September 14, 2016
“Social entrepreneurs are not content with giving people fish or teaching people how to fish. They will not rest until they have revolutionized the fishing industry.”
– Bill Drayton, Founder and CEO of Ashoka: Innovators for the Public
How can we approach growth beyond direct service? How can we leverage our expertise and partner with like-minded organizations to revolutionize an entire system? How can we transform education so that all children have the opportunity to thrive and learn in a way that is intellectually, emotionally, and physically engaging?
These questions framed Center for Inspired Teaching’s participation in the Re-imagine Learning Globalizer process, an Ashoka initiative run in partnership with the LEGO Foundation. Globalizer was designed to give a small group of leading organizations the tools and support “to strategically and rapidly spread their innovation in order to achieve change on a global scale.” Over six intensive months of strategic planning, each organization worked with a team of volunteer global business leaders and McKinsey & Company consultants to devise its unique role in achieving that vision.
At the culmination of the planning process, the leaders of each participating organization came together for the Globalizer Summit in London. At the Summit, Inspired Teaching’s Founder and President Aleta Margolis, Executive Director Jane Dimyan Ehrenfeld, and Manager of Strategic Initiatives Sammy Magnuson participated in three days devoted to presenting, discussing, and developing promising solutions for large-scale impact on the education system.
In London, each organization met with four “Strategy Thought Partners.” Carefully selected for their extensive expertise in scaling meaningful innovations, the Strategy Thought Partners gave feedback on the plans developed over the course of the Globalizer process and offered advice on putting them into action. Inspired Teaching met with Hanne Rasmussen, the CEO of the LEGO Foundation; Jeff Dunn, the President and CEO of Sesame Workshop; Gib Bulloch, the Founder and former Executive Director of Accenture Development Partnerships; and Ross Hall, the Director for Education of Ashoka Europe.
The Summit welcomed representatives from the business, philanthropic, nonprofit, and academic sectors. Re-imagine Learning Fellows connected with leaders from the LEGO Group, the Omidyar Network, the Aga Khan Foundation, Google, the Innovation Unit, the Global Partnership for Education, and many more groups about shared areas of interest and possible opportunities to support each other’s work.
The original Re-imagine Learning Challenge Champions, a group that includes Inspired Teaching, came together with new Re-imagine Learning Champions to identify barriers and opportunities in promoting Learning through Play. Following presentations by LEGO and Ashoka, Jane and Sammy facilitated a half-day session with over thirty leaders from dozens of organizations located in Turkey, Thailand, the United Kingdom, India, Colombia, and many more countries worldwide. Despite the many superficial differences among the participants, we shared much in common: strategies for activating young people’s inherent potential; a commitment to treating educators as true partners; and the overwhelming need to shift mindsets about play.
In an activity that framed individual conversations with the Strategy Thought Partners, Aleta challenged the whole group to shift their own mindsets. Directing them to “fill the space,” Aleta asked participants to move around the room, pointing at every object they saw – and then naming it something completely different. One participant pointed at a foosball table and called it a toothbrush; another pointed at Wendy Kopp, Co-founder and CEO of Teach for All, and announced, “Panda bear!”. This deceptively challenging exercise then led to a group discussion about the difficulty of breaking habits in order to think about something familiar in a new way.
The Summit provided an incredible opportunity to strengthen Inspired Teaching’s plans for extending our impact. As Inspired Teaching puts our plans into action, we will draw upon the advice, support, and partnership of the many thoughtful, strategic, and dedicated individuals who attended the Summit. We thank Ashoka, the LEGO Foundation, and our outstanding team of volunteer consultants – Julien Phillips, Francois Barbier, Rachel Vazquez-Reina, David Fuller, and Salman Razzaque – for all of their hard work and brilliant contributions to the work and mission of Center for Inspired Teaching throughout the Re-imagine Learning Globalizer process.