More Education


MyRamblings, Kids by maria on 16 Mar 2011 - 03:45  

Just watched a couple more TED Talks regarding education, and they wonderfully reinforce what I've been thinking about, and wrote about in yesterday's Blog Post. The first one is by Sugata Mitra, and he speaks about his "hole in the wall" experiments, where he shows that you can set a computer in front of a group of kids, who have never seen a computer before, and who don't know English, and they will teach themselves how to use it, and often start to teach themselves English as well. His website is and there is some interesting stuff there. Again, fuel kids curiosity, allow them to make mistakes, and they will learn. His most recent Ted Talk is pretty amusing, and he has some amazing stories of children teaching themselves.

The second TED Talk I watched was by Sir Ken Robinson. Actually, I watched two by him. He is a wonderfully entertaining speaker, and I recommend watching both talks. His first talk ties in very well with my post yesterday. He believes that we stifle creativity when we teach kids to always be correct. When we are very young, we are not afraid of being wrong. We say the darndest things. As we get older, we learn in school that different is often wrong, and that there is a single correct answer for all important questions. And, as wrong becomes more stigmatized, we become more afraid of being wrong, and less creative. The talk on creativity and the more recent TED Talk, Bring on the learning revolution! also criticize our current educational system for essentially educating for just a single sort of vocation, and a single sort of learning, and a single sort of individual. His idea is to have a less linear system, but I wish he had spoken a bit more about what that would look like. It did made me think about how I would like to change how progression in school works. I don't believe it is useful to have grades which are sorted by age. I would be very interested to see a school where children move to a new grade when they want to, and feel they are ready, and the teacher agrees. I wonder what that would look like? I would love to see a school try that. Anyone know of a school that has tried that? To facilitate that, I would make school more of a continuum, with a shorter break in the summer, so that there wasn't a specific time that was set aside for changing grades. In yet a different TED talk, Seth Priebatsch explains the power of games, and discusses how this might be used in education. Instead of having a traditional grading system, students could level up when they master a concept. Brilliant.

UPDATE: Check out the animated version of Sir Ken Robinson's Changing Education Paradigms. So well done.
Sir Ken Robinson

If you're not prepared to be wrong, you will never come up with anything original. ~Sir Ken Robinson

Okay, one more. This talk by Salman Kahn has a couple of innovations for education that are pretty brilliant. It combines the ideas of self-pace learning, kids learning together, and using technology to make education more human and personal to present a beautiful idea of what a classroom can look like. His great insite is to give kids videos of lectures so they can follow the lecture at their own pace, and then doing the homework in the classroom, so they can get personal help from the teacher, or another student who is already proficient in that area. I remember thinking how brilliant it was to have lectures on line when one of my math class professors started doing it. Not only could I then sleep in and miss the lecture, but I could pause and rewind my professor as I tried to parse what he was telling me. One thing that was very interesting about this talk, was some data he presented on how kids learn. Sometimes kids get stuck on a concept, and seem to be stagnating. If you let the kids continue to work on it, get help from other kids and/or the teacher, they will eventually figure it out. And once they do figure it out, they will then jump through more concepts at an much higher pace, giving a progression that looks like someone who is slow or a troubled learner at first, but then suddenly is performing like a gifted child, until they get stuck again. So in a traditional school, depending on what teacher they had what time, they may get labeled as brilliant or slow, and we all know what happens when kids receive labels...

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