2 Inspiring Educators with Lessons About Learning for Everyone

By Tytus Michalski,

At the recent Yidan Prize Summit, I had a chance to hear from Professor Carol S. Dweck and Vicky Colbert who were chosen as the first ever Laureates of this award. It’s about time that the top education practitioners are treated as superstars, though they were both extremely humble despite all the attention.

Vicky Colbert is the founder and director of Fundación Escuela Nueva. With roots in rural Colombia from 1975, her practical approach has been changing lives ever since. As one person commented during the awards video of classrooms using the philosophy: “the kids look so happy!”

The most well known work of Professor Carol S. Dweck of Stanford is about psychological mindset, especially the difference between a growth and a fixed mindset. As the awards event made clear, her overall contribution and influence in terms of both ideas and implementation across education is both broad and deep.

Importantly, their speeches and discussion contained lessons for us all — here are some of my key takeaways from their talks over the two day event.

1. Education of children transforms society today, not just in the future

It’s obvious that our children will one day be the leaders of society and so by definition education is key to transforming the future. But the message from the two Laureates is that children can be agents of change for society today — right now. Under this approach, children are proactive participants in social reform. Vicky gave an example of how children were important participants for improving healthcare awareness and treatment in rural parts of Colombia.

2. Expanding the status quo is not the goal

Governments love to talk about how they are spending more money on education. The unfortunate problem is that simple expansion of the current system is not the answer. The global education system has badly lagged changes in the rest of society. More of the public and private sector investment should be focused on better, not simply bigger.

3. The right to learn is global — across culture, religion, race

A clear message from the Yidan Prize event was the universal importance of education across all traditional boundaries of culture, religion, and race. Of course there are always local nuances when it comes to implementation but the core desire to learn and right to learn transcend barriers.

4. Problem solving focus

When asked about what the goal of learning and education should be, the answers from Carol and Vicky emphasized solving practical problems in today’s world. That has absolutely been our philosophy at Fresco Capital and I hope we have more students, educators, and parents who embrace this goal.

5. Co-operative learning and teamwork

If we aspire to have leaders of society who understand the benefits of co-operation, wouldn’t it make sense to start that habit at a young age? Both Laureates highlighted the power of team based learning in contrast to the traditional emphasis on individual performance. They also led by example by exploring collaboration opportunities across their respective areas of focus during the conference.

6. Teacher and student roles should change

The role of teachers needs to change. To be clear, the message is not about replacing teachers with technology. Instead, students should be more active learners. This then allows teachers to support and listen to children as they learn.

7. Test theories in real life

There are many elegant theories about learning and education. Both of these educators are consistent in their rigorous approach to use real life for testing theories. They are not content with ideas alone — the focus is tangible outcomes and results.

8. Opportunity to think big

The most inspiring lesson was to see these very successful leaders accept their awards, and then very quickly focus on thinking bigger for an even larger impact on society. Far from being content and satisfied, their curiosity and determination remains unwavering.

The first Yidan Prize Laureates set a high bar for everyone else involved in learning and education (which technically includes all of us). If we each reach just a fraction of their impact, we have the potential to create an exponential positive compound effect for generations into the future.

2 Inspiring Educators with Lessons About Learning for Everyone was originally published in Fusion by Fresco Capital on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

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Behind the Scenes at Nanosatellite Company Spire

By Fusion by Fresco Capital,

I first connected with Peter Platzer in 2012 during the early days of Spire, before any of the company’s nanosatellites were actually in space. We hit it off immediately, and very quickly this led to an investment by us at Fresco Capital. There are many teams with big dreams, but Peter and the Spire team are one of the few teams that consistently execute those big dreams. In addition to launching and managing a constellation of nanosatellites, the satellite-powered data company has built a truly global business with offices across Asia, Europe and North America.

Here’s a recent Q&A I had with Peter.

When most people think of satellites, they think of very large and expensive projects that only governments can afford. What has changed in the past 15 years and why?

Nanosatellites are about the size of a bottle of wine and since 2014, there have been more nanosatellites launches than traditional large ones. With nanosatellite being far more affordable, this has dramatically changed the number of space faring nations, companies, and even individuals!

