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What was not taught in school that you realize, REALLY should have been? (Why?)

For me, things like Financial Literacy, Entrepreurism, Cooking and Sex Ed (and the Psychology of Relationships), were not taught. And I realize that I have had to spend quite a few years now bumbling through life with the rest of my friends, rather clueless. Yet, I'd always score high on calculus quizzes, in labelling body parts and I am an excellent speller. Oh! And I am really confident! : /

I feel I have useless superpowers in some areas and not enough power in others where I super need it. (Perhaps my ignorance is ripe for being picked on by predators in society...) Most of the things that I wish I learned, improved the quality of my life and mind once I did learn them.

What is your deal?

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    Sep 19 2012: Genevieve, For two years I taught a class in daily life sciences. We went through all of the things that come up in your life.

    I taught girls how to read dip sticks .. add oil, Fill up with gas. Change tires (with a cheater bar for leverage). Boys how to shop in grocery stores, cook, clean house, do laundry, sew, etc ... we all shared in each others jobs so that there was no boy job or girl job. We all learned how to do basic bookkeepping. Balance checkbooks. write and read resumes. fix a toliet, light a hot water heater, clean a stove, clean a house heater and restart it. basic hammer and nails and simple plumbing.

    I have had students come back and say that one class saved them big bucks over time and was applied almost everyday. The girls expecially say they are no longer getting ripped off at the gas stations and by mechanics.

    The class had plenty of kids signing up but as usual budgets made the decision to cut it.

    It was the most fun I have ever had as an instructor.

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      Sep 19 2012: That's great Bob. In fact, I won't own a car in life, partially for the reason that I realize that it is a giant, expensive piece of machinery whose inner workings I HAVE NO IDEA ABOUT :( I suspect that people are always trading up because their Car Literacy is bad and they just want a none-issue car. Beyond learning how to drive, I think what you taught should be included in Driver's Ed.

      On the flipside, I've always dated men who cooked really well (North Americans and Europeans)! Healthy, great sourcing of groceries etc.

      You're making me think now...
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        Sep 19 2012: Part of the problem is that we have always had girl jobs and guy jobs. Real men don't do that. Or that is not lady like. Once we get by that we are approaching a solution in education and life.

        Thanks for taking the time to reply.

        By the way your comment "Your making me think now ..." is the highest form of complement in a conversation. Thank you.

  • Sep 25 2012: Wellness was not taught in schools, so now we have an adult population that is mostly illiterate about self-responsibility around their health. This gives the pharmaceutical and medical industries an opportunity to have too much power. We have a 'sickness' industry, not a 'health' industry. They make huge profits from our ignorance. "Wellness as a second language" is a slogan I have coined to promote. Wellness should be treated only secondary to a primary language in schools. Children should graduate knowing more about their minds and their bodies than they do about their cars and their iPhones.
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    Sep 25 2012: Hi Genevieve

    I have many problems with the design of the schools and the idea that square rooms with 30 kids facing the supreme leader is the best way to learn and teach, but if there was one thing that I think about not learning and really wish I did, it would be growing food.

    I wish gardening and food production was a mandatory subject. This is especially relevant for city kids who probably think that growing food is for houses with gardens but there is a lot that can be done in an apartment, like grow tomatoes in old 2L milk cartons. These food growing lessons could be stand alone but could be easily incorporated into other subjects such as home economics (obviously) and science, as well as art (dyes) and history (ethnobotany).

    Japanese kindergartens and elementary school have a lot more gardening than I grew up with but it would be nice if it continued on through all of secondary school as well.

    Bring on the plants!
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      Sep 26 2012: Hi Jason :) Did you see Pam Warhurst's TED talk on how she and a group of ladies just one day decided to grow plants all over town--now it is a major tourist attraction as people go on snacking tours (like, cornstalks at the police station)! What the kids in that town must be learning!


      I feel blessed to have at least learned about cooking food at home, and all my friends and ex-boyfriends have been great cooks. In Canada, we do have a cursory experience with growing some bean plants in school, but as a serious life skill to cultivate and harvest regularly, that would rock.

