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: I assume you mean the design of our courses/teaching efforts and faculty-student relationships. The thing I hear most from students is that many professors don't care about them, and this diminishes them in some way. Many cut off their nose to spite their face by skipping class and not doing the work. I had one student tell me that they did work for one professor because they were terrified of her, but she told me that she did work in my class because she wanted me to be proud of her. I think students just want to be 'seen' by their professors. Innovation in the classroom to me is engaging students with experiential learning and empowering through professor-student interaction and respect. Even in large classes students can get the message that you care, or don't.
    • Jun 15 2012: I would agree and add that the power over dynamic diminishes people. Forums like this one are refreshing because it shows that some professors use that power to empower, but all too often this is not the case. In some ways though, the design is set up for it to be this way. As doctoral students, we spend lots of time alone with books, diminishing our social skills. In addition, we are taught to problematize and criticize. Last, the process is so long and arduous. When one becomes a professor, not mention gets tenure, it seems as thought he/she has arrived. The student is in the process of becoming. I can't tell you how many times I've heard professors says " I already have what you're trying to get" or "you have to earn your strips like everybody else." It sounds like hazing and it is.

      I agree with Dr. Gaunt, that even professors must make sure that they see themselves as still evolving and growing. Although they may be more grown, doing so highlights the process/journey rather than the end.
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        Jun 15 2012: My students have challenged me more than any of the doctoral process did. I have a radical approach to the classroom and being responsible for each and every one learning to be curious and responsible for being the consumer of their own productivity. It's much easier than folks think but it's counter=intuitive to everything i was taught.
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      Jun 15 2012: JUST GOT A MESSAGE I REACHED THE MAXIMUM NUMBER OF RATINGS FOR YOU (lol - how ironic). I love what the student said about being proud of herself!!
      • Jun 15 2012: Not sure if I missed something but there is a hope that students do work so they can be proud of themselves asa you suggest, not so that the prof can be proud of them (although we are so often).

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