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 24 2012: Soooo.....given the political clout of the teacher's unions......why can't they act to educate those parents and politicians, and universities to make a more balanced testing/evaluation process?
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      Jul 29 2012: Because rebuilding/improving the education system is a long-term project and politicians need to show short-term improvements - especially to their corporate supporters who, in turn, have to show short-term improvements to their stockholders. Hence, the tax money disappears into things like tax breaks for new corporations instead of for upgrading teacher salaries/education. When teachers' unions have anywhere near as much power in the political process as multinational corporations, then we will see some change - like you're suggesting.

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