Adrian Clarke is a Next Gen Philanthropist and iOi Founding Circle member. Here, as part of our series on the next generation of innovators, he discusses what he sees as the challenges they face, along with how education and philanthropy could equip them to take on this changing world.

The world is changing at an ever-increasing pace. This is not hyperbole but a lived experience for the next generation. We are facing greater levels of change than any previous one, and, what’s more, this will also be true for every generation to come. This has massive ramifications for individuals and for society. It is why I am proud to support the Institute of Imagination. They are working to ensure that everyone can face an uncertain future with confidence, armed with the skills they need to thrive.

Over the past few weeks the Institute of Imagination (iOi)  have been celebrating next gen’ers here on Imagination Matters. From the young makers helping to create iOi’s biggest ever public event – the Mega Maker Lab – to some of the most influential young inventors of the past, they have been championing the ingenuity, creativity and determination of young people.

we are facing greater levels of change than any previous generation, and this will also be true for every generation to come

One of the areas in which the next generation is making waves today is in philanthropy. We are seeking to have more meaningful engagement with the causes we support – rather than just writing a cheque – and we are also blurring the lines between charity and social enterprise. Authors and speakers Michael Moody and Sharna Goldseker explained why this matters in their recently published book, Generation Impact: How Next Gen Donors are Revolutionizing Giving. They noted that “the members of Generation X and millennials will be the most significant philanthropists in history because of the estimated $59 trillion in wealth that is currently being transferred to them from their aging baby boomer parents and grandparents.”

At iOi we have experimented with building a Next Gen Board and collaborated on proposals for a commercial product to generate funds for charitable activity. Alongside this I am also exploring ways to push boundaries in my wider philanthropic activity. I believe that our education system needs a radical overhaul in order to set children and young people on the path to success. The iOi’s informal learning approach is vital, but formal education needs to change too, and digital technology is the key to disrupting this sector.

formal education needs to change too

Since 2006, Massive Online Open Courses (or MOOCs) have been offering anyone anywhere with an internet connection the opportunity to engage with course materials in their own time and at their own pace. And yet, more than a decade on, formal education has not maximised the potential of open-access learning. The UK introduced its coding curriculum in 2014, replacing the outdated Information and Communication Technology (ICT) curriculum. However, this change needs to be managed; the impact is still dependent on helping both teachers and parents to deliver and support the content.

Even if the curriculum had been effectively implemented, it still misses the point. In February, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development’s (OECD) Director for Education and Skills, Andreas Schleicher, warned against coding education. Speaking at the World Innovation Summit for Education (WISE) in Paris, Schleicher said: “In a way coding is just one technique of our times and I think it would be a bad mistake to have that tool become ingrained…you teach it to three-year-olds and by the time they graduate they will ask you ‘remind me, what was coding?’ That tool will be outdated very soon.” Coding skills can only take you so far if you don’t also have the imagination to apply them – and the underlying logic and problem-solving skills to make the jump to the next evolution in digital.

find new ways to help children acquire the skills and knowledge they need by collaborating, making connections, pushing for excellence

I believe philanthropy is an effective tool for addressing challenges like these. Education systems, whether in the UK or elsewhere, will always struggle to keep pace with technological and societal change as they are inherently big, bureaucratic machines. Philanthropic interventions are much more able to be nimble, risk taking, innovative and challenging. My goal is to work with ed tech (educational technology) innovators, charities and educators to find new ways to help children acquire the skills and knowledge they need to succeed.

And, as a current Next Gen’er, I am doing it in the way my generation does things – by collaborating, making connections, pushing for excellence and in a way that aligns with my personal values. In doing things my generation’s way I hope to help the next generation get the head-start they will need. Because if you think the world is changing fast now, you ain’t seen nothing yet.

Learn more about inspiring the next generation at the Mega Maker Lab this August.

Posted by:Adrian Clarke

Adrian is an investor, entrepreneur and founder of both Mustard and its investment partner, Delarki. He has founded and co-founded four operating businesses in the US and UK as well as consulted for a number of venture capital firms on the East Coast and in the Valley. He is a Next Gen Philanthropist and iOi Founding Circle member.

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