      Maybe some of the concrete on the playground can turn into a community garden for recess? Greenhouse in the winters! Instead of playground supervisors, horticultural specialists!
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      Sep 26 2012: I'm not sure you've seen the video, but the relevance of this video is pretty uncanny to your post (Stephen Ritz: A teacher growing green in the South Bronx): http://www.ted.com/talks/lang/en/stephen_ritz_a_teacher_growing_green_in_the_south_bronx.html
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        Sep 29 2012: Hi James thanks for the link. I was familiar with this talk, and you are right this is exactly what schools need. Unfortunately it is still just an idea worth spreading and not the norm...but the seeds are spreading!
    • Sep 26 2012: Have a look at http://www.kitchengardenfoundation.org.au/. It has now been instituted in hundreds of schools in Australia, and it has had government backing. Jamie Oliver has now started the same thing in England.
  • Sep 18 2012: Philosophy (in a broad sense) from a young age. Problem solving, criticising opinions and standards openly and honestly, thinking about the how and why of things, leading to better decision-making and a more open-minded nature.
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    Sep 18 2012: Waiting until children enter school may be too late to help them learn many of the valuable lessons they need to learn.
    We really need to do a better job of nurturing children from birth, up to the time they enter school, and day care or Headstart programs fail to do this.
    Children, including newborns, are not receiving the nurturing they need.
    It's too easy to blame schools as the problem, but we have increasingly given them the responsibility to do the things we as parents should be doing.
    Contributing to this problem is the break down of the extended family structure. We have none on the mentoring relationships later in life from grandparents and aunts and uncles.
    While the response is that families need two wage earners in order to make ends meet, my reply is simply, "Don't have children."
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      Sep 18 2012: I agree. In this climate of economic uncertainty, Margaret Sanger's old 1920 speeches about the considerations people should make before thinking of raising children are still relevant. It can't just be a romantic consideration. Children, their education and their impact on society are real, as are the economic and emotional requirements to bring them up in a worthy way.

      Educated Parenthood as a social movement?
  • Sep 23 2012: I will keep this short. I guarantee none of you believe in conspiracy but just look how inept governments are. They control the education and many other aspects in our lives. I have read much on the deliberate dumbing down of america with essentially brainwashing. If you can get more than half the population to depend on government it will grow larger and at some point with the technology will pretty much control your lives. There is plenty of evidence out there. Remember you aren't going to find proof. A court case depends on evidence if there was proof the case is over. They don't teach central theory or natural law instead you must memorize capitals of the world...... You would say why people do this? If you were rich and powerful, wouldn't you make sure you would want to stay rich and powerful? Yes I know this comment will be glossed over. All you "intellectuals" will sit there providing witty banter with each other as you think you are having a progressive conversation to help save the world or fulfill your ego of having such said conversation. The answer is right in front of your face. I could go on and on, but it is pointless, you must look into yourselves.
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      Sep 24 2012: you are right, i don't believe in conspiracy. i don't believe that politicians can or want to do anything of that magnitude. the reason why children are treated that way in school because parents want that. people want to be irresponsible, stupid and ignorant. and they want their children to be that way too.

      example. imagine schools start to teach proper nutrition. how awkward that would be if 12 years old children realized that their parents know nothing about the subject, and they all eat crap. it would lead to tension within the family. and as we know, family is sacred, and we don't want the school to "interfere" with the family, do we?
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      Sep 24 2012: hi rick,

      can I ask you what kind of things you recommend for conspiracy believers to do, once they realize that it is all hopeless and out of thier power to fix?
      • Sep 24 2012: To do? It really depends on the angle a conspirator is taking. Taking a step back and looking at the complex world we live in I have realized a few things. It really isn't hopeless. But it is projected hopeless because the perception is "most people are asleep, we need to wake them, they are sheep!" But trying to explain to a non believer is futile. The ironic part is some conspirators go overboard with their ideas to the public which in turn opens the conspirator niche to ad hominem attacks to completely discredit the whole group. For example, some believe the earth is hollow and aliens and rich people live down there and communicate. I keep an open mind but I just laugh at these ideas that have zero evidence. It is pure conjecture. I am not religious as an agnostic and I am not an Objectivist as Ayn Rand would call it. I have 100 pages left in Atlas Shrugged. I find it unsettling how true that book is. Lets put Jesus Christ's spiritual beliefs to the side for a moment. To reiterate I don't have a religion, but I find parts of the bible interesting. Jesus Christ and Ayn Rand who have opposite beliefs both warn of the same breakdowns in society that lead to complete ineptness in a functioning world. But what is functioning? The "society" decides what labels are good and bad. In a way all societies are doomed. Anarchy is portrayed as chaos but it is precisely the reverse. There are no simple transactions anymore, everything has a policy on top of a policy along with several types of taxes. The dollar (backed by gold) was to be an efficient bartering system for this great free market society. That society is slowly dissipating over generations. The conditioning one receives from birth is no different from brainwashing. I have learned more about central theory and natural law in one year than any education would provide. Beyond this diatribe, what one must do....
      • Sep 24 2012: 1 Is to truly think for themselves. Not just see something that makes them think about things or rationalize something. Anything can be rationalized off of a false premise. I don't talk about conspiracy cavalierly because no one will believe it. I came across a kid a few months that was in high school. We had that conspiracy connection but neither of us divulged our "crazy" beliefs. But he said that in school they are learning and believing that if you said that "90% of muslims are terrorists." That this is completely racist. That comment is not racist whatsoever. He was looking around his classroom and he sees people just soaking it in and agreeing. He couldn't believe how stupid people have become. Many people believe things are racist comments or acts all the time when they are not. On the conspiracy side this would be considered a deliberate tactic to to keep dissonance among the people. Look at that Trayvon Martin case in Florida, the media got caught red handed making it look like a white on black hate crime. If you beat something into someones brainless mind they will believe it at some point. e.g., "Change" "Their fair share", "It's the right thing to do", these Obama comments have no substance or reasoning whatsoever. Before you judge, I believe the Republicans are just as bad.
        2 Is to love your friends and family and support community. Truly keep a balanced mind. Any type of negative energy emanating from someone because they had a bad day, etc, truly rubs off to the people around them. I could go on and on about this also but I will try to wrap up this whole crude summation of everything. As you mentioned "hopelessness" many conspirators have been led down the wrong path (fear mongering tools). What better way to make someone feel catatonic, for lack of a better word, than fear. The endless capacity of our mind is the greatest tool we have, and many use it poorly or the wrong way. I am willing to continue if any1 is interested
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          Sep 24 2012: I think your first point of thinking for yourself is universally admired. Though, it's all super-subejctive, isn't it?

