Breakthrough Ideas for September 2014


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We said in Part 1 that the purpose of excellent education is to add to the workforce/citizenry well-informed, highly skilled, trainable, poised, fully evolved and accountable problem solvers who can think for themselves and rise to the occasion as leaders of value — and proactively lead by example — whenever necessary.

You just witnessed an efficiency, capacity building and public speaking masterclass by a man whose first language isn't even English. Done without breaking a single drop of sweat. Delivered by a man who values that thing so many take for granted. That thing we call education.

Many learn to read, write or use a technology device only to go online and randomly insult total strangers, scheme against the interests of people whose life burdens (and Monsieur Kéré's offers a reason to pause and reflect) they neither are aware of, or care to be empathic about. We also know with regard to bad judgment today that PCs/Web/Mobile Phone & Cameras ACCENTUATE Human Stupidity. Put 'em in Consumers' hands, and you have Nude Leaks: Celebrities & Everybody Else. Or in the case of sadists, covertly or overtly cheer them on. Meanwhile, in Mainland China, many learn English only to avoid the 'ordeal' of communicating with a foreigner on a bus or subway saying: “Sorry. I don't speak English.”

Mainland Chinese always laugh when I say that because it resonates.

Or, unaware prior to being their mentor, I had the privilege of working with and/or training Malaysian, Singaporean, Hong Kong and other diaspora Chinese including Taiwanese and Mainland Chinese in America, Britain and Africa as well as Japanese, Koreans and Filipinos, I often get the “You know China is a developing country” excuse when we confront and discuss red tape, English as a problem-solving tool and making an impact however meager the tools at one's disposal. And one way I deal with that is to show (whenever time and circumstances permit) lots of image and video examples of regions and people who are much poorer, yet intellectually and developmentally more determined to make an impact with much less. And so going back to my definition of being well-educated:

By “fully evolved we mean being civilized, purpose-driven and demonstrating great social skills as well as committment to the public good. Like this young man, this young woman, this familiar face, and needless to say, the above speaker. Further, by poised we mean: ready, able and daring even when vulnerable, albeit with good judgment competencies. Readiness for example, often comes up as a desired Microsoft new hire trait. Google it.

Is it any wonder that like self-taught Sierra Leonean Engineer/whizkid DJ Man Focus (AKA Kelvin Doe) in Breakthrough Ideas for November 2012, Diébédo Francis Kéré continues to rise to the occasion by solving his community's and other African problems on a shoestring? Passionately accomplishing that feat by engaging and teaching people to shift their paradigm from a fixed mindset to a growth mindset?

This is why unlike others, I make no distinction between Teaching and Training. Because the focus of every great educator is facilitating results and problem-solving ability. Theoretical know-how, albeit vital, is swallowed up by the emphasis on impact and useful outcomes.

The truth hurts, and the sad irony is that an accomplished architect and educator like this man, would have a hard time translating his passion into a good living in countries like China in particular, based on his skin color alone.

However, Diébédo Francis Kéré has used education, which he values, and German generosity, which he has more than repaid, to empower, educate, lead and beautify his community and Africa, making it much better than he found it.

This is what rising to the occasion looks like. And if this also isn't true leadershipadvanced problem-solving leadership — and education and training done right, I don't know what is.

○ ○ ○Teaching Done Right (Part 3)(Follow the Dove)


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