Just the other day I was reminded of the importance of not becoming too set in my ways. As human beings it can be easy to become set in our ways. I have been using the same brand/type of razor blade for maybe 30 years and I have become programmed to buy the same refills each time. Well, the other day at the store they were out of my brand and I nearly panicked. Instead of running around to different stores I took the plunge, bought a new razor with refills and decided that I would give them a try. The price was actually the same as my “tried and true”model. The next day, Voilá, I had the best shave ever. The new blades smoothly cut my 5 day stubble. I don’t know why I waited to long to make a change.
Just a simple reminder that it’s important to stay in touch with progress and new technologies.
It’s no secret that I am always looking for examples of innovation. Since moving to Tanzania I have been frustrated about having to use cash with most of my transactions. It’s even more difficult here in TZ because $1 USD = 2,230 TZH. I leave the bank with stacks of 10,000 TZH bills. I had heard a buzz about M-Pesa but had no idea how it worked. My first instinct was to search the App store for M-Pesa. I later realized that if this service was an App, it would not have succeeded. That’s because tens of millions of cellphone users in Africa use basic cellphones.
I just returned from a small local store where there was a line for people to either deposit or withdraw cash through M-Pesa. I just deposited money into my wife’s cellphone number so that she can pay her hotel bill in Karatu, TZ. According to my wife, Karatu is in the middle of nowhere near the Ngorongoro Crater.
M-Pesa was launched by mobile operators Safaricom and Vodaphone in 2007. Neither company is in the banking industry but this innovative has become the world’s leading money service. The system simply transfers money from one phone to another. If the statistics above aren’t convincing that this innovation has had a huge impact and changed the way that users do business, take a look at this study by Professor Tanveet Suri from MIT.
The developers created software that could be used by existing cellphone technology to transform the economies of countries throughout the developing world.
My former boss, Brett Jacobsen always said that we don’t connect the dots until afterwards. When we are planning for the future we can’t know exactly what the final product will look like. We can’t predict the future. It is hard to believe that just over two years ago I stepped into the role of the Head of Upper School at Mount Vernon Presbyterian School. As a school of “inquiry, innovation and impact” it was a match made in heaven. For years I had been chasing the dream of transforming education for our students and Mount Vernon was just what I was searching for. Each and every day I had the opportunity to work with a talented team of educators to push boundaries to constructively answer these three questions. How might we …
- make school more reflective of real life.
- empower all learners to be seekers and explorers.
- inspire one another — and the larger world — through the work we undertake.
I had the pleasure of continuing work where students could explore their passions with iProjects, developing interdisciplinary courses, watching students partner with outside organizations to develop ideas and create was inspiring, creating meaningful project based learning was fun, using design thinking to develop creative solutions made sense, and where studying assessment for the future was beyond the trees.
The work was challenging and rewarding.
So, no one would have predicted that by July 2017 I would be on safari for new teacher orientation in Mikumi National Park. I never would have predicted that path back in 2015.
I never would have guessed that my family and I would move to Dar es Salaam, Tanzania where I would be the Secondary Principal at the International School of Tanganyika. IST is another amazing school but very different than MVPS. We strive to “challenge, inspire and support all students to fulfill their potential and improve the world.” At IST our curriculum is based on the International Baccalaureate Primary, Middle Years and Diploma Programs. There are 60 different nationalities represented in the student body and the faculty hails from 20 different countries. Like MVPS, I anticipate that the work will be challenging and rewarding.
After spending 14 years working at three different international schools outside the United States it feels like we’ve found our niche. While our time in Atlanta was an adventure, our life here in Dar will be an uber-adventure. Now that the transition is over I’m ready to share my learning again.