          I was more curious of how a said "conspiracy theorist" might practically go about employing the alternate set of knowlege that s/he has learned. For example, in order to change the world---if that is a goal etc.? Or, is it such a small group, thinking negative thoughts, that it ends up being defeatist?
      • Sep 25 2012: It is super subjective, but what that person believes should believe it whole-heartedly from their own passion not from fear from rejection of the "society". Today's society has gotten so bad that many people are in other's business. When it doesn't affect them in anyway. Talk about a lack of harmony. That discord is bad for everybody except the people at the top that control everything. It allows them to lay down more policies on top of policies to make it look like they are fixing the discord. This would lead to your "change the world" idea. Everyone is so dumbed down that they just let government do what they need to do. To physically actually change it, you don't even need someone to believe in conspiracy. You need men/women who are great leaders with great minds that support community as a whole. I don't see that anywhere. THere have been people like this though, JFK, MLK, Lennon, etc and they were all killed. Yes, I know I am a conspiracy nut, I have no evidence of things like this that the big man is holding everyone down but to me it is more than a coincidence that these people are killed. I don't believe in coincidences. So in general, unless someone is going to take that leadership role, they can still keep a balanced mind and spread love/energy. For how cheesy that sounds it keeps more harmony in the world than dissonance. The more dissonance there is, it will just get worse for the general population.

        Oh and if you are a bible believer, this can't be stopped. That is why I find Book of Daniel and Revelation interesting. Not saying I believe it but God will come down fullfill the rapture and cleanse this earth. I personally can't believe in a personal God like that. Genevieve have you read Atlas Shrugged? If you haven't I would love if you took the time to read it and hear your thoughts. I can tell you are way smarter than me, I would love to to hear your thoughts on the book.
        • Sep 26 2012: Great conversation! Yes, a quest for truth always leads to conspiracy as the lies unfold over time (as every generation confesses on their deathbeds). Identifying conspiracies is a part of critical thinking which society has been deliberately taught to shun (since the perpetrators of conspiracy are those in the power to teach).

          But what I was waiting to hear is the natural law of Conflict of Interest. Conflicts of interest are any situations where one's personal interest or benefit negatively influences one's actions of benefiting another person's interest or benefit. It is proper for conflicts of interest to be publicly stated up front beforehand, but through its powerful influence it is kept secret so as to prolong the selfish advantage. This all springs from an attitude of (cold) war where everyone is your personal enemy and that you would be foolish to sacrifice for another person's gain willingly - yet that is exactly what love is!

          In studying conflicts of interest and uncovering unknown conspiracies, I have devised the following litmus tests: 1)What do they say they want to do to benefit you? 2) What, if possible, could instead benefit them alone? 3) How easy is it for them to conceal this?

