Thirty thousand feet above Iraq, an hour out from Qatar and the Persian Gulf – a good place to look back on this week’s third annual WISE, the World Innovation Summit for Education. It is, bar none, the biggest education conversation on earth. It has the power to convene: the world’s leading educators implored the world’s governments to honor the 2015 Millennium Education goals. In my opinion, although WISE has done significant work in the past few years there is still a lot to be done to create a coherent, systematic approach to education transformation. Qatar and the Region as a whole need that desperately. Arab leaders know they have to create 75M jobs – to sustain growth and meet the aspirations of countless young people. That means building a generation of problem-solvers and entrepreneurs. The precondition is better education.
WISE is pinning its hopes on new and innovative forms of learning – finding them, promoting them and scaling them. Charlie Leadbeater’s brilliant book on learning innovation was unveiled here this week. The Haiti learning initiative, built around inspirational new approaches to education, was launched with the WISE imprimatur. And innovative projects – from Afghan photography to smart-funded academies in America – were hailed as game changers.
All extraordinary achievements – but they won’t change the game on their own, at least not at scale. That will require a deeper look at the conditions for innovative learning and how to nurture them. And above all an effort to fold innovative learning into the wider education ecosystem, including schools, colleges and universities. In other words, to create a true Learning Society.
I’m now in Seattle at the fifth meeting of the Global Education Leaders Program (GELP), to address precisely this challenge with a group of national, state and city school systems.