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Virgin Disruptors: The Future of Education – top ten (okay, maybe twelve) moments

5 October 2015: posted by BigChange

Last Friday, we were at Virgin Disruptors event on the future of Education. It was an incredible day about the past, present and future of education that sought to find out whether or not the current model is making the cut. As you can probably imagine, we had a lot to say on the matter!

The day covered a number of different topics and featured a fantastic and diverse range of speakers such Richard and Sam Branson, Chase Jarvis of CreativeLive, Jonathan Rochelle of Google, and Physicist Brian Cox (to name only a few).


We were given the opportunity to host a panel on teaching young people how to thrive in life, not just in exams. It featured Founder of School 21 Ed Fidoe, Author Iain McGilchrist, Pastor Mimi, and our very own Essie North.

While I would love to go on and write paragraphs about the event, I thought I would spare you and share our top ten favorite quotes from the Virgin Disruptors event. But then there were so many good quotes, we had to make it twelve. Enjoy!

1. “One thing I have been lucky about with my parents is that they’ve always let us be our people, to find our own passions and purpose. When you find your passion and that purpose, you can achieve great things. A by-product of that is that you create something that your proud of, and that people around you are proud of.” – Sam Branson, founder of Big Change and Sundog Pictures

Virgin Disrupters: The Future Of Education

2. “There are so many fascinating and important things going on in the world. If teachers could inspire students to care about what’s going on – ISIS, Syria, Russia – they could leave school, pick up a newspaper and have everything be relevant.”–Richard Branson

3. “Forget wrong, just go forward. Don’t be wishy-washy when you’re teaching students. Don’t be afraid to be wrong. Say, ‘Hey everyone, I’m wrong! We just learned a new place not to go’. Failure is a skill, in trying to create things you will fail. Kids need to know that.” -Jonathan Rochelle, Google


4. “The school system is literally based on 19th century mentality, 19th century life. We have three months off in the summer to pick to crops. Is anyone here a farmer?!” -Chase Jarvis

5. “Technology is at best a neutral thing. It can be very damaging, it can be used for good. But in itself, it only has value depending on the values of the human being using it. We shouldn’t be in the business of creating better machines, but better people.” – Iain McGilchrist, Philosopher, Author, and Psychiatrist


6. “What is really happening in education is that you’re using students as measurement probes for the school, rather than focusing on their learning.” –Brian Cox

7. “I saw young boys that were trapped, lost, and I had the eyes to see that they had potential. Karl, for example, was a leader within a gang. And I saw that if I could steer that leadership somewhere else, he could be who he was supposed to be. I didn’t have an educational background, but I had love. And that was what they really needed at that point.” – Pastor Mimi, who helped Karl Lokko out of the gangs of London

8. “Creativity is the new literacy, and empathy is the new black.” – Chase Jarvis

Virgin Disrupters: The Future Of Education

9. “We need to focus on leading indicators in education, not lagging indicators.” –Shantanu Sinha, President and COO of Khan Academy

10. “Have things changed in education? I mean, not nearly, nearly enough. We are just leaving so much on the table”. Wendy Kopp, CEO and Co-Founder of Teach for All

11. “We wanted to create a school where children could have an impact on the world around them. So we created a school with the mantra that children can create beautiful work that can have an impact on the world around them.” – Ed Fidoe, founder of School 21

Virgin Disrupters: The Future Of Education

12. “Education isn’t about a thing, its about a relationship. It isn’t about putting something in, it’s about calling something fourth. It isn’t about one size fits all, its about uniqueness. It’s not about abstractions; it’s about embodied learning. And its about the implicit being as important as the explicit.” –Iain McGilchrist


Want to see more? Check out the highlights from the debate below!

Have you been making a big change in your community?  Tell us about it! Email emily@big-change org.

Photography: Owen Billcliffe