          By applying this during the Gulf oil spill, I surprisingly discovered a HUGE conflict of interest actually prolonging the oil spill: 1) On the news were US Military personel in helicopters and boats all over the Louisiana beaches and coastline saying they will do everything they can to help the local fishermen and townsfolk stating BP would pay the bill, while at the same time there were absolutely no one at the spill site trying to stop the gushing crude! 2) The US Government had a HUGE self interest in that the disaster was caused by one of the world's biggest (Brittish) oil companies, the US had the power to stop the spill or just simply let it get worse to increase cleanup costs. 3) I bet we'd never see the total bill. So said, so done. Someone's rich!!!
        • Sep 26 2012: Bruce Lipton, in "Spontaneous Evolution", compares corporations with dinosaurs - big bodies and small brains - and believes that they will go the same way because they cannot adapt to the changing environment. As we become more conscious, from the noosphere (internet and 5.6 billion cell phones), then the number of customers will drop and withhold the 'oxygen supply' from the large organisations who try to keep us dumbed down. It is already starting to happen.
  • Sep 20 2012: It was lack of cultivating Critical Thinking. The education was about covering/mastering the text books and teachers were programmed to convey the knowledge from the books to student's brain. I don't recall any interdiciplinary curriculum or holistic approach to raise a whole human being.
    • Sep 20 2012: You have hit the nail directly on the head. Critical Thinking should be a component of teaching from primary school on up. Currently it is only taught in a few universities and then I am told it takes most of a semester to get the basic ideas across.
      The Collegiate Learning Association did a study on US college students and found that over their time in school, the students did not measureably increase their abilities at critical thinking, or even learning in general.
      • Sep 27 2012: Can you explain what is meant by the term "critical thinking"?
        • Sep 27 2012: Stealing from wikipedia here.

          Critical thinking clarifies goals, examines assumptions, discerns hidden values, evaluates evidence, accomplishes actions, and assesses conclusions

          There is nothing negative about this, it is a critique of evidence to extract bias, assumptions and beliefs from a thought process.

          For example, we often think that for evey cause there is an effect and therefore for every effect there is a fundamental cause.
          That is a fallacy in that effects can have multiple causes, or be caused by a number of triggering causes that are inadequate in them selves but not when taken in combination.

          Our brains are wired for a particular frame of reference and moving outside that frame is difficult, non-intutive, and often impossible to visualise. We risk arriving at a poor answer if we allow our biases to accompnay us.

          Critical thinking also requires (sometimes) a close look at our assumptions.
          For example, I took an online course recently and a reference from Charles Duell was put forth. Charles Duell is widely quoted as saying "Whatever can be invented has already been invented" He was in charge of the US Patent office at the time (1902).
          A cursory scan of google shows this time and time again, however the google entries all reference each other and none actually referenced the original article which of course said exactly the opposite. The mis quote being reported locally in the newpaper at the time.
          Critical thinking watches for errors of omission and commision in our thought processes
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      Sep 20 2012: Neil DeGrasse Tyson calls this "Science Literacy", where like in Science, you only accept answers tentatively, always questioning and searching for exceptions, better models, counter-evidence etc.

      Socrates constantly qualified all ideas to refine or eventually debunk long-held beliefs. My favourite being that democracy can sometimes mean that the majority block of people get to push through possibly bad ideas. @#$% gets even worse when dealing with the mind-bending weighting weirdness of the electoral college.

      Though it is true that the world is largely built by low-bidders, automatons, and greedsters, it is also populated with some revolutionary geniuses and bipartisan people who care. We can at least do our part to make sure our locality, and every person we speak to, engage in meaningful Critical Thinking. The details of what topic exactly will engage this Critical Thinking (as we are discussing here: Film, Software development etc.), is a happy panning of gold as far as I'm concerned. Having worked in schools with achingly glacial administrative agility, I just did it myself. And I was never disgusted at a student or person for not digging deeper, I just tried to increase the incidences in their lives where they could experience the phenomenon.
  • Sep 18 2012: 1) A list of logical fallacies (with examples) and how to recognize them.

    2) How to pay bills, conduct bank business, and all those other little administrative things that are very important in life but never get explained to you before you suddenly run into them when you move out of your parent's house.
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      Sep 18 2012: Sorry to be needy, but can you list a couple of your favourite logical fallacies here? :)
      • Sep 19 2012: "Argumentum ad populum"

        X must be true because many people believe it to be true (fallacy because most people are not experts).

        "Slippery slope"

        X must always lead to disaster simply because it's possible it sets in motion a chain of events (fallacy because it doesn't have to happen and because by the same logic the opposite of X must also lead to disaster).

        "Circular reasoning"

        The Bible must be true because the Bible says it's true (I don't have to explain why this is a fallacy).

        "Appeal to fear"

        The thought of living in a godless universe scares me, therefore god must exist (also pretty obvious).

        "Post hoc ergo propter hoc"

        Y happened later than X, so X must have been the cause of X (fallacy because there doesn't have to be a causal relation).

        "Neglecting regression to the mean" (strongly related to the previous fallacy)

        It had not rained for months in London, then I did a rain dance and the next morning it rained, so my rain dance works (fallacy because rain is very common in London: after months of drought there is a very high probability of rain on the next day).

