perseverance, intuition, empathy, and skill at making observations, not only allowed her to discover the unknown world of the chimpanzees and other species, but has also encouraged us to reflect on ourselves and to promote a more sustainable lifestyle and a more just society.
A neurologist and a mother: that’s how Frances Jensen, one of the most respected international researchers of the adolescent brain, defines herself. She is chair of the Neurology Department at the University of Pennsylvania. In her latest work ‘The Teenage Brain’. “Teenagers are learning machines,” states this neurologist, although she qualifies that “they learn both the good and the bad equally well.” From her privileged position as a scientist, teacher, and mother, Jensen explores and dispels myths about adolescence and provides practical advice on how to get through this complex stage of life.
Adam Alter is a psychologist and professor in the Psychology Department at New York University, and a regular contributor to prestigious media like The New York Times, The New Yorker, The Washington Post, Wired, and Popular Science. Alter is the author of the U.S. best-selling book., ‘Irresistible’, where he describes behavior that is harmful and addictive for our children and uses examples that will resonate with many. “If they always find the answer using a screen, children won’t learn to self-regulate.” Interaction with technology when children are present is the best example, which is why he warns, “children are interested in whatever their parents are paying attention to.”
Professor of psychology at Stanford University, Carol Dweck is one of the leading researchers and international innovators in education due to her ground-breaking ideas about mindset, motivation, and development. Dweck created the concepts of fixed mindset, people who believe that intelligence is innate and unchangeable; and the growth mindset, those who believe that their skills can improve with training and effort. Through her research, she has concluded that parents, teachers, and educators can help promote the growth mindset. Limiting feedback about a child’s intelligence to praise can have a negative impact and encourage a fixed mindset.
Tim Elmore is a popular American writer, trainer, and expert on the millennial generation. He is the founder of Growing Leaders, a non-profit organization whose mission is to provide real life leadership skills to students. He is the author of books such as ‘Generation iY: Secrets to Connecting with Today’s Teens & Young Adults in the Digital Age’ and ‘12 Huge Mistakes Parents Can Avoid: Leading Your Kids to Succeed in Life’. In his work ‘Nurturing the Leader Within Your Child’ he is critical of overprotective parenting and excessive parental control, which can be summarized by one of the most well-known phrases in his book: “We must prepare children for the path, instead of the path for children.”
A doctor in physics and professor of educational technology at the University of Newcastle (United Kingdom), Sugata Mitra became world famous when TED, the organization that promotes technology, education and design, chose his talk as the most inspiring and with the greatest potential for change in 2013. He is also known for his “Hole in the Wall” experiment, which inspired the novel that later became the movie ‘Slumdog Millionaire.’ Today, his educational proposal, SOLE (Self-Organized Learning Environments), has experiences in schools of over 50 countries.
A doctor in psychology and philosophy, Tal Ben-Shahar currently holds the record for the largest enrollment in an undergraduate course at Harvard University: over 1400 students per semester. His Positive Psychology course quickly earned professor Tal Ben-Shahar his “Happyness Professor” nickname among students. His theories, which draw on science to propose methods to live life with enthusiasm and happiness, have resonated far beyond his classrooms, and his books have become global bestsellers. Can one learn how to be happy? Ben-Shahar’s answer is that “yes, we can change our levels of happiness,” but he doesn’t stop just there and argues that we should teach children how to be happy at schools.
Dutch therapist and writer Eline Snel is Europe’s leading voice in mindfulness applied to education. Snel method’s, also known as the “frog” method due to its focus on attention and breathing taking cues from amphibian behavior, is applied in primary and secondary schools in countries such as France, Germany, Singapore and also Spain. According to Snel, although mindfulness, “is not a magic wand”, teaching it at schools is beneficial for children and teachers, one of the most demanded professionals in the world, she explains.
He is better known as the founder of the world’s most important collaborative projects: Wikipedia. His contribution to the promotion and dissemination of human knowledge has been recognized on many occasions including a Princesa de Asturias Award for international cooperation in 2015. Jimmy Wales is passionate about education, especially about the possibilities that informal learning currently opens up for people’s education. Named the sixth most influential person in the world, Wales believes that, thanks to technology, learning is no longer restricted to schools and colleges, and that we all the need to keep learning throughout our lives.
A journalist and professor at Palo Alto High School (California, USA) for over 30 years, Esther Wojcicki is considered as a pioneer in the study of media literacy applied to education. Along with creativity, critical thinking and collaboration, Wojcicki holds that communication is one of the key skills that must be taught at schools to achieve a more relevant learning in the 21st century.
A distinguished professor at the University of Massachusetts and holder of a PhD in Philosophy, Robert Swartz is considered one of the most influential voices in education. Head of the Center for Teaching Thinking (CTT), Swartz is the creator of the Thought-Based Learning method (TBL), that teaches students to make decisions through critical thought and to think creatively and autonomously. For Swartz, thinking and reasoning properly is a social function, which is why it is so important that, at schools, students develop, share ideas, and learn by working together.
Matt Goldman is internationally renowned for being one of the three members of the New York theater company Blue Man Group. He explains, “As artists, we had the feeling that culturally, something was missing in schools.” Concerned by the future of society and education, in the year 2006 the Blue Men founded the Blue School in New York. “We realized the many aspects of the Blue Man Group, like social conscience, collaboration and the research approach could fit perfectly in the environment of a different school,” he explains.
It is one thing to think and study about ways to improve education, many people devote their lives to it. But only a few can actually talk from experience. Richard Gerver is one of them. The winner of “Best Head Teacher” in the British National Teaching Awards, Gerver is regarded as one of the most innovative and inspiring educational leaders of our time. He’s been asked to share his vision on education and human potential by many organizations and top-level athletes across the world. He’s written three books “Creating tomorrow’s school today,” “Change,” and “Simple Thinking”. For this PhD in Education, teacher and author, “the key to education is helping children discover what they’re passionate about.”
For Kiran Bir Sethi, one thing’s clear: If there’s one thing that children should learn at school, that’s how to change the world. How? This Indian educator’s proposal is Design for Change, a movement that fosters children’s creativity and initiative to solve problems in their community, and that currently is present in over 60 countries. Sethi is also a founder of the Riverside schools, and there, she helps little students grow by saying ‘I can!” And of course, to the beat of a Bollywood tune.