When you get a chance to be around people of great minds, of great hearts and of overall greatness, you get a moment to reflect. Not about the people themselves, but what they represent and what they stand for.
I had an amazing opportunity to attend the Global Skills & Education Forum in Dubai for 2 days of what I thought would be a normal conference but became a mind changing experience for me as a Baba, a writer, an educator and a friend.
I was given the chance from a good man who believed in me as a dad and a parent who believes that education is the future for our kids. He believed that I wanted to do great things in the Dubai community and I’m very proud that he has become a friend and also a mentor.
Let me start with the people I met, that I would never normally hang out with when we do the school run or when I end up with the #GucciPatrol, but I met educators from Gems and specifically Gems Royal Dubai. They helped me understand what teachers go through but also where we, as parents, can create a better educating experience alongside them.
We met people that have changed me. Listening to a talk from #BringBackOurGirls on the terrible abductions of young girls from Nigeria and how important education of children no matter your where you live, no matter what you do, everywhere is part of all of our future. Girls everywhere need to know that they can make a difference no matter what!
The Forum was arranged to support and celebrate educators all over the world, some in the most dire of circumstances and others just wanting to know a better way to teach kids.
All of the teachers are celebrated and you can see the nominations of these amazing people here http://www.globalteacherprize.org/2017-finalists/
What I found remarkable was listening to Maggie Macdonnell from Canada who walked away with a gift she would soon make way to support education. #TeachersMatter
She shared with us words that were not entirely captured here but her emotion was.
I was able to learn so many things over these days but I now understood how not only the vision of The Ministry of Education but also how we were going to go forward as a world with our next generation.
We talked and even moved into a focus on Happiness for us and for our kids.
Don’t forget physical motivation. This got us going and talking and having fun. It also let us find ways to get our kids moving and thinking and learning about new cultures and parts of the world.
We had fun, we danced, we all had late nights but we all met each other that created a common ground – drive, passion, perseverance and the need to make goals come to life.
When listening to Thomas L. Friedman talk about “If you’re not educating people for a job that doesn’t exist yet, you’re not educating people”. If you have ever had a chance to understand what this means, great, if not read about him. He made me believe that education will happen whether you like it or not and it’s our job to help make sure it happens in a positive way.
I’m sarcastic most of the time, an observer and I’m a writer but what I didn’t understand was how great people can be being crazy together, learning in what is a cohesive and unified environment and with people that want to see parents and educators work together. Sunny Varkey from the Varkey Foundation shed a lot of light on why this forum made sense and that we could have fun in the process.
Dr Abdulla from KHDA is launching a Teach Together initiative where he will have his CV and he will be an assistant t0 any teacher (no pressure!). What I like about this is that I know that he would be just that. He doesn’t want anything other than being able to teach together and help.
I still feel like I’m on a cloud after this. I still feel like when I’m writing this, that I felt included, that I felt we could make a difference as educators, parents and a community
I also have a better understanding that being a teacher is not easy. Being an educator or an advocate for education anywhere in the world is not easy.
As parents, we may be paying for education, we may be financing from abroad, we may be just paying to get 1 textbook until we make enough money to get another, but we are all educators.
We are all putting something in the mind of a child that will never be changed and every thing that we do for them now, will stay with them in whatever way that is. Make it full of positivity in any small or big way you can.
We get an opportunity as parents to play a part in that.
I’m not saying – bring an apple to your child’s teacher. I’m saying, we should, as parents, teach our kids why they should bring an apple and say thank you for giving them knowledge. We should appreciate how important these people are in the lives of our children and children that don’t even have parents anymore.
We get time to create a memory. We get time to influence. It takes a smile or a caring hand or just listening to see how your child or any child may need you.