Being Inventive Through Education
My name is Bill Currie, in October 2008 - 2009 I was voted British Inventor of the year. I was over the moon at my success but knew deep down that if I sat back and let the World go by then that is exactly what would happen and all my efforts would have been wasted so I decided that now was the time to move up a notch. Where too and in what direction I had no idea! I had read in previous issues of our local newspaper, The Croydon Advertiser and free-bee weekly The Guardian, that the borough was fast becoming the byword for knife related crimes, Knife culture was an all too familiar headline blazoned across the front pages like some 1940s film noir poster.
It made me think of my own childhood back in the dim lit streets of the then blot on the landscape for south London called Battersea, in the 1960s. When I lived in a slum called Durham buildings With all the hardship families came face to face with every day, nobody walked in fear of being knifed or shot, knives were for eating if and when a meal became available, a clip round the ear from the local Bobby or the threat of telling your parents from a neighbour was sufficient to put the fear of god into many a teenager! In those far off days, not anymore now we have gangs running amok in our once safe streets of suburbia, stand by a Bus stop near a School and watch what happens with the pupils it will be an eye opener for all.
Another headline caught my attention on the bill board outside my local shop which read murder a teenage girl pupil had been knifed while waiting for a bus not far from her school; this was later reported as a gang related incident. That was it my Eureka moment I knew then what direction I was going in, someone had to get to these kids before the gangs and their reputations got to them first. I wondered if the girls family thought they were let down by society or indeed by the school she attended, enough was enough the kids needed direction, I was going to put a good thought in their heads, take away the knifes and put a pen in their hands, and encourage them to join MY GANG !
Parts of Croydon was perceived by other people in the London as a no go area and definitely not somewhere to bring up a child, so about three and a half years ago I had an idea about inventions in schools. I wrote to the Mayor of Croydon’s office and they advised me to approach the local council, they in turn passed my letter on to various heads of local schools but no one had the time or foresight to reply favourably. My letter eventually found its way to the Head teacher of Cyprus Junior School, Mr Richard Slade who apparently came very close to burying his head in the sand with the others but he too had his Eureka moment and contacted me to arrange a meeting with him and his staff. After a few hours we all decided to give it a go, every Thursday I would go to the school under the watchful eyes of his deputy Head, Mr. Damian McBeath.
WE arranged a Dragons Den type interview for the pupils and we had plenty of applicants wanting to join, what was soon to be known as the Young Inventors Club. As weeks turned into months with the blink of an eye we found the pupils had a very wide range of ideas and inventions, and were eager to see them come to fruition. The pupils and I looked forward to Thursday with a passion. I got so much out of seeing them and hearing them and their ideas grow with each week that passed, and the comments from the teachers to say that the children were advancing in other areas of their education.
We were beginning to see some light at the end of the tunnel but none of us knew just how bright that light was to become, I had regular meeting with the staff and kept them informed of any progress the children had made in the club, they choose group name from famous inventors in the past and they were proud to be in their particular group. Then one Thursday afternoon a little voice said Mr Currie, what about this idea both Damian and I sat back in our chairs and gazed at each other did we hear right? Did that tiny angelic face say what we thought she had said, it was that little idea that went on to win a gold medal at the British Invention show in 2009 along with a silver medal that the teams had thought of.
The club was so successful that a similar club has been started using my Program 21 in Barcelona Spain! and we want it to go further afield. The whole idea of having and Inventors club at a school has quite simply gone way beyond my expectations; we will be taking the Program21 too many more schools in London and the rest of the country if it goes the way I intend it to go. I am starting a Disabled of Croydon Inventors club too, so very soon we will be in dire need of an innovation centre where the young and disabled can really release the energy stored in them, and open their think tanks that are full to the brim.
With the new cross curriculum starting this coming term and the fact that 6 out of 7 dimensions are Innovation related, surely now is the time to move even further forward by adding another dimension to the curriculum INVENTION Today’s children are our future, we must help them now, the actions we take today will affect the children’s future.
Bill Currie. British Inventor of the year.
Find out more:- Program 21 Thinking outside the box
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