Evo Hannan is the MYP Design Teacher and Spark Tank Coordinator at Dwight School in Dubai. He is dedicated to promoting design and abstract thinking, innovation and the UN SDGs in education and beyond. His passion for design and innovation is about enabling students to experience the benefits of collaborating with global enterprises. Evo is always innovating and is the creator of The Agency #Agents4Agency.
My parents are very humble people and grew up in a very small village in Bangladesh. My father is an abstract, forward-thinking person. The first time he moved to the UK he was 16 and didn’t know the language or knew anyone or if he would ever see his family again. He went back, married, started a family, and then moved to the UK in the 70s with me, my four brothers and my sister. We are all very entrepreneurial, and to the core, we are all innovative. We’re not all creators but we think at a slightly different level than others around us. We’re all over the world. I’m in Dubai. One of my brothers taught in Paris, India, and Houston, TX. My younger brother currently lives in New Zealand. My other brother lives in Ibiza. My sister lives in the UK, travels for work, and has 2 daughters.
My father is definitely an innovator who made strategic moves financially. He has rebuilt his village and my mother’s village from mudhouses to concrete buildings. Eventually, my first global goal that aligns with SDG #4 Quality Education is to open a school in Bangladesh named after my father.
Ted Talk Breaking the Box to Discover Your Creative Currency
What it was like for you growing up
We grew up in a predominantly white British community called the Wirrall. It was challenging when we went to school as the only nonwhite kids. My brothers and sister as well. It’s kind of really made us the people we are today. I wasn’t ever the one who was favored and was always chosen last for things. I never put my hand up in classes in case someone didn’t like it and say something after class. It really knocks down your confidence and identity. You almost become comfortable not being noticed.
It’s tricky to do anything differently because it could be a good thing or a bad thing. I avoided ever getting into fights or any physical bullying because I backed out every single time. To be honest at the time, and even now, I look back and think that was a bad decision. Psychologically, bullying and verbal abuse were like a daily thing. You almost have to put up with it.
Advice to others about struggling
Going through what we went through is not always a negative thing. If this is happening to you now or in school, always think ahead. Consider that the moment you are in NOW is not the moment you are going to be in forever. So if you’re struggling now, that doesn’t necessarily mean you are going to struggle in the future.
Be mindful of your situation.
If you’re 13 or 14 and you are struggling, don’t think that you have to do things now that could impact you later. The last thing you want to do is retaliate and not be able to handle yourself. That could really lead to devastating effects. When you get a job when you are 21 or older, you are a different person. I’m not advocating “struggle,” but what I’m saying is to be aware of who you are in that situation. My family took their struggle and used it to become someone positive.
“Struggle brings out a different type of thinking.”
Your journey to become an educator
As I grew up and went to a university in Manchester, the communities were much wider and more diverse with Chinese, African, and others. I could be a bit louder and step out of my shell. I graduated in design, innovation, and tinkering in 2000. There were very few jobs in design in Liverpool and Manchester.
An opportunity came up for me to train as a Design and Technology teacher. I went to my old secondary school and spoke to the head of Design and Technology who was a great mentor of mine and was the one who suggested that I study design. He told me to “Go for it. You’ve always thought differently.” So at 21 years old, I graduated in Product Design and started a post-graduate certificate of education of PGCE. After receiving my certificate, I started teaching on the Wirral.
My wife. Anne-Marie works in leisure and tourism. We have two children Zakaria and Zara. They are, honestly, the best kids in the world. Zak who is 6 years old is going to be a bit of a game-changer and learned how to do the Rubik’s Cube and is such an environmentalist. He noticed that people were throwing litter into the sea so he picked up some litter so it wouldn’t kill the animals. Zara who is 4 is the smallest kid in the school with a huge personality. We are very fortunate to have children and learn from them.
Your journey as an educator
My first school in the UK was Upton Hall School is an outstanding school with high standards. Working there was like surfing a big wave with expert surfers (the other teachers) where I was just trying to stay on the surfboard. Everything was so fast. My background is Muslim but I’m not very religious and this was a traditional Catholic all-girl school. I was only 22 and never thought I’d get the job. Some of the students in my class and advisory were turning 18. Some had friends that were friends of mine. I developed a sense of humor around education straight away. I was there for six years and then I wanted to get into leadership, so I decided to make a big move. I had been to Dubai before so why not give it a go. Below is an image of students from the GEMS International School, Al Khail, as winners of the Innovation Clash 2017.
I was trained in Design and Technology that is part of the curriculum in the UK. I got a teaching position at an International School in Dubai with a British curriculum so I transitioned into the same job. I created the same type of projects but was able to challenge myself a bit more. Innovation came after there were a few shifts in the priorities for the arts in the UK. I realized that being a Design and Technology teacher wasn’t going to be enough. So I learned about what innovation means since, in the corporate world design, technology and innovation go hand-in-hand. Design and Technology is actually designed thinking but we never called it that. All of a sudden around 2010-2011, there was a relevance to what I was passionate about, and I felt I could leave a mark because people cared about it.
Dwight School Dubai – The Dwight Difference
I’m in my third school in Dubai, the Dwight School Dubai where I currently facilitate the Innovation and Entrepreneurship Program which is called Spark Tank. I teach in a gigantic space with a double floor that is at the center of the school with a staircase that runs right down the middle of it. There are five Dwight Schools. Dwight School New York was the first found in 1873. In 1973, they opened one in London. Then Seoul and Shanghai in 2012 and 2013. Then they opened Dubai in 2018. The Spark Tank program was introduced to promote innovation and entrepreneurship in New York four years ago based on the TV show Shark Tank. Students have passion projects and use mentors to develop their projects further.
What is the Agency?
Student agency is fast become a hot topic in education, allowing students to learn by letting them create their own journey. The Agency was created to provide tools for educators so they can support this idea for every child.
I invite teachers to join [THE AGENCY] and learn and share about Gen Z and student agency. Allow students to succeed in their own way. Go to my website to register:
[This is Barbara – I’m one of the Lead Agents for #Agents4Agency. Call me Agent WHY. Hope you join Evo, me and all the other Lead Agents to support students so they develop agency.]
Evo Hannan is one of the Middle East’s leading innovators in education. Innately driven by his desire to create positive change and a passion for technology, Evo began teaching Design and Technology at a top UK grammar school before moving to Dubai: a city renowned for its pioneering innovation, design, and architecture. His passion for design and innovation developed further after partnering with some of the region’s leading multinational companies, enabling students to experience the benefits of collaborating with global enterprises.
Evo is currently the Spark Tank Coordinator at Dwight School Dubai. He continues to develop new ideas and leads a collective of innovative educators called ‘Innovation X’. He is also the founder of ‘Teacher Society Dubai’, an education community that promotes teacher well-being, and the creator of the #INN4SDGs initiative. Evo is also the Lead Agent for the #Agents4Agency empowering educators to be Agents for Student Agency.
- Website: https://www.evohannan.com/
- Twitter: @Evo_Hannan
- LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/evohannan/
Join Evo at the OGC Global Summit July 2020 in Australia
Evo Hannan will be one of the Key Speakers
For all of the Conversations on Learning podcasts with Barbara Bray, click on the podcast tab at the top, the logo below, or go to https://barbarabray.net/podcasts/