From a movie to a movement: what happened to Caine’s Arcade

The Imagination Foundation is nurturing children’s natural creativity and entrepreneurialism through Global Challenges to raise a new generation of innovators. Its new vision for education is to provide children with the skill set to be active Changemakers.

1. How is education keeping up with the 21st century?

If we think of “education” as “schooling”, then education is having a lot of trouble keeping up with the pace and expectations of the 21st century. But if we understand that education is happening everywhere, all the time (and that school is just one part of a vast learning ecosystem) then the valuable question isn’t how it’s keeping up, but how do we better leverage all this wealth of informal learning? And the question for schools is, how can they better get out of the way?

2. Why does it have catching up to do?

The skill set kids are expected to learn in school and the skill set they need to function well in life and work are totally out of sync. School is still very much about fact acquisition, and students are treated as consumers. But my seven year old daughter can get all the facts she needs in a matter of seconds from Siri.

School is becoming increasingly irrelevant, at least with regard to its intended purpose. It’s impossible to catch up to Siri. School needs to be something very different. My vision for school is that it’s a safe place for children to experiment with ideas, try things out, make stuff. Think of dad’s garage – a place to tinker. And I imagine teachers as designers of learning experiences.  

3. What are the skills a child needs to master to become an active changemaker?

We like to talk about creative self-efficacy, which is a set of skills and attitudes that enable children to find problems and build solutions using whatever resources are at their disposal. You see creative self-efficacy in action when kids build stuff. Whether their tools are 3-D printers, circuits and digital code, or whether they are cardboard and junk they pulled from the trash. Just build! The good news is that children naturally possess these skills and attitudes, and the role of parents, educators and other adults is more to spark creativity than teach it.

4. What is your vision for the future of your work and of education?

We all want the best for kids, right? Whether or not we have our own kids, we all want the best. If even for selfish reasons, we want to raise an awesome next generation, because in the not too distant future, our lives and world will be in their hands. And I think we rely too heavily on schools to raise that generation, especially considering it only takes up something like 9 per cent of a child’s total time.

The potential of that other 91 per cent is what I want to help unlock. Part of my goal is to demystify education and learning, to show it isn’t that complicated to tap into child genius. And though we respect the teaching profession, there’s a significant role that everyone can play, anytime they cross paths with children, even if it’s as simple as giving them space to be creative, or a high five for that crazy invention.

- This is an interview with Mike McGalliard,  Founding Executive Director of the Imagination Foundation. The Imagination Foundation is a Champion of the Re-imagine Learning Challenge launched by Ashoka and the LEGO Foundation.

Ashoka and the LEGO Foundation believe in the need to re-imagine learning and in the importance of play as the best way for children to develop critical skills and engage them as creative changemakers.

We are selecting and supporting the first global network of social innovators to re-imagine learning for the 21st century. For more information, check out our website, follow us on Twitter with #play2learn and on Facebook. If you or someone you know is re-imagining learning for the 21st century, nominate them here.

Interview with Mike McGalliard,  Founding Executive Director of the Imagination Foundation

-This is a guest blog and may not represent the views of Please see for more details.


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