Meet The HundrED Team: Annina Huhtala, Content Director
What makes good content great? Honesty, usefulness and memorable quotes, says Content Director Annina Huhtala. She joined HundrED last April to make sure that impactful and scalable education innovations get the attention they deserve.
Tell us a little about yourself
The memory is incredibly vivid. I am maybe six years old, sitting at a dining table with a cryptic book in front of me, and my brain aches. "Ui, iu, au" reads the impossible vowels in the Finnish language. "I will never learn this", I cry. For a wild child growing roaming the forests of Western Finland, forced to interpret the alphabet feels like being pushed to learn how to levitate. Impossible and purposeless.
And then suddenly, like magic, the pain is gone. I can read, and the spell is irreversible. I park between the shelves in the local library and devour everything my short arms can reach. I design my own magazine that mixes neighbourhood gossip with animal sightings. Fast-forward 15 years, and I am covering the Arab Spring, interviewing a North Korean defector in China and sharing the life lessons of the world's first female president in real newspapers.
I’ve always jumped for opportunities to expand my understanding of both people and things and then eagerly share what I learn. I earned my Bachelor's degree in Journalism, worked as a reporter in both print and tv, and then spent the following decade growing a company for better science communication before returning to school for a master's degree in Neuroscience and Psychology at Goldsmiths, University of London.
When I'm not reading or writing, I still enjoy roaming (and cross-country skiing) in forests.
Why do you want to work at HundrED?
I received free education in one of the world's most functional education systems by teachers who were not just focusing on injecting knowledge into our skulls but also teaching what being a creative human being meant. And for that, I consider myself incredibly lucky.
HundrED has an important mission, to help provide quality education for as many children as possible through education innovations. Our selected innovations and global community work relentlessly to bring new opportunities for many. My task is to find and amplify those stories, so don’t hesitate to contact me and share with me yours!
Why should we change our schools?
The way we run our schools today defines what kind of society we will get in the future. If we believe that we've reached the culmination, we can just stick with our old ways. Unfortunately, we are challenged by systemic problems like the global pandemic, climate change and mental health issues. Pretty much everything from the day-to-day working methods to our core values is constantly being re-calibrated. So the question is not why, but how we change our schools for the best?
In moments of turbulence, it is vital to keep on reminding ourselves of the core purpose of schools, which is to prepare children for the future. We don't know what kind of systemic challenges the future generations will face, so we should at least try to provide kids with skills that help them to navigate uncertainty. At best, schools are safe places for children to learn how to learn, cultivate play and creativity, collaborate, take responsibility and feel agency.
Why is innovation in education crucial today?
It's impossible to change school systems overnight. The beauty of innovations is that they are small enough, proven ideas that fix topical problems without forcing the whole system to change. The innovations we select for HundrED Global Collections are scalable and have demonstrated impact in multiple contexts - and that makes it easy for teachers and education providers to try them out.
Three HundrED innovations you love and why
- MyMachine - I wish this existed when I was a child! A brilliant innovation that promotes science to primary school children in a meaningful way; and also trains technical students to communicate their work. A win-win!
- Slam Out Loud- An innovation that brings professional artists to classrooms. Art helps to build your sense of self and embrace your creativity - skills needed in every area of your life later on.
- Speed School - This innovation shows that education doesn't happen in a bubble. The Speed School programme takes out-of-school students through three years of foundational literacy and numeracy in just ten months by involving local communities. Super impressive!