TED Conversations

Erik Richardson

Teacher, Richardson Ideaworks, Inc.


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How do we re-embody the education system?

We are embodied. We are not just minds but our education system (and the cubicle farm waiting at the end of it) treats us as if we are. Exploration and adventure were once ways that the more restless souls among us could break out and push back our frontiers in one way or another. As many of the talks above show, that particular part of our worldview has been lost-even when talking about explorers. (Wolfe's attempt to compare microbiology research to exploits in Egypt or the rainforest are a good encapsulation of that loss.)

As a teacher, I constantly see students who are restless and brilliant but are stifled by being trapped in a room, in a desk, listening, or scribbling words and numbers down on paper. These restless kids are all too often our best thinkers, our future innovators, our Columbuses and our Florence Nightingales; but we hold down their bodies and that holds down their minds. Ken's talk is great, but it misses it's own best point: it's not creativity that saved the dancer - it's recovering the body.

The question is, besides just adding more physical education classes back into the curriculum, how do we create an education system that is embodied? How do we recover physicality to open up our mind's real potential?


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    Jul 21 2012: I recently listened to an Audio book on "How to think like Leonardo Da Vinci" it was a little cheesy, but got to the root of creative thinking and a good way to go about it. That along with listening to Sir Ken Robinson prior to that, got me thinking about the internet age and how it can transform paradigms. For those who have used Facebook, Craigslist, Meetup.org, and I especially like Couchsurfing.org. These are all free, and they bring people together for a focus (social, commerce, learning/hobby; traveling) they are all cooperatively lead/developed. So with all the news about the indebtness of our country with school debt, I posed the question on facebook:

    "IN this internet age, why isn't there an accredited alternate to the expensive higher education system that we have, one that is co-operatively lead from the bottom up, and not the top down. Anyone can afford this education, and can be replicated throughout the world, so that poor and rich alight can experience and foster their minds to a greater cause. I wonder if this will ever happen. Something I have been thinking about with the great debate about student debt in this country.

    Basically if you can boil down what employers like in a college education and re-spin it so that it can be accomplished by a group that is co-operatively lead? I think the internet could be a huge boon for cooperatives and eduation is one of those focuses that it could revolutionize

    What I have been thinking about is groups of like minded thinkers wanting to learn subjects (ex. architechture, sculpture) and having them learn from their peers, the information is out there, they just need to have the will and put the time/effort? Perhaps along the way creating portfolio's of there accomplishments, and distinctions from there peers, along with having a way to accredit their efforts. A group of DaVincian thinkers! I hope I see something develop with the new internet age that helps people around the world like these other website
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      Jul 21 2012: Outside of the issue of accreditation of degrees, we do have Harvard and MIT's edX just starting up as well as Stanford's Coursera, which is a collaboration that includes Princeton and perhaps a dozen other great universities.
      We have indeed entered an exciting time in first quality, free online education.
      These institutions are accredited, of course, but the open programs do not involve awarding of degrees, in part because a degree usually signifies that the student has demonstrated a "passing" level of understanding of course content. Evaluation of how much students have learned rather that what they enrolled for or their attendance requires someone to make that assessment- to read the essays or lab reports. This is where the challenge lies in terms of open availability of cost-free college credentials.

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