TED Conversations

Kyra Gaunt

Speaker, Author, Entrepreneur, Assoc.Professor, Kyraocity Works


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How does the status quo design of student - faculty interactions diminish innovation in the classroom? How to hack higher ed?

This Live Conversation with TED Fellow Kyra Gaunt will open on June 15th, 1pm EDT.
Note: Conversation has been extended until June 17th.

There are many TED talks about innovation in education, but most focuses on K-12 education. There are also amazing talks about breaking the code on our relationship to work, to learning, and to our application of knowledge (aka wisdom).

Students call me Professor G. I am a professor of anthropology, ethnomusicology and racism studies. I am also a 2009 TED Fellow. My students in cultural anthropology are interested in engaging the TED community in a conversation around how to hack the design of the higher ed classroom where emerging adults and their supposed mentors, if a design was scalable, could truly become the consumers of their own productivity as students.

My aim as a professor is to help students realize they are great students, great citizens and great human beings NOW not after graduation.

To truly explore this question, we need diverse perspectives and we intend to discover the power of extending the classroom beyond its four walls with a weekly TED conversation around a question related to hacking the higher ed classroom.

What if the classroom interactions were designed for sustainability, for curiosity, and for innovating thinking? What would we talk about? What could we talk about? And wouldn't we talk about anymore?

Consider grading (but we do need so way to measure accurate thinking). Consider the power dynamics of the student-teacher conversation around grades, assignments, and dialogue. And consider the role of the repositories of knowledge and experience that often goes unnoticed, the students themselves.

Do we need textbooks anymore? Would Google and the students' experience be enough in an anthropology or social science course? #justaskin

Also consider issues of ethnic and gender representation relative to issues of power and training emerging adults to be leaders in a globalizing world.


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  • Jun 15 2012: Hi. I'm studying oline for my MA, with two visits a year to the college. I'm a bit charged from just finishing exams and end of term papers, but I was excited to notice that you're having these important conversations. Please excuse if my intonation feels hardened in any way. This is one of my concerns about higher ed. I don't like the on-line format of my program but it has the research I need to follow what I feel is being called to me in my life's work. I find it very hard to stay healthy but I couldn't afford to do the MA any other way. Although my cohort members and I work on holistic health while we work, I have always felt that universities don't structure programs well to support holistic rhythms and balances. I find this especially hard on my female seratonin-uptake neurological system. Feminist research has shown a correlation between the uptake system in women and eating disorders and depression. It shows a very different uptake system for men, and it makes sense that women would have a very different need in a system of higher ed to accommodate their very different experience, even physically. I am in a qualitative and quanititive program which helps somewhat. I am 50, and waited 25 years to find a program that would actually offer some balance for my gender physiology. I don't feel that I've really found it but time is running out for me. Has anyone else had this sense or concern about how to bring holism into higher academia?
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      Jun 15 2012: Yiana, I am SO INTO what you are speaking about. THAT is the sustainable classroom concerns I am speaking to without taking about health and wellbeing with my students. What it means to be a great citizen and a great human being starts with listening for what empowers the whole person. Including wellness. I have such stories to tell. I think we could prevent tragedies like Virginia Tech from happening if we were more sensitive.

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