The two biggest reasons for that is the integration of new technologies from other industries and the creation of the CubeSat standard. Components from smartphones, drones, and robotics have made it possible to build an incredibly powerful satellite in a fraction of the time at a fraction of the price — it is still quite a bit or rocket science, but simply by replacing the need for lots of money with the need for lots of ingenuity and brain, it opened access for innovation from the private sector to space. Secondly, when it comes time to launch, there are now opportunities to share a ride in almost every space-faring country because the standard form factor is now a well-known and accepted by over a dozen launch vehicles.

Image Credit: Spire Global

You are originally from Europe and have lived in both Asia and North America. How does that influence your perspective of which country or countries Spire considers home?

When I was a teenager I came to my father with my passport and said “I’d like it to say ‘Peter Platzer, citizen of earth”. This was the time before the fall of the wall, my home town being just 45’ away from the Iron Curtain. An avid reader of both science and science fiction this separation between me in wealthy Vienna and others just 45’ drive away made no sense. Since then I travelled to over 60 countries and worked extensively in 7 countries on 3 continents. Clearly this has deeply influenced my thinking, curiosity, and appreciation for different cultures, norms, perspectives. And while I don’t think that my background influenced my perspective on Spire’s ‘home country’ it has certainly influenced the type of problem I want to solve and the type of company I would want to start. So from the beginning it was very clear that Spire needed to be a global company, with global customers, global operations, a global talent pool, solving global problems. Its home country is Earth.

Image credit: Spire Global

The transformation of the space industry is likely be a much needed catalyst for job creation in the future. What should governments, schools and parents be doing to make sure that their children are well prepared for these new job opportunities?

The best thing that schools can do is to keep kids engaged with technology. We need people who can code, build electronics, and understand complex systems. Thankfully there are great minds in ed-tech, like Ardusat.com, working on this problem. We put an educational payload into every satellite because investing in children’s passion for science and technology is an investment in our future.

Image Credit: Spire Global

Anything related to space has a huge amount of global and national regulations. Recently, startups in other industries have been hurt by not following regulations. How do you approach the challenge of innovating in a highly regulated industry?

It’s always going to be difficult to deal with a highly regulated industry like aerospace but it is worth reminding yourself that the regulations were created for a reason. When we run into a roadblock, we talk with people. It’s often the case that no one even imagined a world with nanosatellites when they wrote the rules. So far we have found regulators to be very keen on understanding and supporting New Space, even though they often have to work with regulations that are anachronistic to today’s rapid pace of space technology development.

Image Credit: Spire Global

Many technology companies struggle with having diversity in the team. Spire, as a space company, is obviously working on some very advanced technology, so how does the company approach the issue of talent diversity?

Our approach to talent is to hire the best people and to build a heterogeneous team. Research has showed that heterogeneous teams consistently outperform homogeneous teams. Our team now consists of people from 18 countries and counting. It is also worth noting that from our perspective, diversity comes far more in the form of different personalities, approaches to problems, situations, desires, and aspirations, that differences visible on the outside. We measure diversity far more by the “content of the book” rather than “the cover of the book”, something that we think is often forgotten in the diversity debate.

Image Credit: Spire Global

What benefits do you think this new technology will be bringing to companies, government, and people in the next 1–3 years?

Nanosatellites are bringing about a sea-change in how much data is available from space to benefit mankind. Its like switching from a 1950 black and white silent movie to a 2015 4k 3D IMAX movie. Many of those benefits are yet to be discovered, but simply imagine a world were no airplane is ever lost again, global shipping is running on half the emissions because of route optimisation, our oceans are replenished in fish stock thanks to eradicating illegal fishing, and weather forecasts are as accurate as swiss train schedules, allowing you to never be late for a date (or miss a shipping to a customer). And those are just the areas that one company, Spire, is working on. We are certain that many more areas will be positively impacted by the wide-spread use of nanosatellites, similarly as the widespread use of the PC instead of the mainframe brought about the internet.

Thank you for reading!

Our portfolio companies including Spire are always on the lookout for top talent and also partnership opportunities. To learn more, get in touch.

Image credit: Spire Global

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