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“Children Represent Hope” – Lord Jim Knight interviews Esther Wojcicki

Zoe White, 03/05/19

What’s the trick to putting the human element at the centre of parenting and learning? Esther Wojcicki, ‘the godmother of Silicon Valley’, says it’s Trust, Respect, Independent, Collaboration, and Kindness.

This is how her new book How to Raise Successful People is organised. We were privileged to host Esther chatting with Former Schools Minister Lord Jim Knight all about the idea of TRICK in her book, and what led her to write it.

She says:

“I saw a system that didn’t work and a system I didn’t trust so I challenged the whole system. Worldwide, kids are depressed and forced to learn things not related to the real world. We test them on it and they get into the world without the skills they need. I’m not doing this to sell books I want to change things. These kids are smart!”

Esther also applies her TRICK philosophy to her teaching. She reflected on expectations in teaching in the 1980s and 1990s, saying students were not allowed to talk or collaborate on homework. Esther encouraged just this; collaboration and discussion in the classroom. The result was the threat of losing her job, so she told her students and asked them to be silent when Principle came. She continued to encourage collaborative learning and is pleased to see that now everyone wants to do that in schools.

But there is still change to be made. Esther talked about her frustration with the way schooling systems work, and how this comes through in her book. She notes how hard it is to be a teacher because of the way training is delivered, and states the importance of being human with students.

It was impossible to leave this event without a renewed sense of the importance of trust and collaboration with young people. “When kids decide the rules with you, you don’t have to enforce them,” Esther said, and “children asking for help is different to you imposing help. That’s collaboration. Be resources for your children.”

Lord Jim Knight then asked, “There is big change in the air, can we send that to parents?” Esther’s reply?

“The power to change the system lies with parent.” She also recognised the agency of teachers and the need for the whole community to get involved, which is exactly what we’re doing at Big Change with our new Reimagining Education Together work.

We had such a brilliant morning hearing from Esther’s experience to create a childhood for her children different to the one she had, and the joy she found in being a parent because, as she says “your children represent hope.”

We are so hopeful for these kinds of big changes, like Esther is teaching, to make real differences for all young people in this world of constant change.

Esther finished the event with this inspiring, powerful quote:

“Trust yourself and your ideas because you are smarter than you ever imaged.”