A Message from the Future
This is an excerpt from the first chapter of More Now: A Message From The Future for The Educators of Today by Dr. Mark Wagner, our founder and CEO. This anecdote illustrates the spirit of the book – and why we do the work we do at EdTechTeam. The book comes out June 26 and will be available for pre-order soon.
If you don’t already, you should know that I’m a fan of the Irish rock band U2. I often find that the themes of their songs and performances resonate with me as an educator, and I draw a lot of inspiration from their lyrics when preparing professional development experiences. Often, I’ll begin a presentation or workshop with an anecdote about the band, and it may be best to begin this book that way too. If nothing else, perhaps it will help me connect with you on a more human level to start – even through the pages of a book.
In any case, during the first two legs of U2’s Vertigo Tour in 2005, the band played their new song “Miracle Drug” at every concert. The inspiration behind this anthemic rock song’s lyrics really hit home with me as both a parent and an educator, and have stuck with me to this day.
As the story goes, a boy named Christopher Nolan showed up at Mount Temple Comprehensive School, in Dublin Ireland at the same time as Bono and the other band members. Complications during birth had deprived Nolan’s brain of oxygen and resulted in his being born with cerebral palsy. He had no use of his voluntary muscles, and doctors had no reason to believe Nolan had any significant brain activity.
His parents, however, refused to give up on him. They believed he could understand what was going on, and they included him in their lives. They took him places, read to him, and spoke to him constantly.
When Nolan was ten years old, scientists developed what his parents thought of as a miracle drug, thus the title of the song. The drug relaxed his body enough to give him limited use of his neck. Now, moving your neck while still being completely confined by your body may not sound like much of a miracle, but for Christopher Nolan, it changed everything. Wearing a pointer on his head, he was able to type—able to communicate with the world for the first time in his life. The words came tumbling out, and by the age of fifteen, Nolan’s first book, Dam-Burst of Dreams, was published. He continued writing and became a well-known novelist in Ireland. Nolan’s story inspired the lyrics of “Miracle Drug” and shines a light on the unlimited potential that exists in the relationship between science and humanity:
Of science and the human heart
There is no limit.
The song speaks to me because I see this truth played out every day in the work I am privileged to be part of with EdTechTeam as we help educators around the world bring technology into classrooms. When we marry the power of technology with the heart of a teacher, there is no limit to what our students can create or achieve. And like Nolan’s parents, we can never give up on them.
At a U2 concert in Toronto (one I saw recorded rather than live, sadly), The Edge’s opening riffs to “Miracle Drug” made Bono pause. Looking to the audience, Bono explained the notes were actually the sound The Edge’s spaceship made when he came to Earth. (Edge is a bit of a geek, and the band likes to joke that he’s from another planet.) Then Bono said, “Myself [sic], Adam, and Larry were at school on the Northside of Dublin, and we saw this spaceship and it was playing this sound, even back then, and the spaceship landed, and The Edge got out.
“And we said, ‘Where are you from?’
“And The Edge said, ‘I’m from the future.’
“And Larry said, ‘What’s it like?’
“And Edge said, ‘It’s better!’”
Those words, like the song itself, spoke to me. The dream of creating a better future for education—starting now—is the driving theme of this book. And because you’re reading it, my guess is that you share that dream and belief that there is a better future for our kids and that bringing technologies and new pedagogies into the classroom is going to create a better future for all of us.
As we dive into each of the six areas of the honeycomb and learn together what our peers and leaders are doing, I want to remind you of this thought: You are an architect of the possible. The opportunities you create for your learners (be they teachers or students) will help them shape a better future for themselves—and for the world. And as we work together to bring the best technology and best pedagogy into classrooms, we are creating learning opportunities that prepare today’s students for tomorrow’s world.
Another excerpt from the book, More Now: A Message From The Future for The Educators of Today by Dr. Mark Wagner available next week.