Factfulness, Global Ignorance & Inquiry: "Please Return Your Brain For A Free Upgrade"

Factfulness, Global Ignorance & Inquiry: "Please Return Your Brain For A Free Upgrade"


“Please return your brain for a free upgrade”. (Hans Rosling)


As international educators we seek to inspire learners to make connections, take action and become globally-competent, informed citizens. But how well informed are we ourselves? In this session we will think about what it means to be globally-informed, how our brains trick us into making assumptions and what we can do about it. Based on the work of Hans Rosling & the Gapminder foundation, we will explore data, ask questions and think about what it means to be the change in a connected world.

Session Audience:

Middle school, High school, Curriculum leaders, Information literacy / Library, Tech coaches, coordinators, integrators, etc.

Session Goals:

  • Factfulness and inquiry are not at odds with each other: powerful inquiry leads to deeper understanding of complex global issues
  • We can use data (and data visualisations) to tell stories that inspire inquiry & action
  • Our worldviews are often skewed by misconceptions but we can recognise and rectify that
  • With access to reliable database and visualisation tools we can see the world from a new, more fact-based perspective and ask better questions.
  • We can use data-informed inquiry to inspire learning across disciplines and in harmony with our programmes and school missions
  • To take effective action on a problem, we must first understand it.

Session Outcomes:

  • Evaluate their own Factfulness in the global ignorance test
  • Discuss why the world needs more factful inquirers
  • Explore Gapminder, Dollar Street, SDG-Tracker & Wolfram|Alpha as tools to create data-informed inquiries across disciplines
  • Design a learning experience or unit using the tools
  • Create a proposal for change or implementation in a factful, inquiry-driven curriculum

Presenter Bio:

Stephen has been involved in international education in IB schools since 2006 and is an experienced MYP Sciences and IBDP Biology teacher, Diploma and Middle Years Programme Coordinator. A UK-trained science teacher with a Marine Biology background and an MA in International Education, Stephen has a strong interest in effective, empowering inquiry education, putting research to practice and making the most of educational technologies.

With a philosophy of sharing and collaboration, Stephen’s popular resources and i-Biology.net site support teachers and learners in MYP and DP, whilst raising charitable donations through Biology4Good. He writes about curriculum, pedagogy, technology and international education on sjtylr.net, has presented at a range of conferences/workshops and probably tweets too much (@sjtylr). Beginning his adventures in international education in Bandung, Indonesia, he is currently HS Learning & Tech Coach at Western Academy Beijing, where he supports teachers and learners in developing inquiry.

He wishes the world were more inquisitive by nature, factful by perspective  and compassionate by habit.