One of the great delights in my working life is working with other professionals, to achieve more together than we could as individuals. Besides, with the right people it is enormous fun, as was precisely the case last Thursday, when the lovely Matthew Savage and I co-presented a session for school leaders at an education conference. We spoke on the topic of ‘Managing Your School Board’, drawing on the work we have been doing as we prepare assiduously for our 5 week #betterboards online course for Board members of international schools, launching in the New Year. And – even though I say it myself – we managed our session really well! It felt utterly enjoyable to co-present, passing the baton to one another, and back again, from one slide to the next; it was a little like a conversation with an upbeat, positive purpose – which, now I come to think about it, is a fairly accurate summary of the videos we have recorded for the course. I derive huge joy from being able to create understanding through thinking about, articulating and sharing ideas in discussion with others – it was great!
You will already have guessed that it was a virtual event – a conference, that was, no less, hosted in Jakarta – GESS Indonesia. Aside from the slight inconvenience of the time difference necessitating us each in rising to the wintry cold of 5am, Matthew in London, I in Edinburgh, ready to sparkle and perform to the world at 6am, everything about the conference went swimmingly. The emails from the organiser provided us with efficient links to the presentation platform, where our PowerPoint slides, saved in fact as PDFs, were pre-loaded, and where we could be heard and seen loudly and clearly through the microphones and cameras in our computers. A few WhatsApp messages beforehand allowed us to check we were both ready; a Zoom call afterwards gave us the chance to debrief. We were able to achieve what up to a mere few years ago would have been impossible – appearing in person, at a moment’s notice, live, halfway round the world, from different points of origin, and communicating as naturally and easy as if we were sitting in the same room. The technology, quite frankly, was phenomenal.
We all know this, of course; it has become almost a throwaway remark to say that there is more technology in a slim mobile phone than on Apollo 11 when it took humans to the moon for the first time. But how often do we stop and reflect with utter gratitude on the curiosity, imagination, determination and perseverance of all of the people who have made this technology happen. The creators of today’s technology, of course, but also those who have stretched the boundaries of the possible over the centuries – millennia – from the very birth of humanity onwards. Today’s tech-makers sit on the giant shoulders of countless inventors, thinkers, experimenters and learners; everything we can do today in the world of technology is possible because of the human spirit of adventure and exploration, in whose footsteps the makers of technology today are following – forging ahead, connecting the world, helping (when they turn their skills to good use) solve the problems we have created over years when we have gone astray. Quite simply, you are amazing.
And so, my daily gratitude list today starts with a simple shout-out to you all … thank you, tech-makers! Long may you code and create for the good of the human race …