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Marjorie M. Scardino
Marjorie M. Scardino is chief executive of Pearson, an international media group whose primary business operations include Pearson Education (incorporating businesses such as Scott Foresman, Prentice Hall, and Addison Wesley), the Financial Times Group, Spanish media group Recoletos, and Penguin Group. Pearson also owns a 50 percent stake in The Economist Group.
Until January 1997, Scardino was chief executive of The Economist Group, and, prior to 1985, she was a partner in a Savannah, Georgia, law firm and publisher and founder, with her husband, of the Pulitzer Prize-winning newspaper The Georgia Gazette.
In four years, Scardino built the Financial Times, Penguin Books, and Pearson Education into a media and education powerhouse, revolutionizing learning by combining content with technology applications.
Scardino, recently named Europe’s most powerful businesswoman, is a non-executive director of Nokia Corporation and a member of a number of charitable and advisory boards, including The Carter Center and The Business Council.
Growing up in Texarkana, Scardino competed in rodeo barrel races. After graduating Texas High School, Scardino received her bachelor’s degree from Baylor University in 1969 and her law degree from the University of San Francisco in 1975. Her first job was taking dictation at the Associated Press in Washington, D.C.
Scardino is married to journalist Albert Scardino; the Scardinos have three children.
Â“I went to public schools in Texas from first grade through high school. Even Â‘way back then,’ local and state school officials and teachers were trying hard to figure out how to reach and teach all of us, even though we each learned differently. I’m not sure they believed we all could learn (as I do now), but they were trying to help. During my high school years, everyone in the school system was divided into Â“enriched,Â”
Â“regular,Â” and Â“basicÂ” classes. I don’t know what the placement determination was based on, but as far as I was aware, no one thought the classification system was discriminatory or likely to cause scars. I’m sure it did, but I do remember how wonderfully it improved my level of interest in what I was studying.
Â“The best lessons I learned in public school probably, at the time, had to do with the differences between right and wrong. But those seem to have been fed to us through the water supply in those days. The lessons I really remember had to do with how to explore my own intellect. In the first grade, I learned to adore reading. It was a pleasure, not a chore, thanks to a teacher. That early love and passion for reading carried me through dark days, made me think I was special, allowed me to learn things no one would have thought to teach me. That, in turn, led me to explore how I learned: Â‘Was I smart?’ Â‘What was I good at?’
Â‘Why did I love science but not really understand it or excel at it?’ I learned that the boundaries of what I could explore just inside my head were endless. I couldn’t wish anything more wonderful for every student in every school.
Â“The teacher I remember best (there were several, but I’ll pick one) was my sixth-grade teacher, Ruth Williams. She taught me three vital things:
Â“a. How to draw. (She couldn’t produce Rembrandt quality where there was no Rembrandt, but she started with the premise that everyone can draw and taught us the basic shapes and how light changes them.)
Â“b. How big and exciting the world was. (She was the only one who ever taught me any geography. Her way of teaching it was to have us write letters home from every place we studiedÂ—from the Black Forest to Tunisia. I still remember most of what I learned that way.)
Â“c. That writing (as in our geography letters) shouldn’t be boring. It needs to be clearly thought out, but it should also be inventive, have personality. And, of course, it has to be correct. Even if your letter was inventive, if you made a spelling or grammar error, or even an erasure, you were finished.Â”
Â—Marjorie M. Scardino