David Boulton

David Boulton

  • Learning activist and founder of 5 companies
  • Children of the Code main project – Public Television documentary
  • Smithsonian Award for Innovation

Travels from Louisville, KY

Keynote Fee: Please contact Forte Speakers

David Boulton looking straight ahead

President of Learning Stewards and Director of the Children of the Code Project, David Boulton is a learning-activist, technologist, public speaker, documentary producer, author, and a featured blogger for the National Association of School Superintendents.

Boulton’s articles on learning have appeared in: the Brain-Mind Bulletin, In Context, the California School Board’s Journal, the American Music Teacher, Management and Conjecture (France), Centecemes (Mexico) Information Research (England), New Horizons for Learning, Young Scholar, Quantum Leap (China) and others. Articles about his work have been featured in blogs, journals, and books including: the Journal of Developmental Education, Poisoned Apple: the Bell Curve Crisis and How Our Schools Create Mediocrity and Failure, Working Wisdom (Timeless Skills and Vanguard Strategies for Learning Organizations), the Interactive Corporation: Enhancing Profits, Performance and Productivity in Your Business, Schools Out: Hyperlearning and the end of Education, On The Brain and Research Access. His “Stewarding Healthy Learning” blog is featured on the site of the National Association of School Superintendents.

Boulton’s K-12 education orientation and vision have been presented at the World Futurist Society,the 21st Century Learning Initiative, the New American Schools Design Team, at both the California and National Education Summits, the Ontario (Canada) School Board Association, the International Baccalaureate School of Hawaii, the Chinese Ministry of Education, and the Dalian Medical School. He was the featured presenter at dozens of Apple Computer educational events and has presented his work on the Children of the Code Project at over 100 events including the national education conferences all across the U.S. Boulton’s websites have won the Teacher Information Network Gold Award and the Innovative Teaching Concepts Award of Excellence.

He authored four patents and founded five companies, and his last start-up, DiaCom/2way (today, ‘Validar’) won a major national award for Innovation and was featured in Upside magazine’s Top 100 private companies list. Boulton has been an adviser to the Chair of the California Senate Education Committee and a member of the U.S. D.O.E.’s Gateway Project. He appeared in the PBS Television show, The New Science of Learning: Brain Fitness for Kids.  Boulton is a past member of the 21st Century Learning Initiative and the Dialogue Research Project at M.I.T.’s Organizational Learning Center.


Mind-Shame: The Dark Heart of Learning Difficulties

In this presentation David Boulton will discuss how we can learn in ways that retard, diminish, or disable our capacities for learning and that can result in “mind-shame” – the most-wide spread yet least understood learning disability of them all.   Boulton will connect the dots between ‘shame’ and the ‘health of learning’ and how to ‘reframe shame’ – one of the key components of ‘stewarding healthy learning’.

Unhealthy LearningNot all learning is healthy. We can learn our way into illnesses, addictions, attitudes, and beliefs that have profoundly unhealthy effects not only to our bodies but, even more importantly, to our learning. We can unwittingly learn maladaptive cognitive and emotional habits that insidiously misorient, misdirect, and in many cases, disable our learning. In this presentation Boulton will explore the critical differences between “healthy” and “unhealthy” learning and provide attendees the mental lenses they need to recognize and reduce unhealthy learning.

Rebooting Our Mental Models

How we understand something – the mental model we have of it – shapes how we learn, think, and act.  The main impediments to educational progress are not innate deficits in our children; they are the misorienting and misguiding mental models through which we experience our children’s learning. In this presentation, David Boulton, ‘reboots’ the mental models through which educators and parents understand and experience learning and their mission and purpose as educators and parents.

The Challenge of Change: Reinvisioning the Mission of Education

Today’s young children will become adults in a world profoundly unlike any world any human being has ever lived in. They are growing up in a world in which the rate of change, the complexity of change, and the implications of change are far beyond our ability to reliably predict. What should children learn in order to be prepared for life and work in a future we can no longer envision? 

What should today’s children learn in order to be ready for a world in which virtually everything known about everything known is instantly available through inexpensive mobile devices? What facts should they remember? What mental skills must they have when these same devices will be able to coach them, in real-time, through learning to perform virtually any task they feel challenged by? In a future where A.I. and robotics are more powerful and cost advantageous than humans at performing what were once exclusively human tasks, what kind of jobs will exist for humans? What should today’s children learn in order to be ready to compete for jobs with tomorrow’s computers and robots?

In this presentation David Boulton will conduct a learning journey into these and other issues related to reinvisioning the mission of education.

Stewarding the Health of Our Children’s Learning

Babies learn to become children, children learn to become teens, and teens learn to become adults. Learning, more than any other human activity, shapes virtually every dimension of each and all of our. How well we grow through the traumas, challenges, and disadvantages we experience depends on how well we learn. How well we rise to the opportunities and advantages we experience depends on how well we learn. From our emotional health and maturity, to our mental health and wisdom, our innermost growth and outermost achievement depends on how well we learn. But it’s not just what we learn or how we learn; our lives depend on how well we learn in general – on the health of our learning. When it comes to the physical health of our children we have a wealth of scientific and common sense measures to guide us.  But when it comes to the health of our children’s learning, the central dynamic informing and shaping how well they learn to grow and develop into adults, we are, comparatively, oblivious.  In this presentation David Boulton will explore the critical differences between “healthy” and “unhealthy” learning and share how educators can become ‘stewards of healthy learning’.

