The frozen man chronicle: a personal insight about future's education
I’ve been working in the educational field for almost a decade now, and even though I’m a communications major and specialist, it is simply impossible to excel in this area without deeply understanding pedagogical needs and urges. I recall plenty of remarkable situations when looking at my professional past, but one of those is consistently getting back to my head on a daily basis, due to the monumental changes educators were forced to face due to the pandemics.
I was nothing but a young analyst, still fresh from college, when this moment came to life. It was during a speech from a C-level executive, to a crowd of no one but me. We were locked up in a meeting room after a huge company checkpoint. People from other areas started leaving the place at a fast pace, heading for other appointments. I asked politely if we could stay just the two of us for a few minutes, because I wanted to share a presentation about an innovative idea I had. Funny fact: I don’t remember what the subject was, but I had that passionate feeling about creating new solutions and was as idealistic as any person could be in their early twenties.
The executive listened to my pitch carefully, paying attention to every point that I brought to conversation and questioning whenever I wasn’t clear enough. I had the courage to ask for that conversation in a moment of pure - and potentially inconsequent - braveness, but was clearly apprehensive and anxious about exposing my ideas. A fact that was easily perceived by my audience, but she (I hadn't mentioned her gender before, but did you picture her as a woman? That says a lot about society) kindly tried to make me as comfortable as possible. She proved herself to be a great leader. I finished the presentation and she started pointing out with solid arguments why the project wouldn’t work.
As you might imagine, I wasn’t feeling very happy about my performance or that poorly drawn solution I thought would change the world. First things first: to improve something, you need to have a good understanding of it - and I was still too naive at that time. But then we came to this incredible moment, when aware of my verging autosabotage, she interfered:
“Hey, let me tell you a story. Once upon a time there was this urban guy living in the 1800s London. He had to go to the countryside for some business purpose, and he didn’t know that area quite well. It was a harsh winter. One day, he went on a walk near the woods, and eventually had to face a blizzard. Not knowing the area, he tried to run away, but suddenly stepped into a frozen lake. The ice started breaking and he fell into the water.
Over 200 years have passed and a fisherman, in the very same lake, grabs a fish that is fighting back really hard against the hook. He’s experienced in battling big fishes, so he patiently pulls the animal towards his direction, but you can’t imagine his surprise when he finds out that the fish was actually a large block of ice, containing a fully preserved human being inside, with a rather strange set of clothes! Police are called and the frozen man is redirected to scientists, who immediately start a battery of tests with the subject. Surprisingly, he was still alive! The ice lowered his heart beat to a point of almost inexistence, but it was still beating.
Some medical procedures were started to awaken the guy from his coma, and the doctors reached this goal in ten days. The scientists started to lecture him about all the historical facts the world had gone through during the centuries he was asleep. And just imagine dealing with that, it’s just too much information. In history classes, we have lessons about the past, but this guy was learning the future! They tried really hard to adapt that human to the brand new, techy, and advanced global society that we became, but he wouldn’t fit in any possible scenario. Things were just too different to be bearable for him. He’s almost going insane, so scientists are desperately trying to figure out how to make him feel better about everything. One of them has a brilliant idea! So they put the over 200 years old man in a car, and drove him to a nearby school. When he enters a classroom, he finally feels at his time again, because almost nothing about that space has changed in the last couple of centuries”.
She giggled a little, and looked me in the eyes.
“What I’m trying to say is that the educational business is too traditionalist and somewhat old-fashioned at some points, and there’s a long way for us to provide groundbreaking, lifechanging, and innovation-based improvements. You shouldn’t mind about your idea being rejected, it’s more important to keep the spirit alive towards revolution”.
That conversation was mind blowing. Ever since, I kept seeking daily improvement, but now always considering all the contexts and nuances to each and every situation.
I never really understood why students were treated like they were exactly the same. Individuality has to be a part of the equation when we are growing new human beings. When we think about countries that lead the education charts worldwide - like Finland, for example -, the learning process supports the children giving them as much autonomy as possible since very early ages.
Autonomy and Personalization. Those are the key aspects for developing healthier society in the future - that hopefully will also be able to picture women as C-level executives just as much as men. Last but not least, there’s a third element to this equation, and you might have already guessed it: Technology.
In 2021, while searching for educational solutions, I crossed paths with Ann-Education. After reading a short paragraph about the company’s vision, I fell in love with the purpose of creating content - and therefore education - that is futureproof. I went to their website and it talked back to me in so many different ways that I wouldn’t be able to describe accurately. It sparked that same fire that was pulsating through my heart in the beginning of this text. I felt in my late teens again.
I ran to LinkedIn, because I really needed to meet the people behind the idea, and that’s when I met Yotam Shtayner, Ann’s CEO. I messaged him about how in love I was with their mission to reinvent learning. We quickly arranged a call, and I was quite stunned about the possibility of working with such a great idea. We clicked right away, and a couple of weeks later, I started to make my best efforts to improve the company’s communication.
It’s been a thrill! I’m witnessing technology take its part in providing both autonomy and personalization to teachers and students in different countries and continents.
“We are living in an era where people have access to infinite unfiltered information - and there will be even more in the next few years. It’s very necessary to have guardians of good content working in the benefit of society - like textbook publishers and learning platforms.
Technology has a big part in providing gamification, motivation, and new media channels for the content leaders, but we must remember the data. Artificial Intelligence can learn about students in a way that would be impossible for humans. Analyzing millions of data points at the same time, recognizing patterns, and giving valuable insights to teachers and educators about each student and the class as a whole. New pedagogical practices can appear from this data, points of attention that couldn’t possibly be noted by human sight”.
That’s what Yotam told me in our most recent conversation. It’s not some cyberpunk chaotic alter reality. Technology should be our ally when building a better future. Maybe we will make the world a little less cozy to that 1800s man, but we can’t, for sure, stay frozen in time.
Head of Communication at Ann