From education to employment

Opportunity for new Biden administration to shine a spotlight on education

By Alice Barnard, CEO of the Edge Foundation

All eyes have been on the U.S election with much excitement, trepidation and anticipation but with the election of Joe Biden and Kamala Harris, there is now the opportunity to move towards a peaceful transition and to find common ground.

Throughout the election campaign, both Biden and Harris spoke passionately about unity and the importance of debate and democracy; these values will be needed to bring the country back together.

But these are also important values and lessons for life.

We want to equip our children to make hard choices, to be leaders, community focussed, to stand up for what they think is right but also to learn skills like team work, resilience and empathy. In the end these are the qualities that will help change the world.

For the new Democratic administration, Education will surely remain an important topic, and the Democrats have already pledged that it is “government’s responsibility to ensure that every child, everywhere, is able to receive a world-class education that enables them to lead meaningful lives”.

In January, Joe Biden will face an extraordinary set of challenges, with a global pandemic, an unequal economy and society, a democracy at risk, and a climate at peril.

A powerful education and skills system supporting everyone towards a “meaningful life” will remain a powerful lever in resolving these challenges.

First Lady in waiting, Dr Jill Biden: “being a teacher is not what I do, but who I am”

Not only this, but the First Lady in waiting, Dr Jill Biden is also passionate about education and has dedicated her own career to teaching, highlighting in her memoir that “being a teacher is not what I do, but who I am”.

As an educator for over 30 years, and currently a teacher at a community college, her passion for education shines through. And Dr Biden is already translating words into action by announcing her intention to continue teaching while she is First lady.

This will make her the only First Lady to have a paid job outside of the White House. With education as one of her key White House causes, she has an opportunity to put education back onto the agenda and to support the profession by raising its challenges and the opportunities that it provides to the attention of the masses.

In addition, Kamala Harris’ historic win blasted through multiple barriers, making her the first woman, but also the first Black woman and first South Asian American woman to become vice-president-elect. Again, leading by example she will offer an important role model to a generation of young people and particularly young women all over the world, demonstrating that anyone can be a successful leader and taken seriously, regardless of race or gender.

Certainly, these are exciting times ahead and the new administration have an opportunity to shine a light on the importance of education. By doing this, we can encourage the skills and values needed to become engaged citizens of our community, country and planet.

Earlier, we mentioned core values such as team work, resilience, empathy. At the Edge Foundation, we are thrilled to have partnered with Ashoka, to grow ‘changemaker’ education and inspire changemaking behaviours in young people so they grow up to become empathetic, creative and community-oriented leaders.

You can view a recent conversation between brilliant young Changemaker Aliyah York and Lord Jim Knight here:

In addition, to respond to urgent challenges such as the climate crisis mentioned above, our annual lecture will investigate how educators are using the environment as a context for learning. 

Alice Barnard, CEO of the Edge Foundation

Alice Barnard is Chief Executive Officer at the Edge Foundation, an independent education charity dedicated to making learning relevant and developing young people with the skills and attitudes they need to succeed in the 21st Century. 

Please join us on Wednesday 9th December 13.30-15.00, together with our keynote speaker Sir Tim Smit to explore “Seeding Change – the environment as a context for learning“. You can book your place here.

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