        "Reductio ad Hitlerum" (the internet fallacy)

        Hitler had highways constructed, so highways are bad, or the Soviet Union had universal healthcare so universal health care is bad and leads to communism (fallacy because not everything a bad person does has to be evil).
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    Oct 1 2012: I think your list of subjects (finance, entrepreneurship, phys ed and health) is spot on!

    I (half) jokingly share with my students that "health" class and driver's ed are the two most important classes they'll take in high school. What makes this humorous is that they are (usually) taught by the *least* inspired teachers in the school. There are exceptions, however - I've seen an *excellent* and inspired heath teacher (Joan Stear at Glen Este High School, for instance) work hard to innovate health instruction.

    What makes these courses very difficult to teach are their adolescent attitudes toward these subjects. The more immediate the topic (especially as it pertains to risk-taking) the more defensive teens are towards it. It's as though they have to defend their mental "limitations" to risk-aversion. Viewed this way, it's easy to understand a teen's eye-rolling on subjects like safe-sex and defensive driving.

    I find it shocking how little adolescent student know about finance. Part of this stems from their inability to see themselves retiring. For a group that thinks they'll "live forever", they have very little idea on *how* they'll finance that option.

    Financial literacy, however, is an area ripe for education because it is one of the few domains that:
    1) teen find inherently interesting
    2) adults can demonstrate a clear mastery
    This gives teachers a powerful - though small - window of opportunity to to have a relevant dialogue with their students.

    One exercise I use when starting a unit on finance is to take a student's picture and digitally "age" it:

    I then have them paste a copy on their folder and tell them:
    "This is *you* in 50 years."
    "This is the person who you're working for."
    "This is the person who you're saving for."

    Maybe because of this (more than in any class I've taught) students have told me "This class has changed the way I think about the world."
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      Oct 1 2012: Amazing! Is there a way we can learn more about what you teach in that class? I assume you teach high school?
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    Sep 24 2012: How about truth? Wouldn't the truth in history be a good place to start? History, recorded by the victors, is seldom the truth of conflict. Historical fact?, the facts are obscurred, twisted and distorted. Criminals are portrayed as heroes and some of the social heroes are portrayed as criminals. This is personal opinion, not intended to direspect anyone, listen to my question about the lack of, or deliberate destruction of.historical fact..however it is perceived is personal and irrelavant. Here is my reoccurring contemplative conundrum; Why is it, that History, which should be fairly simple to report accurately and truthfully is brought to us as something sacred from the past, with all the war monuments and statues of generals, list after list of heroic deeds, etc., etc. Only to find out later on that hardly any of it was exactly the truth....when it could have and should have been precisely so? On the other hand, we have numbers, and math, algebra, trig, and on and on ,which are a mystery, however, these are taught like a science, hardly ever revered for the meta-etheral mystery that they truly are, the numbers, never ending, equations mystically establishing truth in the universe...and they are definitely without end or beginning! Am I being understood? I suffer from a lack of polished articulation and I ask you to bear with me. History, recorded data was instead, nothing but fabrication and perverted truth, and numbers truly a sacred learning were taught like a boring science. Now I have an almost sacred respect for the numbers that were never edified in my past school experiences. Fundemental Errors!!!
    As innocent as this may come across, it is not ao much innocence or niavete, as it is just believing people will not deliberately mislead me, especially instructors of education. Years ago, In European History at Grinnell College, I questioned the lack of truth and was very confused by the answer from the Professor. He did not lie, and I love him for that.
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      Sep 24 2012: Hi Tim, I think teaching truth is definitely a part of Critical Thinking skills. But unfortunately, it goes against ideas of patriotism--which is huge in some countries.

      The inflamed tensions between China and Japan now over those islands between them have to do with both school systems not having done enough to educate current adults in charge to handle this with any sense of cool.

      In Japan, few adults discuss (or know about) the Nanking Massacre; and Japan's Imperialist crimes against all of its neighbours, the citizens of which, many are still alive and angry. With Japanese heads of states pledging to go and visit the islands just to plant a flag, or the unclear stance on the impropriety of whitewashing textbooks etc. by the education ministry just threatens to drag this goo-brained foreign policy out further.

      In China, the idea of victimhood is de rigueur for many, but of course the country itself has also suppressed countless territories and people much worse than in this case of the unihabited islands. Furthermore, why are mass demonstrations allowed to happen for causes like this, but not against the government itself? So many things to consider fishy.

