Closely Aligned Though Worlds Apart

Guest Correspondence

BY JENNIFER VIGNE SRQ DAILY SATURDAY PERSPECTIVES EDITION SATURDAY JUN 11, 2016

"Our fate can be different; but only if we start doing things differently." Notable author Thomas L. Friedman heeds this warning in his book The World is Flat: A Brief History of the Twenty-first Century which stirred the Education Foundation of Sarasota County to address this plain truth with a new perspective.

With generous support by Michael and Terri Klauber, the Education Foundation of Sarasota County hosted TED talk presenter Kate Groch this past week. Kate is a passionate visionary and educator who shares similar values with the Education Foundationa dedicated commitment to unlocking the potential of every child. As the founder and CEO of the Good Work Foundation, Kate’s life passion is educating the children who live in the rural countryside of South Africa, and her students are dispelling the notion that one’s birthplace determines one’s future.

At these South African digital learning centers, students are embracing a culture where learning is fun. This culture positions teachers as facilitators, shared learning is supported and connections with the real world are daily lessons. As Thomas L. Friedman continues in his book, "nobody works harder at learning than a curious kid." At schools in places such as Hazyview and Londolozi, this philosophy is upheld by the belief that education is wonder-FUL and wonder-FILLED. 

Kate and I were energized by the conversations we had at our gathering, quickly recognizing that the possibilities to demonstrably show our shared commitment to educating the next generation of leadersthe future doctors, farmers, parents, teachers, artists, scientists, coders and morecould be accomplished together. Disputing an old adage, "How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time," Kate reminded us that if we proceeded that way, the elephant would rot before it could be devoured. If we really want to eat an elephant, we need to invite a friend to join us. That’s true collective impact in action! 

The Education Foundation of Sarasota County will be continuing the conversation with Kate and exploring ways to be shared investors and stewards of our planet by equipping our children and our teachers with opportunities they once never before thought possible.

We now live in an information age where automation, computation and globalization has made our world highly connected and smaller than ever before. We are excited about our future and share Kate’s belief that education needs a world-wide shift. "It’s only impossible if you believe it is," says the Mad Hatter in Alice in Wonderland. We firmly believe that when we transform the impossible into the possible, our fate will indeed be different.

Jennifer Vigne is executive director of the Education Foundation of Sarasota County.

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