The LearnLife Conference (Day 57 & 58)

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Day 57 – Tuesday – Day 1 of LearnLife Thought Leadership Conference

Today was the first day of the LearnLife Thought Leadership conference. It is fortuitous that I learned about it just over a week ago from a fellow EO member, Christopher Pommerening, who is the co-founder of LearnLife.  Their mission is to work with governments all over the world to build learning hubs for local communities. In Barcelona, it is one of the first prototypes of a Learning Hub that currently has a total of 100 learners in it. 60 are between 10 and 20 years of age and the rest our adults. 

I love their BIG goals!

The event was of course hosted at the Learning Hub. The space was brilliant. It used to be a law firm that housed 120 lawyers. Go Figure. It had a makers room, music labs,  cool seats throughout. It also had machines I would never have assumed to be there, including a CNC, an automated control of machining tools. With it the young learners designed and built a stool that needs zero screws or nails to put it together.  Two 16 year old students are using the 3D printers in a new way that has interested some of the largest companies in that field to visit the Learning Hub and learn from them. 

Getting a tour of LearnLife
A creative way to use an exit.
The stool on top of the CNC machine
The bathroom sink filters the water and uses it for the toilet bowl.

As the conference started there were 50 people in the room arranged in a circle. It started with us going around the circle introducing ourselves, including where we were from, the organization we were part of and one surprising thing that you have done.  We represented 13 different countries of which only 3 people were from the US. When it came to my turn, I was debating about saying I just published a book (it felt boring and self promotional) or that when I was 23, I drove a car for a full day in President Bill Clinton’s motorcade. I chose that one and it got a lot of laughs when I said, “I have some stories to tell about it.” And I do! 

Getting started by sharing at the the LearnLife conference.

Later in the day, I met with one of the early team members of Kahoot. It is a quiz based learning tool that has taken off like hot cakes with one hundred million users worldwide. Embarrassingly enough, I never heard about it. That night, out of nowhere, Josh, shows me a Kahoot quiz he created and wanted me to compete against him. To me coincidences in life like that are so interesting. Does anything like this every happen to you? 

I left day 1 energized and grateful to have found such an exciting program right at my new doorstep. When I left NYC to come to Barcelona, one of my concerns was not being able to pursue my mission to help disrupt the education system.   Once again, the world proved where you focus your mind, things will happen to bring exactly what you are thinking directly to you. And here I am living in Barcelona, at a conference in a Learning Hub I “dreamt” about building in NYC! 

Day 58 – Day 2 of Conference – “We are The Last of the Pre-Internet Generation”

Day 2 of the LearnLife Thought Leadership conference started off with an inspiring talk by Marc Prensky, founder of

Everyone at the conference (except one) was born prior to 1994. He said when our generation dies off, every single person alive will be born post Internet. This is important because a lot of the resistance in change in education comes from this group. While there are many leading the charge, the real way to effect change in our education system will come from those born after 1994. 

He stated the old model of education is to stuff content into students brains while the new model should be focused on empowering students to improve the world. 

The book,  The Case Against Education, states in the current educational model only 20% of what we learn is relevant and 80% of what we do is mainly signals to employers. The signals are broken into the following 3 areas about the students. 

1. They can Learning Complex Things
2. They are Persistent
3. They are Doing what Other People want them to do

Instead, Mark said we need to focus on the kids as unique capable individuals. Kids want and need the power to affect their world.  

The philosopher Thomas Carlyle, said, “nothing builds self esteem like accomplishment.” Mark add, “real world accomplishment is what students need in the new education model.” 

Real world examples of projects doing this can be found at and which is an amazing organization empowering children all over the world. 

That was just one presentation in the morning. However, it was so impactful for me I wanted to share it. I should mention one other little thing. Due to the protests in Barcelona, he could not fly in and it he was doing the presentation at 3am from Canada and we are all staring at a TV.

The day ended with all of us coming together working on ways and opportunities for the group inside and ouside this room to have a larger impact on the education system throughout the world. Lot’s of good ideas. 

Next step Action!