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Matt Dale

Teacher and Coach, Canyon High School

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At what age could students abandon a general education and enter an immersion-type education in a field of their interest?

An idea I had for educational model where all students did a compulsory education (much different than what we have now) consisting of fundamental skills (academic, social, cultural, interpersonal, artistic, creative and many more life-relevant skills) and then, upon completion, spent the rest of their education immersed in fields where they engage in real life learning in an endless array of fields. Currently, our "compulsory" component lasts 13 years, and is filled with numerous required elements that are unnecessary and irrelevant, while neglecting opportunities for students to learn things that tap into their human potential. At that point, their "free" education is up and their pursuit of their own interests now come at their own financial cost. I imagine that the transition into this more individualized education could come at an earlier time and could be similarly funded by the government until around age 18 (as is the case with the current model).

Topics: education

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  • Mar 12 2011: Hmm. I like this idea but of course the reason it is not already happening is because too much indecision at an early age.

    Perhaps some government funded facilities cloud spring up but how could they be sure of the students they are accepting and would they even get enough students in the first place.

    I love your idea and would love to see it happen but it needs much more planning. I actually know of a art high school in my own town if your interested. I do not know its its private or government however.
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      Mar 13 2011: I have found that many young children are quite definate in their preferences. I would allow small kids to run with their interest in anything until they get to the end or tire of it. They will then, naturally choose something quite different. Children seldom have opportunities to explore their own interests to any great degree. I found with my own children that they often did a binge reading sort of thing where they would read everything that they could on one topic and then stop reading for awhile to delve into say video games. School, however, kept them hopping from one topic to another that often was disjointed or not appealing to the child so at home I augmented with things that kept their minds curious.
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        Jul 13 2011: However, wouldn't all this binging be ultimately unproductive? You'd have programs constantly having their numbers rise and fall as children gain and lose interest in the topics being taught. As well, there's something to be said for teaching consistancy and commitment to a course of action; even the topics we love have areas within them that are essential to that subject, but are not interesting in and of themselves. We need to teach kids to endure the 'deserts' within every subject that connect the various oases of interest.
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          Jul 13 2011: Hi Michael,
          I love the verbal imagery of 'deserts' and 'oases' in learning. It really drives your point home with clarity. We need to find ways to creatively transmit that knowledge or to find a way to help kids 'hang in' until they 'get it'.

          Yes, you are right. There is something important to be learned in perseverance in the hard times of learning. My comment was considering natural inclinations and I was not really referring to the system but rather the role of the parent in partnership with the system. I always felt that I wanted to accept and augment what the traditional system was doing rather than just criticize. It is so easy to criticize but how do we empower in the here and now? I just encouraged my own kids to cooperate and work within the system and then I just supported their own interests with all of my own abilities and research.

          The whole idea is though, that we need to start seeing kids as individuals with individual interests and strengths. Giving them a 19th century industrial education is obviously not working well.

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