Putting Creativity At The Forefront Of Education [PSFK CONFERENCE SF]

Putting Creativity At The Forefront Of Education [PSFK CONFERENCE SF]

PSFK talks to 826 National boss about its unique educational model rooted in strong writing skills with a culture of imagination.

Timothy Ryan, PSFK Labs
  • 28 october 2012

PSFK is excited to have Gerald Richards, the Chief Executive Officer of the 826 National, as a speaker at PSFK CONFERENCE SAN FRANCISCO826 National is a nonprofit organization and chain of tutoring centers dedicated to helping students, ages 6–18, with expository and creative writing. On November 1st, Gerald will discuss putting the creativity back into education and learning through engaging educational programs.

You last spoke at PSFK CONFERENCE SAN FRANCISCO about the unconventional ways in which 826 National is bringing education to students. Since your last talk, can you tell us about any new projects?

Well, since we last spoke, we have reopened our process for new chapters. We have identified three cities, where we are thinking 826 would be supportive; Philadelphia, Minneapolis‑St. Paul and Oakland, California. We are working with already established groups that will take the reins of the program.

Beyond that, a lot of it’s been continuing to get the word out about 826. We just did a program with Time Warner Cable through our STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) and writing workshops, of combining science, technology, engineering and math with creative writing. We piloted that over the summer at two of our chapters in LA and San Francisco.

Maybe you could talk more about the STEM program in particular?

We talk about writing, but what we’re are really about is advocating the importance of writing, and the importance of kids being able to write well.

We were at the Clinton Global Initiative America last year, and started talking to the people at Time Warner Cable about a way that we could combine writing with science. We have creative writing, and a lot of our chapters are science themed, and kids naturally gravitate towards writing about science fiction, fantasy, and the like. The question became, how could we combine the two? How could we combine actual, applied, hands‑on science, with creative writing?


What was the solution?

We began by combing through our book Don’t Forget to Write to find any science themed writing lessons. We then worked with the Coalition for Science After School, and came up with writing workshops that combined hands‑on science. For example, some kids learned to make ice cream, and in Los Angeles kids actually talked to one of the designers of the Mars Rover.

In a way, is it a rethinking of traditional educational programs?

School, unfortunately, right now, is really about tests and it’s mostly results driven.

I look at 826 as an incubator of creativity and the unbridled passion of people creating and building things, some of which you don’t really see in schools.

You get to an 826 and we are results driven. But our ‘results driven’ is about the journey of getting there and how much fun you are having along the way in creating things. There is no test at the end of anything we do.


Can you describe the importance of a hands-on approach to education?

The one‑on‑one attention and the hands‑on approach really gives students and volunteers an opportunity to take ownership over what they’ve created. Our model is rooted in project‑based learning, which really gives the kids a framework to work within. You have a start, you have a middle and then an end. When the process is over, you are left with something tangible in your hands. Afterwards, when the kids have created a book for instance, they can walk away with the finished product that they can keep forever.

What do you consider the larger goal of 826National?

I think that the larger picture is getting the young people that we work with to become engaged citizens. What real-world skills do they have and how do they interact with adults? Do they have the self‑esteem to go after a job or go into whatever field they choose, and are they prepared to present themselves in a way that’s going to be in their best interest? I look at it as the democratic process of life. You are engaged and want to be part of the world.

Thanks Gerald!

826 National / @gerald826CEO

Please join us on November 1st to hear Gerald discuss putting the creativity back in education through engaging educational programs at PSFK CONFERENCE SAN FRANCISCO.


PSFK's Workplace Vision: How The Nurturing Of Seeds Will Come To Define The Onboarding Process

Brand Development
Media & Publishing Yesterday

CNN Launched An Entire Drone Division Of Their News Network

CNN AIR incorporates aerial footage into the corporation's ongoing news coverage

Advertising Yesterday

Uber’s Breathalyzer Cards Let You Know If You Are Sober Enough To Drive

A new campaign from the ride-sharing service raises awareness about the importance of a safe trip home


Get PSFK's Latest Report: Future of Work

See All
Design Yesterday

Milk Proteins Could Be The Packaging Material Of The Future

A newly discovered casein-based alternative is biodegradable, sustainable and even edible

Technology Yesterday

Intel’s New System Will Help Technology See And Understand The World

Joule is a tiny board for developers designed to bring powerful computer vision to cheap and easy-to-make prototypes


Katrina Lake

Retail, Customer Service, Fashion

Design Yesterday

This LA Hotel Is Designed Specifically For Cocktail Drinkers

The Walker Inn is a new Los Angeles "Bed and Beverage" experience that offers guests an intimate setting for their night cap

Education Yesterday

Bringing Virtual Reality And Telepresence Robotics To E-Learning

This Learning Management System is embracing new technologies to reallocate teaching resources to where they should be going

Advertising Yesterday

Interactive Art Exhibition For Dogs Provides Endless Fun

Installations created by artist Dominic Wilcox are based on activities loved by canines, such as fetching tennis balls and splashing in water


Future Of Work
Cultivating The Next Generation Of Leaders

PSFK Op-Ed Yesterday

Retail Expert: What Sustainability Means To The Millennial Generation

Jo Godden, Founder of RubyMoon, discusses how brands can limit their environmental impact worldwide

PSFK Labs august 24, 2016

PSFK’s Workplace Vision: The Annual Review Becomes An Everyday, Collaborative Activity

Our Future of Work vision is a web-based platform through which teams can collaborate on and monitor performance reviews across all channels, ensuring a happier workplace

Beauty Yesterday

Design Your Own Custom Watch Faces

Customize your wrist device with Garmin's new app that lets you display personalized images or patterns

Syndicated Yesterday

How The Olympics Taught Us Lessons In Cloud Analytics

Dan Vesset, group VP for analytics and information management at IDC, tells how cloud-based business analytics support decision-making

Arts & Culture Yesterday

Artist Shuts Down Sexist Comments By Turning Them Into Images

Rora Blue explores social stigma in a photo series titled 'Handle With Care'

Arts & Culture Yesterday

Japanese Face Wash Creates A Perfect Rose Every Time

Kanebo's latest addition to the Evita line includes an application that dispenses cleanser in the shape of a flower

Mobile Yesterday

Twitter Bot Will Warn You If You Are A Troll

An online tool developed out of Intel's Hack Harassment movement helps filter out or notify cyber bullies


Innovation Debrief: Boston
Business Concepts Born In 'The Hub'

Retail Yesterday

Passengers Can Now Earn Airline Miles For Sharing Their Location Data

The Frequent Flyer app measures background data and gives travelers points that can be exchanged for tickets with participating airlines

Advertising Yesterday

The NBA Is Releasing Two Original Shows To Stream On Twitter

The sports league announced a deal that demonstrates an interesting expansion of its content strategy

Automotive Yesterday

Cadillac Concept Shows A Future Design Direction

The flagship sedan reveals the brand is continuing to hone and refine its luxury aesthetic

No search results found.