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David Puttnam

Man with a mission

Man with a mission

03 December, 2014

Lord Puttnam, who is now the UK Prime Minister’s Trade Envoy to Viet Nam, Laos, Cambodia and Burma, the Republic of Ireland’s Digital Champion, and chair of Ireland-based Atticus Education, which delivers interactive seminars on film and other subjects to educational institutions around the world, quit school at 16. (“I was bored to tears,” he says. “It was night school that saved me.”) Marilyn Achiron, editor at the Directorate of Education and Skills, met with Lord Puttnam in early November when he was in Paris to give a keynote address to theCERI Conference on Innovation, Governance and Reform in Education.

Marilyn Achiron: In your keynote speech, you talk about creativity in using technologies in education. What do you mean by that? 

David Puttnam: Creativity, for me, is finding metaphors, finding ways of explaining things in an interesting manner. Innovation in teaching is more than just technique. It’s a way of getting teachers to understand that teaching is a wildly interesting, imaginative job; and the results you can get – as we used to call it, the “lightbulb moment” – when you find the right switch for that lightbulb, are absolutely remarkable. But unfortunately, because of curricula pressures, personal pressures, because of class size, etc., teachers find it increasingly difficult to individualise kids in that sense: one kid’s lightbulb is not going to be the same as that of another kid.