Episode #87: Becoming Agents of Student Agency with Evo Hannan

By Barbara Bray

Join Barbara Bray in conversations with awesome educators, leaders, and influencers as they talk about their passion and purpose for planting seeds for change. Each podcast has a link to a related blog post with more information and resources.

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. 
Your background 
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 the University of 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 teacher. I went to my old secondary school and spoke to the head of…