      I'm sure there are people out there with their cars and businesses burnt down, with restaurants and hotels empty because of mis-education and the inability for either system to be smart going forward--they should be the ones that are inflamed.
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        Sep 26 2012: greetings Genevieve, Your knowledge belies your youth. I have read most of your posts, profile and your blogs. I usually try to know the people a little better that I spend time with, share conversation with, and in your case I have to include, am intrigued by. I am not trying to flatter you, I don't think you want that, and you definitely don't need it. More than just an education, your words demonstrate sincere thought. That makes me want to know someone better. It's obvious your contemplation's have cut a wide swath. Sharing with people like yourself not only inspires me to continue to think and learn, you have the ability to make my world seem a little smaller and a little more friendly. I wanted to take the time to thank you.
        This is a great question and many people answered sincerely, too. I completely support teaching our children to tend gardens and purify water that was mentioned. Thanks again, and know i'll be following more of your posts and opinions. It's been my pleasure. I hope the people and country of Japan are healing. I am in support of their efforts to restrict and resist nuclear power. It seems as though much of the world is taking notice of their courage to protest. Tim
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    Sep 24 2012: Funny that the only thing you need to teach a human...is how to change perspectives based on information not emotion.

    Let me also note the danger in introducing complex ideas to children.

    They do not reason as you and I do. Therefore, the "intended" idea may not be what you actually input.
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    Sep 24 2012: definitely support the comments re critical thinking, to which I would add skills and techniques for maintaining resilience, tenacity and understanding your own unique values and self worth. In particular I think we dont allow space to understand the concept that there is no failure, only feedback. If you follow this principle it encourages learning by experimentation and curiosity which supports creative innovative thinking and children who are not limited by the fear of getting things wrong, but learn from what doesn't work to get better results next time.
  • Sep 22 2012: Most certainly the most important thing which needs to be taught but which is not is critical thinking. Critical thinking should not simply be taught, but should be the entire basis for every single course taught. Research has shown it to be radically effective not only at teaching, but at keeping people engaged and interested in learning. See the documentary "High School" by Wiseman for a stunning example of how amazingly successful this approach is. It is nearly abusive that we do not teach every single topic in a framework of critical thinking. He also made another documentary called "High School 2" which shows a 'regular' school where the students are broken, perform poorly, have all excitement and interest ground out of them and confident adolescents are crushed into soulless accountants.

    I do think that Sex Ed should be a year-long course which covers the whole of human sexuality, from its history and sociology through the biological aspects, on to the psychological and social aspects - which things are the way they are purely because society makes them that way and which are actually natural - and on through the wide variety of fetishes, the role of sex in different types of relationships, the fluidity of sexual orientation, and the nature of sex as a basic bodily function.
  • Sep 21 2012: I love the conversation, but think the question itself is somewhat biased, by assuming that schools job is to teach us, when I believe it should be there to prepare us. And I think the best way to prepare someone to live in this world is to get them excited about learning. With information and knowledge available to all on the internet, the answers are out there, the trick is to get children to start asking the questions.

    As Plutarch said, "The mind is not a vat to be filled, but a fire to be kindled."

    By lighting kids imaginations, we can get them to take responsibility for their futures. And although curiosity may not be something that can be taught, it can certainly be encouraged and nourished.

    By showing children the excitement of learning, what it can do for you, how much fun it is, etc, we can provide the children with the skills needed to take responsibility for their own learning.

    The trick is to get our teachers to be entertainers and mentors, rather than autocratic dictators ruling over their own nation of 30+ students.

    On the hand of specific knowledge though, I believe our schools should guide students towards skills that allow them to solve any problems (within reason) that may arise in their life. In the 21st century this includes programming, finances, relationships, as well as the basics of reading, writing, arithmetic and science.

    In the 22nd century that may involve piloting spaceships and using teleporters responsibly, but by nurturing curiosity and allowing the children to have some say in what they will learn I think we can trust that they will attempt to learn the skills most pertinent to their lives and their futures without too many government mandates on a general curricula.

    And I'll end with my favorite idea from Douglas Adams, that the trick is to ask the right questions, while I trust that the answers will logically follow and fall into place.
    • Sep 22 2012: Teaching people how to ask the right questions, and how to approach problems from different perspectives in order to find innovative solutions is the thing most CEOs say they wish schools would teach children. Luckily, we actually do have a great teacher for this. Videogames. Videogames are tremendously important educational tools. And I don't mean edutainment crapware. I mean the actual videogames that kids already like to play. The very act of playing a videogame of any kind is an exercise in asking the right questions in order to suss out the details and dynamics of an arbitrary system. In every one, you have to try many approaches, see what works and what doesn't, try new things to try to improve, etc. You get instant feedback, you can try things which seem stupid without humiliation or condescension, you learn how to min-max optimize often complex systems. No course in school teaches system dynamics, but almost every job in existence today involves exactly this. Either discovering how to navigate in an information system or else creating a new information system for other people to navigate.
  • Sep 21 2012: Education in the present world is mostly about job skills. Life is not mostly about a job, though it plays a big part. Life skills, child rearing, people skills, anger management, motivational skills etc., should be an essential part of education. That should help us be more complete human beings.
    • Sep 25 2012: I agree. If school system is to prepare children to live freely and responsibly, it needs to concentrate on what makes humans humans, and not just what makes humans functional biomachines to fit the economy.

