“Keep away from people who try to belittle your ambitions. Small people always do that, but the really great make you feel that you, too, can become great.”
- Mark Twain
Education is the great equalizer, it gives people the opportunity to communicate their experiences, understanding and predictions in a succinct manner. It builds confidence, fosters collaboration and helps communities develop a collectively tolerant and inclusive society.
Education is not confined to sitting in a classroom, listening to lectures, taking tests and getting a grade that represents subject matter expertise. It is also not limited to a school setting. You do not have to be a scientist, lawyer, doctor, accountant or engineer to be educated.
Put simply, education is the pursuit of knowledge. Learning is a lifelong process and happens in all settings, whether a person is individually researching via the internet or socially interacting within a wider group of people. The great benefit of learning is the compounding effect of knowledge. The inherent contradiction is the realization that there will always be more questions than answers.
“The more I learn, the more I realize I don’t know.”
– Albert Einstein
In 2019, Brian Tang and I decided that we would run a learning experiment in the Cayman Islands. Initially, we sought to determine if the disproportionate representation of men to women in the technology industry was caused by a lack of interest, lack of access to opportunities or the effect of a male dominated narrative in the technology sector spanning decades. What we found was a mix of external factors with no correlation to the interest, capability or ambition of women to solve technology problems.
This initial test has led to more research and experimentation. In 2019 we established a non-profit organization called Code(Cayman) that is dedicated to providing free learning opportunities in a non-intimidating, state of the art technology lab accessible by anyone who is interested in learning. In response to the continued success of Code(Cayman), several multinational companies have graciously donated hundreds of thousands of dollars to help expand our efforts.
Through trial and error, we determined that running short sprint cohort programs allows participants to quickly establish a baseline understanding of a topic; participants can then decide whether they want to continue exploring an idea. We believe that knowing that a topic is not personally interesting is just as important as knowing that it is. For participants who wish to continue learning about technology, we have developed a sponsorship program using Massive Online Open Courses which provide access to world class instructors spanning the globe.
In the 2 years we have been running Code(Cayman), we have found that learning in a social environment, supported by virtual content and approachable and knowledgeable instructors helps keep people engaged and focused on completing the entire program. People, whether young or old, male or female, love to learn so long as the topic is of interest to them, the environment is not intimidating, and the content is engaging.
We hope to continue expanding the programming offered by Code(Cayman) in order to ensure that learning opportunities relevant to the increasingly important field of technology are available to everyone in the Cayman Islands.