Charles featured on the Pearson Foundation’s “Five things I’ve learned” site


The Pearson Foundation has selected fifty global thought leaders of whom it has asked to write about the “Five things I’ve learned”;

See and Charles’s text below for your convenience:


1. Humankind is beholden to its zoological evolution, and needs to educate itself for the world it aspires to.

Clannishness (small group belonging) is hardwired, and so is the privileging of short-term reactivity to imminent danger over long-term proactivity to uncertain danger. The logarithmic understanding of numbers (a diminishing scale) is hardwired as well, blinding us to the power of exponentially progressing technologies. The combination of the three factors makes it very hard, but not impossible, for humankind to act in concert, for its own benefit, to solve global challenges (global warming, financial crisis, etc.).

2. Oversimplifications are legion, and emotions are a factor.

“Schools kill creativity”, “Does Google make us stupid?” are press-worthy attention-grabbers, but the realities are more nuanced, for a world that refuses to deal with its nuanced self. Here too, our zoological evolution influences us by privileging the power of the negative over intelligent discourse. Everyone brings in their own biases to an education conversation (this author included), but most often fail to be aware of them as the biases they are.

3. Conversations about education abound with false dichotomies, and absolutist views, that must be transcended.

The lack of a balanced-conversation mindset leads to many OR debates; for instance:

Knowledge vs skills
Science/Technology/Engineering/Math (STEM) vs Humanities/Arts
Didactic vs constructivist learning
Formal vs informal learning
All technology or no technology
Character developed at school vs at home

The balanced reality is that these are all AND propositions, working in concert with each other, and reinforcing each other, in a judicious, impactful feedback loop.

4. Awareness, adaptability, creativity and collaboration are the most important 21st century skills.

In a world of increasing volatility, uncertainty, complexity and ambiguity, our abilities to understand ourselves and each other, adapt and innovate out of problems, and work together in doing so, are key to shaping the future we aspire to. A growth, rather than fixed, mindset (per Carol Dweck) is essential in this endeavor, and so is Wisdom, which has not significantly progressed since the Axial Age.

5. It is grand time to act in a world of possibilities—with courage.

Technology is on the march exponentially, and it is a source of disruptions (via automation and offshorability), as well as solutions and incredible new possibilities—if we leverage it rather than trail it. And we need to summon the Courage within our evolved selves to “think globally, act locally” with a combination of “head, hand and heart” to shape the world we want.