John Kershaw

John Kershaw

President, C21 Canada
Former Deputy Minister, New Brunswick Department of Education

John Kershaw brings extensive experience with the workings of government. A strategic planner by training, he served for many years in the government of the Canadian province of New Brunswick, including 7 years as deputy minister of education. This gives him an understanding of how to bring good ideas to fruition in the real world. "I have a good sense of what makes government tick and how to move things," he says. "I can share with people what works and what I've found doesn't work."

Since retiring from government three years ago, John helped found C21 Canada, a non-profit organization that advocates for educational improvement. In particular, he feels that schools do not do enough to teach 21st-century skills such as creative, critical thinking, and collaborative working. "It's broader now than just working with others—it's working with others that may be halfway around the world and in a different culture," he says. That makes cultural awareness another critical skill.

C21 Canada also advocates for more engaging ways of teaching, since surveys show that a majority of Canadian students do not feel challenged by today's schools. To engage those students, lessons should couple theoretical understanding with practical applications that are relevant to the students' individual interests--a task that will require smart use of technology.

John's vision for 2030 is that schools will fully embrace the use of digital technologies in learning. "It empowers the student with the ability to access knowledge at their speed of learning. It's the number one game-changer in learning today," he says.

In his spare time, John is a triathlete who completed his first Ironman triathlon last year.