I am convinced (some would say over-optimistically) that in one of our classes, right now, today, is the child who will, one day, save the world.
There they are, listening to your input, writing, talking, thinking, looking out the window, messing about. All they need from you is empowerment, education and opportunity. It’s quite some reason for choosing to teach. And for continuing to do so, when the road is rough.
And that’s why the denial of learning is so devastating, so ridiculous, so stupid. Each child in school increases the chance of a better world. Each child is a thriving bundle of intelligence and curiosity, of energy, excitement and potential. Well, each one can be, if we let them.
Religion, poverty, hunger, gender-bias, logistics; the enemies of access.
UNICEF estimates our world tolerates 160 million child workers: some exploited and abused by strangers; some adding neccesary labour to their family’s survival. All denied their right to learning. 129 million girls are out of school, often trapped by tradition and patriarchy; pushed and locked into early roles of service and home-making.
And technically, every child on the planet could learn with a tablet. Satellite coverage, mesh networks, localised energy and an abundance of quality online content, all converge to make this a possibility. But is it a logistical reality? No, no it isn’t. A world that can’t yet coordinate its climate response, hasn’t even managed to put learning in all young hands. Many good folks are trying, I’ve worked with a few, but barriers of finance, politics and geography remain.
So a small part in saving the world, is my third storybook, due (2 years late) early 2022, highlighting issues like those above, presenting themes of vital significance as simple, original thinking narratives.
Thinking Stories to Open Your Mind got children thinking. Surprising Stories to Stimulate Creativity got them creating. Thinking Stories to Save the World has slightly weightier aspirations: contemporary and future challenges presented as quests and journeys, revelations and rebirths, as tragedy, as comedy and through the eyes of monsters and saviours. Tales to signpost the future.
I want all children to have the mindware for grappling with AI, climate change and technology, for thriving in shifting employment and for wrestling with the complex ethics of themes such as data, genetics and geopolitics; gender, equality, migration and wealth.
I want them all to have a chance to save the world and to participate fully in its care. Whether they are fortunate enough to be in school, or not.