This guy’s mad – but worth listening to…


I took a moment over lunch today to watch this recently released TED talk video. It's of Dr Geoffrey Canada, President of the Harlem Children's Zone in New York. Raised in poverty and the son of an alcoholic father, Canada introduces himself as black and mad. What he's mad about is the state of education, and the fact that few people seem to be bothered to do anything about it. He recognises that our traditional system caters well for the top achievers, who go on to be successful as leaders in our communities etc., but that it is hopelessly inadequate in dealing with a vast number of children who are then 'trapped' in the cycle of poverty and underachievement. 

Canada's work with the Harlem Children's Zone is inspirational reading – I am particularly attracted to his vision of an education pipeline, from cradle to grave, which is outlined in the HZC's Path to Sustainability strategy. 

Canada's TED talk doesn't provide answers, or explore solutions – they are evident through exploring the work he has done with the HCZ for more than two decades. This talk is of a passionate educator, speaking from the heart, provoking, convincing, persuading, appealing – that enough is enough! It's time for real change. There are some real gems in here, including the story of how banks changed their business model, and of the importance of data, but how useless it is if it isn't available when we need it to inform educational decisions. 

While the context Canada speaks from and about is a long way from New Zealand, his underpinning concern resonates with me. Enough is enough. Time for a transformation agenda. 

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