Born in Liverpool, England, Peter Gamwell is the co-author, with Jane Daly, of The Wonder Wall: Leading Creative Schools and Organizations in an Age of Complexity, Corwin Press (2017), foreword by Sir Ken Robinson, and Thinker, Learner, Dreamer, Doer: Innovative Pedagogies for Cultivating Every Student’s Potential,, Corwin Press (2022), foreword by Yong Zhao. In addition to these books, Peter has written numerous chapters for edited books, journal articles, and blogs. Peter believes that if we can identify and foster the correct balance of conditions through our learning environments, then we will maximize the opportunity to cultivate the seeds of brilliance and the creative potential that lie in everyone – adults and children alike.
An insightful, entertaining and knowledgable speaker and consultant, Peter brings decades of academic research, as well as practical experience and knowledge from all levels of the education system. Through his unique and inspiring keynotes, workshops, books, YouTube channel and website, he explores learning, leadership, and innovation, and their impact on individual and organizational well-being and culture. Peter has worked across Canada and throughout the world, showing students, educators, administrators, schools, school districts, companies, and policy makers how to foster vibrancy and achieve transformational and innovative cutures of learning.
Understanding a powerful truth Peter’s philosophy is simple: the health and prosperity of any organization is directly
proportional to the manner in which it values its people; affords them autonomy to make decisions; and gives them creative rein. This vision and practice of leadership and learning is important for all ages and any organization; the more success we have inspiring learning in schools, businesses, and communities, then the more success we will have unleashing potential in our students.
The power of story
Through the course of his work and research, Peter has captured the voices of hundreds of
students and adults alike – video clips that provide unique and insightful glimpses into the lived
world of our classrooms, schools, and organizations. These clips also provide critical advice as to
how we might imagine our learning cultures in a way that reawakens the brilliance that lies in all
of us, with a central focus on individual, group, and organizational wellbeing. This is a link to his
Youtube channel, Cultivating Innovation.
A message that asks the right questions
Drawing on his research and wealth of practical experience, Peter challenges his audiences to
consider fundamental questions that foster positive growth, vibrancy and innovative thinking in
their own organizations. His background, strongly rooted in education, extends to organizational
learning and advising multiple levels of government, private industry, and not-for-profit. His
message resonates across all sectors and disciplines, making him a memorable and influential
speaker to audiences from all walks and backgrounds, nationally and internationally.
The experienced speaker you’re looking for
Peter has spent a rewarding career inspiring people with this leadership philosophy. From 2004 –
2016, he led a transformational culture change at the Ottawa-Carleton District School Board, a
7,000-employee, 80,000-student organization, a movement that fostered ongoing and innovative
change across the district. This report, Unleashing Potential, Harnessing Possibilities: An
Odyssey of Creativity, Innovation and Critical Thinking, provides a glimpse into that journey.
The culture changing movement gained international recognition, and Peter was invited to
numerous conferences around the world to help others on their journeys of transformation.
Working closely with such renowned creativity and learning experts as the late Sir Ken
Robinson, Sir John Jones, Margaret Wheatley, to name but a few, Peter has become recognized
internationally as a catalyst for creative change initiatives that inspire and advance organizational
cultures. He has won many awards, most notably the Distinguished Leadership Award by the Ontario
Public Supervisory Officers’ Association (2015) and the Global Distinguished Leadership
Award by the Alberta Teachers’ Association, (2016).
Widely recognized for his inspirational and transformational leadership, Peter was appointed to
the Board of Directors for the U.S. National Creativity Network in 2011, and in 2020 co-founded
the Canadian Network for Imagnation and Creativity, (CNIC). CNIC hosts monthly Ideajams,
focussed on fostering debate on a diverse range of topics pertaining to imagination, creativity
and innovation. Peter has led several of these events.
In 2015, Peter presented the first EdTalk by the Ontario Ministry of Education, Research Branch,
entitled The Wonder Wall. That same year, he presented on the World Creativity Expert Panel at
the World Creativity Forum, Oklahoma City, a conference of over 2,000 international delegates
that was chaired by Sir Ken Robinson.
