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Teach children things machines cannot learn

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I am involved in a number of activities, one of which is a not-for-profit called The Portrait Foundation.

This is a bit of a pivot, but it’s all about encouraging creativity in children, as it is the human and emotional skills that children should learn today. Children should not be taught all the things machines can learn, as those jobs are disposable. Learn about art, music, sport, creativity, relationships, philosophy, thinking. This does not mean that STEM is unimportant – it’s more important than ever too – but drilling children with dates and numbers should be avoided.

Give them dreams.

The Portrait Foundation was founded by myself and one of the world’s most in-demand portrait artists, Basia Hamilton, in 2019.

I met Basia a few years ago, as she’s in my circle of Polish friends, and we immediately hit it off. Basia paints portraits of many famous folks, like the Queen Mother and Pope John Paul II, and is a force of sweet nature.

She had this idea which is really simple: encourage children to paint portraits of their parents. The idea became a competition, and now the competition takes place across the Polish community every year and, with my help, is going global.

We are looking for sponsors, but this post is not about that. This post is about this year’s competition, which is to paint the astronomer Nicolas Copernicus. The aim is to inspire children of the world to not only paint, but to discover more about Copernicus and the historical things he achieved in science and economics that still influence our world today, 500 years later.

Now, I knew little about Nicolas Copernicus, apart from the fact that he was pre-Galileo in discovering details about our universe and the fact that the Earth circles the Sun and not the other way around. That is something I have referenced in finance for decades: Digital banks are Copernicus banks (incumbents are with the Flat Earth society)

But now that I’m involved in a competition to paint his portrait, I discovered lots of other things as he was far more than an astronomer. In fact, he created several theories of how to run economies and society, including the Quantity Theory of Money and Gresham’s Law.

The Quantity Theory of Money states that the general price level of goods and services is directly proportional to the amount of money in circulation, or money supply.

Gresham’s Law is a monetary principle stating that "bad money drives out good"

It’s called Gresham’s Law because it was a key law of the Elizabethan age in the 1600s that established the nature of economic management by Sir Thomas Gresham, the Queen’s adviser, based on the works of Nicolas Copernicus. Some of our ancestors are amazingly influential on how we live today, even though they passed centuries ago, and I was really amazed by the achievements of Copernicus that go far beyond astronomy.

The portrait competition is running across the world from May, and has patronage from Prince Edward Duke of Kent, Britain’s National Gallery, the Royal Castle of Warsaw, the Łańcut Castle Museum, and the Academies of Art in Krakow and Gdańsk.

In the words of Gabriele Finaldi, Director of the National Gallery:

“The Polish painter Jan Matejko made a memorable image of the great Polish astronomer, Nicolas Copernicus* ...

... we are fortunate at the National Gallery that it has been lent to us by the University in Kraków so that many people can see it in London.

"Paintings can record a likeness, pay homage to a person’s achievements, make that person better known. When Matejko painted his picture, he wanted to show why Copernicus was such an important figure and to celebrate his contribution to European culture and to our understanding of our place in the universe. As you make your portraits of the famous astronomer, you too, can reflect on the wonders of the cosmos and why Copernicus is still important to us.”

I do hope you will share with your children and grandchildren’s schools and, if you are interested in donating prizes or sponsoring, just let me know by email to:

Finally, another idea is to create a chain of childrens' art galleries. Have you ever thought of visiting an art gallery full of childrens' paintings? Sounds awesome to me ...

* For more on Jan Matejko, one of the most important artists in Poland in the 19th century, checkout:

Chris Skinner Author Avatar

Chris M Skinner

Chris Skinner is best known as an independent commentator on the financial markets through his blog,, as author of the bestselling book Digital Bank, and Chair of the European networking forum the Financial Services Club. He has been voted one of the most influential people in banking by The Financial Brand (as well as one of the best blogs), a FinTech Titan (Next Bank), one of the Fintech Leaders you need to follow (City AM, Deluxe and Jax Finance), as well as one of the Top 40 most influential people in financial technology by the Wall Street Journal's Financial News. To learn more click here...

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