The best talks I’ve ever heard always had one thing in common- they gave me goose-bumps and made me teary-eyed! The topics have ranged from technology (yes nerd-alert!) to politics- but most recently- it was education. Yesterday I attended the SxSWEdu Education Expo and sat in on a series of presentations. When Sarah Mabry walked on stage, the first thing I noticed was the bold-white frame of the eye-glasses she was sporting and the second thing was her magician-robe styled outfit. When the third sentence in her speech was “Sarah Mabry is not a wizard”, I knew this was going to be interesting! I wasn’t prepared for inspirational. Ms.Mabry was kind enough to share a written copy of her speech with me- but there were lines she uttered that aren’t contained in the text I now possess. Here are some of my favorites from her presentation:
“A nation is ONLY as strong as its educational foundation”
These are powerful words. She did reiterate this line three times. The message they contain is beyond powerful- it carries an urgency that cannot and should not be ignored. From 2008-2013, the United States fell from being #1 amongst 48 countries in its Global Competitiveness Index ranking to #5 (per the World Economic Forum). Let’s not forget that economic strength is valuable political capital.
“We are all stakeholders- so we must all be investors”
Yes this gave me those goosebumps. There is no doubt that our children are our future. Providing them with the resources to do better than we could is a fundamental responsibility that we all shoulder- as adults, parents, teachers and citizens. Unfortunately, the availability of these resources and opportunities appears to be in sync with the socio-economic divide. We know that the profile of the student population is projected to be over 50% non-Anglo American in the next 20 years and we also know that a majority of the disadvantaged youth population belongs to that same demographic bracket. Talk about predictive analytics- this is a pattern staring us in the face- and one we cannot afford to ignore.
“From those who have been given much, much is expected”
Slightly reminiscent of the Spiderman dialogue “With great power comes great responsibility”!! I think Ms.Mabry’s version is clearly a call to action. The challenges that our educational system faces today are not (and never have been) limited to the socially, economically, linguistically deprived sections of society. It’s a national emergency that requires everyone to listen, participate and contribute.