Peter Gamwell delivers dynamic and relevant keynote presentations on a variety of topics pertaining to leadership, creativity and learning. Whether your organization is involved with education, business, government or not-for-profit, he can work with you to customize a half-day or full-day workshop tailored to your specific needs and organizational goals.
Audiences are delighted and energized by Peter’s unique style. He does not pretend to have all the answers. Instead, he embraces the uncertainty we all feel regarding the complexities of our times, and helps lead us to make sense of our world in positive, yet realistic, ways. He draws on the depth of his research and the range of his experiences to engage audiences into informed dialogue about possible pathways forward—and he uses storytelling and humor to wisely illustrate his messages.
Drawing on his research and his wealth of practical experience, Peter will challenge you to consider fundamental questions to foster positive growth, vibrancy and creativity in your organizations:
-What do healthy organizations look like?
-What have you already done that has started to create this atmosphereWhat does a creative person look and act like? --Why do we consider some people creative and not others?
-What are the conditions needed to draw out people’s unique creative capacitiesWhat practical and implementable strategies can we put in place today, next week and in the coming year to foster healthier organizational environments
By working together to find the answers to these questions and others like them, your organization will find the passion for lifelong and creative learning.
The Wonder Wall – Fostering Creative Organizations: Making the Extraordinary Happen in an Age of “Inbetweenity”
With so many experts saying that imagination and innovation are crucial to our future, you might think about emulating creative companies like Zappos, Google and IDEO. But do you notice what those organizations all have in common? They established their creative cultures as young start-ups. What happens if, like most of us, your organization has been around for decades, steeped in traditional processes and rigid roles that put a chokehold on creativity and beat it senseless every day?
In this lively and engaging presentation built around questions, ideas and stories, you’ll learn easily implemented and practical ways to catalyze and spark dialogue, learning and productive actions specific to your situation. In our complex, bureaucratic age, find out how you can transform your organization to embrace the new creative age.
How do you set the stage to foster imaginative, creative and innovative organizational cultures? What barriers can you expect to encounter?What strategies can you use to move forward successfully? Peter challenges some common assumptions pertaining to leadership and learning, and provides suggestions and practical ideas to foster truly innovative and vibrant organizational cultures.What are the conditions for optimal learning and creativity to flourish? Peter will show you how to think through this crucial question—and suggests ways to move forward when the inevitable pushback occurs to organizational change. Learn about organizations that have successfully fostered creative learning cultures and find out we can learn from them.
Preparing Our Children for an Unknown Future – Future Learning Curiosity
The yearning to explore and learn new things is an integral part of our human DNA. Yet at a time when learning and educational opportunities have never been more abundant, the idea of children disliking school is so common, it’s become downright iconic in our society. Likewise, after graduation, our TGIF mentality extends to the workforce. Why?
Drawing on extensive research, experiences and intriguing stories, Peter Gamwell discusses how we need to update and energize our ingrained beliefs of human intelligence, human motivation and human learning. During this thought-provoking presentation, you’ll learn how our schools—as well as other organizations—are structured on outmoded theories and practices that not only literally set students up to fail but rob them and our society of their true talents.
Peter discusses how we can structure new systems informed and built on emerging and fresh understandings of human intelligence, motivation and learning. In schools, businesses, governments and organizations, it is critical that we recognize, value and tap into the capacities of everyone, rather than valuing certain forms of intelligence over others.
Exposes and challenges underlying assumptions that maintain a status quo delivery of education Offers alternative approaches based on emerging and fresh understandings of human intelligence, motivation and learningDescribes how exciting new discoveries in neuroscience and learning theory can help guide us to reshape learning environments in exciting and dynamic waysExplores the connection between the experience of optimal learning, creativity and well-beingThis presentation is also easily adapted to learning and optimizing employees’ capacities in the workplace.
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