TED Conversations

Erik Richardson

Teacher, Richardson Ideaworks, Inc.


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What was your biggest obstacle or frustration during your years of conventional education?

I want to know how to make the next generation better, so after telling me your issue or obstacle, I am also curious to hear how you would translate that into some small change or action that can grow outward from a single classroom to a school and then further.


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    Mar 30 2012: There are 2 sentences that made me go in the wrong way:

    - "Yes, you've got the right answer, but you didn't explain enough how you find it"
    Actually, I understand now that I don't think in a linear way, and nobody could teach me to think this way, with diagram, sketches or plan, instead of the classic linear way to explain maths. I didn't fail, but I was always average. I totally agree Ken Robinson : teachers have problems to walk in their students shoes,

    - "You are too good in class to do short studies". I did always love to work with wood, metal, clay, etc. But I wasn't bad at writing at school. And of course, all my teachers wouldn't imagine that a good student would want to be a woodworker if he could have an "intelligent" work. And now? I have a master's degree in communication, I worked several years as a communication executive, and I am bored. At 29, I plan to become a woodworker, starting all over again. Teachers, parents, education experts: Everybody should invent ways for students to discover and develop their skills. And encourage it, even if they are not "intelligent". The world doesn't need only big brains, but also skilled hands, strong arms, sympathetic smiles. I think THIS is the main problem of the education. How can we avoid it? I don't know. In a dream world, every child should spend some time with a worker, discovering a job he like, and every worker should show his job to kids.
    I don't know if it's clear, I think it's pretty much Ken Robinson's ideas, and I know it's really difficult to change a system like that... But we need it!
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      Mar 30 2012: Yes, Sylvain, I agree. In the U.S. and elsewhere, crafts and trades have fallen in prestige over time, and I think we need to restore the pride and respect those careers deserve. If you are not familiar with the Confreres system in France, you should look it up. That is a model we could do well to emulate.

      I also agree that part of this is the fallacy of reasoning that has created an artificial dichotomy between intelligence and craft/trade jobs. We need to redraw that Venn diagram to give the overlapping area the credit it deserves, and then we need to post that diagram in every classroom.

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