      Teaching skills like listening to others and to oneself, caring, being curious, defining what's important, decision-making and searching for answers would be great. But these are more abstract skills.

      Among non-abstract ecology studies, physical and mental health, nutrition, social skills seem quite valuable.
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    Sep 21 2012: Too Much abstract, not enough practical application. School wasn't designed for us to create. It was designed for us to be good employees.
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    Sep 20 2012: Programming/Software developement
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      Sep 20 2012: They should really make this into a core subject.
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    Jeff L 10+

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    Sep 18 2012: We need to start teaching kids how to learn. Not just what to learn, but how to learn it. Are they top down or bottom up learners? Do they understand different techniques that allow them to better retain information. Can they recognize different teaching style and what it takes for them to have success within those approaches. Do they know how to learn, or better yet how they learn. It took until my 2nd semester in college and a very smart tenured prof. to prompt myself and many other classmates to research our natural learning inclinations. It changed my educational experience forever. We need to start this process a lot earlier. College is really to late.
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        Sep 19 2012: You make some great points, but I believe knowing how to learn sets one up for a life of possibilities. It's take the frustration out of education and gives one the tools to keep from being pigeon holed in life. It give one a better sense of their strengths and weaknesses.

        More importantly it keeps people from living these compartmentalized lives where they think they can only be good at one thing. Physicians can't build their own decks or patios, Athlete can't be great scientist or write novels, poets can't be mathematicians. Knowing how to learn allows for fewer cross genre obstacles in learning. People are just more likely to be venturesome in an educational sense.
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    Sep 18 2012: There is no such thing as an adult. In ten years... these idiots are just going to be older. In the words of Joe Rogan "Suddenly, one day, the kid behind the register calls you sir... and all of a sudden you're just like "What? This is it? This is what we're all doing? This is adulthood? We're all just wandering around clueless staring up at shit?"
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    Sep 18 2012: there is a lot of talk about teaching creativity and entrepreneurialism and i don't believe they can be taught (in the way we think of when we think of school).

    those people that are good at those things probably switched off in school and learnt all about them in the school of hard knocks.

    for me, i wish they had taught that you only have to go to school cos they make you.

    experience beats education every time. hands down.
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      Sep 18 2012: I think experiential learning; like dry runs for life in game form, as a schooling model would be awesome!
  • Sep 18 2012: The awareness of the shortcomings of school education curriculum system.
    What schools teach us is all designed according to their plan.
    They refuse to admit the way they teach students could be wrong.
    (Besides they're not fond of students with defiant attitude to their education system for sure.)
    • Sep 18 2012: Agreed. Each year of classes should start with a simple introduction that includes pointing out the limitations of the school system, the limited curriculum, and the simple fact that our education system has no scientific basis. I am all for local school boards having a good deal of control over local schools. This is has both positive and negative aspects. We should at least inform the children that we are aware that this system is far from perfect. Tell them that when they graduate, they will be prepared for very little that life can throw at them.
      • Sep 19 2012: "We should at least inform the children that we are aware that this system is far from perfect. Tell them that when they graduate, they will be prepared for very little that life can throw at them. "
        That is so true. Seems like schools have been requiring students to be obedient to authorized people or system from the very beginning. Schools don't teach us what the reality is. And when we find out what is like to survive in this world, we think we've been missing somthing important so far, but can't figure it out until we realize it was all because of our passive attitude--we've been so dependent on schools education system.

        I especially hate the things schools try to indoctrinate to children. Schools should be the very place where open debate and endless inquiries are encouraged.
  • Sep 18 2012: Negotiation skills.
  • Oct 1 2012: General principals within Cognitve Behavior Therapy as applied to aid recovery from trama:

    Also would be interested in teaching processes that identify and utilise the various methods of engaging with people:

    And to teach about (and make active use of - during teamworking) the various personality archetypes and how they clash and co-operate:

    Would also have been good to understand how to practice many other life lessons in retrospective, but hey that's life!
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    Oct 1 2012: Here is the answer - Super Fast track Education - specifically designed to fill in the gaps left by poor education systems (and I include in this nearly all westernised education even including higher/degree level - I have 3 kids been through it!)

    It just needs funding - the course is derived from 'life experience' and will work - just 18 days to re-invent any normal 17 to 22 year old.