The Code and the Challenge of Learning to Read It

The deeper our understanding of ‘what’s at stake’ and ‘what’s involved’ in learning to read the better we can differentiate our methods of reading instruction to meet the needs of struggling readers.

How does the brain create the simulated language experience we call reading?  What makes learning to read so difficult? How does learning to read affect our intelligence, emotional development, and the overall health of our learning?  What’s the difference between dyslexia and reading improficiency?  What is the difference between inherited weaknesses and growing up in environments that insufficiently exercise the neuro-developmental prerequisites of reading?  How does learning to read affect self-esteem and how does self-esteem affect learning to read? How do the feelings evoked by learning to read difficulties exacerbate learning to read difficulties?  In this session Boulton will explore the personal and societal consequences of reading difficulties with emphasis on how protracted learning to read difficulties affects intelligence, emotional development, academic performance, and life-learning trajectories.



“David challenges the status quo of thought about learning and causes you to go deeper into the process of how children learn and why they learn or don’t learn.”  John Zauner, Executive Director, Georgia School Superintendents Association

“It’s a wonderful thing that you’re doing. I appreciate the scope of what you’re doing. It’s called information improvement which is the prime issue in knowledge advancement. How do you put things together in ways that are easily understandable and communicable to other people? You’re talking about a big thing. People see pieces of it and you’re putting together a whole lot of things that no individual one of us has a grasp on.”  Todd Risley, Professor Emeritus of Psychology at the University of Alaska, Co Author: Meaningful Differences in the Everyday Experience of Young American Children

From ATTENDEES of recent events

“Powerful and society-changing information! This should be at the top of everyone’s agenda in politics, public health and education. Everyone needs to hear this. This is a very powerful world view and I embrace it. Paradigm shifting! I was completely engaged with the presentation format, content, dialogue, materials and the thought-provoking learning. I get it. I am highly intrigued to learn more about this. I am an early childhood director and we are in the trenches with this every minute of our day. The emphasis on the health of children through learning resonates with me and all of my colleagues and I will use your resources to continue to learn. This will stick with me forever! I will passionately share this vision for ‘Stewarding the health of our children’s learning’ with others.”   B. O’Hearn, Early Childhood Director, Wichita Collegiate School, KS

“I had the pleasure of meeting and working with David when my organization brought the Children of the Code presentation to Oakland, CA seven years ago. His depth of knowledge and intense passion for the topic was obvious. Since then, in my own work around equity in education, I have called on the rich archive of video interviews he has developed as part of Children of the Code. He has provided a valuable resource to all educators working to close the achievement gap. His current venture, Learning Stewards, takes the important information about healthy learning originally presented in the Children of the Code beyond of the realm of reading development and gives a broader audience access to important findings in neuroscience and healthy learning. Our current schools of education can learn a thing or two from David’s ability to build a powerful platform for organizing and disseminating valuable, useable knowledge.”  Zaretta Hammond, Instructional Designer, Professional Developer, Literacy Consultant

“After listening to David Boulton, who explained and played several video interviews in his (National Circle of Learning Conference) keynote address, it was as if the pieces of the puzzle magically appeared and fit into place. Thirty minutes into the lecture, I was wishing my entire staff had been there to hear Mr. Boulton! His presentation inspired a hunger in me to learn more about Mind-Shame and the Children of the Code Project. This project has the potential to revolutionize education in such a profound manner!”  A. Hancock, Educator, Tahoka Elementary School, Tahoka , TX

From ORGANIZERS of Events

“Not only does he deliver pertinent, current and evidenced based information to a field that sometimes finds itself drowning in misinformation, he does so with passion. Combining both straight lecture with a multimedia web-based presentation, he engaged our participants from the start and maintained their interest and participation throughout. Unlike so many other speakers, he did not come with a canned presentation, but did his homework beforehand finding out about our participants and our company. The presentation he delivered was crafted to meet our needs making it that much more meaningful and practical to our members. A keynote is meant to energize, inspire and inform and that is exactly what David Boulton does. We have already booked him to return next year!”  Janie Feinberg President, J.P. Associates


“This is probably the most interesting, educational, insightful, researched, helpful, meaningful information I’ve received since becoming a teacher.”  J. Stillman, Budlong Elementary, L.A. CA

“The general message (Healthy Learning) being spread is something that everyone needs to hear and understand in order to maximize the learning and success of future generations. This is critical to the future of our society as a whole! I thoroughly enjoyed the presentation and cannot begin to put into words how powerful it was to examine the concept of reading with a whole new set of eyes. The one-day experience was remarkable and unforgettable!”  J. Shirron, Teacher, LodiUSD, Lodi, CA