Educating to Be Human


Our vision for Big Ideas Fest has always been to break through the comfort zone of typical education conferences—with the goal of creating a space to empower educators, catalyze collaboration, and spur innovation. Earlier this year we had not imagined that in December, we would be reeling from the impact of a growing backlash against tolerance, equal rights for all, truth-seeking, and freedom of expression.

Those of us committed to education as a means to bring about social justice, democracy, and equality must confront the challenge in terms of articulating and putting into practice what Educating to Be Human means in a globally connected world today. At this year’s Big Ideas Fest we will look at education and innovation in the context of what it means to be human while clearly articulating the need for education to support humanity not merely to survive, but to thrive as a democracy and as a civilization. Our goal is not to definitively answer the question but by asking the question, we will have a greater understanding and be more informed to direct our actions when we leave Big Ideas Fest.

You might feel as I do, like Sisyphus forced to roll a boulder up the hill only to have it roll back again on top of him for eternity. But I’m driven by a strong sense that our education systems need to embrace not only the pursuit of academic achievement but also those things that are uniquely human, such as compassion, kindness, empathy, grit, and bravery. And that our imperative is to redirect our focus not only on innovation but on being human in the world today.

My hope for Big Ideas Fest this year is that collectively we can grow stronger, innovate, and build together as we focus on the not so self-evident task of being human, from social emotional learning, to conflict resolution, to addressing the racism, bigotry, sexism, and homophobia that threatens our humanness. As educators and innovators, it is our responsibility to provide more than knowledge. Especially in these times, we need to actively be educating to be human as well.

I'm proud of the program we've put together this year, you can view it here.

December 01, 2016