I recently had breakfast with an old friend at a restaurant. He told me he meets there with a group of men regularly, and they talk about education, kids, curriculum, and the world. They even had a little brass plaque on wall with their initials engraved on it. It was early, but the conversation put my mind in the right mode of thinking for the entire day. New perspectives were shared. I saw topics in a new light, and, well, I shared some of my ideas too.
Today, I was listening to a few minutes of a show titled GPS on CNN. I caught it just by chance. Just one of those moments where I was getting a snack when I shouldn’t have, and the TV was on in the kitchen. What a great show! I’m not sure I am intelligent enough to grasp everything it covered, but I enjoyed the variety and richness of discussion. The show focused on solutions and big ideas.
I was inspired by the host’s guest too, “Homeless Billionaire” Nicolas Berggruen, who has recently started a ‘think tank” where the top minds of the world will gather and well… think. He is building an institute that focuses on free speech, curiosity, and diversity. Nicholas calls this institute a “secular monestary” where scholars will live, work, host meetings, and talk about a range of topics from technology, philosophy to government, and more! He says he wants to give the world a place where people can have conversations.
These two events, my friend’s gathering at breakfast and the CNN story, are the same concept at different levels. Both groups, one big and one small, are focused on getting great minds together and having a conversation.
Are we doing this? Are we having discussions? This is more than liking pictures and status updates. These are face-to-face conversations in real time. This is setting aside a time to meet in person, spend time together, talk and then collaborate on solutions.
I was fortunate to have been invited to Berlin, Germany this summer to do just that with amazing educators from all around the world at the Apple Distinguished Educator Global Institute 2016. It was amazing and beneficial. This was thinking big on a big scale. This should happen often and so should smaller discussions too, at smaller levels.
How can we do more of this? How can you or I get a group of thinkers together to talk and collaborate?
I challenge you this week to do just that. Start something. Join something. If you accomplish it online, well, I guess that is okay, but if you can find a way to meet in person I think you will see many added benefits.
As an English teacher I am reminded of C.S. Lewis, J.R.R. Tolkien, and G. K. Chester meeting at a pub regularly for a talk. They called themselves The Inlkings. What came from these “talks” is some of my favorite literature and essays.
On my podcast I recently interviewed two authors about a trip they took home after a conference. They rode together in a car and talked. From this conversation sprang forth the idea for a book which was recently published on a very important topic.
These ‘think tanks’ or conversations are important. While they of course can “just happen” from time to time, imagine the results if we actually planned a few.