I’m still haunted by a quiet little lad in a year 3 class I worked with in a challenged primary school in our 'Rocket Kids' session recently, which itself was inspired by generations, by a book that my 84 year old dad found in the Oxfam bookshop he volunteers in.
This lad, let's call him Ted.
Ted was sat on a table on his own, while everyone else was sat on tables working in teams of 3-4.
On asking a teacher, it turned out Ted had just been taken into care for his own safety. And was sitting on his own for his class mates’ safety because he had behavioural issues due to his background challenges of his home life.
He could talk to himself.
But Ted wanted to do so much more.
What a sad, vicious circle.
Care? Who cares?
Well Ted did as I was later passed this note.
He made one of the best rockets and really came out of himself when the head teacher came in, expressed interest and told Ted what a great job he'd done on what was a school day that would most likely stay with him for the rest of his life.
But would it inspire Ted? To do what? What could he do?
Ted's head teacher said he'd be happy if just 3-4 of the school's children went on to be an engineer or scientist after my visit.
To seize the amazing opportunities on offer nearby in Wolverhampton and Birmingham, where a team of artists and innovators I met on the way home at Birmingham City University are building a £50m STEAM House faculty in a derelict factory just a stone’s throw from the glitzy Bull Ring Selfridges.
A place to foster new ways of learning and creative and collaborative ways of working. Not sitting at desks alone.
There are a lot of kids like Ted out there who need this. And we need to inspire generations to inspire these generations.So we were blown away when STEAM Co. was invited to partner with #TEDxNorwichEd, the UK's only TED education event this year with the theme ‘Inspiring Generations’.
With the generous support of Barclays, Google, National Grid, Schools network SSAT, University of the Arts Norwich and Cass Art, we packed up our Drop Truck and headed to Norwich.
The day featured the most amazing talks, including two from STEAM Co. advisers Hannah Wilson on diversity and Jazz Ampaw Farr on resilience backed up by her story on being fired by Lord Sugar in the first episode of a series of the Apprentice (and when you see her talk you’ll see why. And probably shed more than a tear)
Taking to the stage with a hero
Given that Sir Ken Robinson's No1 TED talk on creativity in education inspired me to embark on this journey seven years ago, I was delighted when he and TED prize winner Prof Sugata Mitra endorsed me for a TED Fellowship last year.
But my real TED moment came last week.
Inspired by a selfie movie by Jaz Ampaw-Farr and a killer chart topping tune, this film of me on stage with amazing creative guru Tom Morley (from 80's band Scritti Politti) captures the weekend and gives a flavour of why we believe the UK should celebrate creativity and how it can engage all our children, innovate business and connect communities.
Through our Inspirator programme we want to take the creative inspiration of the UK's world class creatives like Tom to inspire the Teds in every UK primary school. And we have a plan for that.
Time to scale
We've established and proven the idea for STEAM Co.
Now to prove it can scale.
Then to roll it out to every corner of the country.
We really need to put a Drop-Truck and a STEAMster to run sessions like the one that engaged Ted, in 3-4 key pilot areas around the UK - probably initially the Black Country, North East, South West and South Coast with us covering London.
We’re looking for grants and sponsorship from brands and businesses that share our vision for creativity in education, business and community.
Brands, businesses and people, who care.
And for the understandably hard-nosed business people and their KPI’s; working with STEAM Co. works, across brand, CSR and Employee Engagement objectives.
So that’ll be tick, tick, tick in your performance review then. ;-)
As Seth Godin says in our film above “Are you going to matter, I hope you will”
Yes, it’s your turn.
Enough talking like TED. Who’s walking with Ted?