    For the Student

    We take you on a journey of discovery. A journey that starts with yourself and ends with yourself gaining a new vision of the real world. Your virtual journey is hard and long and it takes you to many places, visiting many different organisations across the world, including large and small business, desert islands and peoples of different cultures. The going is tough but you persevere and you discover what makes these people and organisations work. You seek and discover the fundamental issues behind mans eternal adventure. You travel through Baltimore and reach out to the cosmos, after all, you are just a child of the universe and you are discovering new ways of thinking for yourself. As your journey nears its end, your last quest is especially long and hard, but eventually, although tired, you are elated, you have reached the summit of your climb. You realise that from this journey’s end your horizons have changed, and from this new vantage point you can see a great distance all around. You look again at the world and with new eyes and you see the world as it really is. You see clearly the paths to new horizons and new lands awaiting your discovery. Your strength is renewed, you are ready to take your first step along your own life-long journey. ... see the website for exactly how it works.

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    Oct 1 2012: One of the first responsibilty of a committed learner is to make sure that he or she does not depend solely on the school curriculum and teachers for education.
    Education is meant to bring the vastness of knowledge to our awareness. So that we start from what we've been taught in the schools and then proceed to what we need to know to achieve our personal goals and visions.

    No matter how good the instructions are in schools, real life will always be a different ball game; and you really learn about the approach that works for you (in your career) in real-life situations.
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    . . 100+

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    Oct 1 2012: Teamwork.
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    Oct 1 2012: wow, not a common thing for a teacher to react like that, that kid is probably a doodler, needing to do something else to concentrate. I've doodled all my school years. And reminds me of Capra's great scene in Mr Deeds goes to town

    PS: Of course I wear the t-shirt! :-)
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      Oct 1 2012: The kid was / is brilliant and doodling totally helped him. Others tried the same afterward, and I gave them all a chance, but not many could prove that they had multi-foci with doodling. Anyway, I tried to keep it under 10 minutes at a time, in the first place, my yapping.
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    Oct 1 2012: Hi Geneviève,
    + 1 for Sex Ed. I've made myself a t-shirt saying "I went 18 years to school and never learned anything about sex". It is an important element in one's life, why do we have to learn it by ourselves, why is such a taboo? The first time I had sex I was clueless.
    - Collaborative achievement (vs Individual performance). Unless a job doesn't involve contact with other people (but which one doesn't?), collaboration is crucial. Schools put the A students on a pedestal. That is in my book individual performance rewarded. Big mistake as once we start our professional life, success mainly depends on how you work well with others.
    - Courage. Meaning to dare. Meaning be prepared for failure, which can lead to creativity. Sir Ken Robinson's speech on creativity is a big wake up call. Courage also means that children would learn to trust themselves better, even if they are not A students, which means there is a bigger chance they will find what they love and strive to do it. How many people are unhappy in their jobs because it is not a calling but only a way to put bread on the table? I know this very well because I've been in this situation.

    Good question :-)
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      Oct 1 2012: Do you wear this shirt out? Lol!

      I totally agree about the courage part. The whole staying in the box, colouring within the lines is a strange rule that comes about in teacher-directed classrooms, where not doing what the teacher says becomes an infraction. I think this is what discourages creative, lateral thinking.

      Lots of times, listening to some instructions is just practical. But teachers shouldn't feel so insecure about their students' respect for them. Once, a student was sketching a bridge on his giant art pad, while I was explaining something completely unrelated and I took and held the pad away from him and asked him to tell me two things I said in the last 5 minutes. He did, with thoughtful, paraphrasing. I immediately returned the pad to him and said, "OK, continue, then!" That taught me :)
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    Oct 1 2012: Reading back on the conversation's question, I see that I've basically complained that it's "too late" to have picked this stuff up in adulthood. Just to clarify, I am totally grateful to have learned anything at all, of course. And I suppose there is no guarantee that had there been a policy to teach The Most Important Things, that would've saved me (or us? or anyone?) from still having to cobble out our own path ourselves anyway. The school of Hard Knocks doesn't allow for dropouts...

    In all cases, TED and these conversations have helped a load in applying the smarts that were(n't) there to begin with! :)

    Once for a journal piece, I dug into why the most successful school models around the world were the way they were. These were measured by local, national and international standards. Admin from all over the world studied these models; the Gates Foundation consulted with them etc. Despite huge differences in culture, $ per pupil spent, private or public, which courses were taught, level of snazzy technology, amount of extra-curricular offered etc. the bottom line for the most successful schools and students was that they had seriously caring, qualified, talented, aware and inexhaustible activist teachers; teachers trained and impassioned enough to understand how to steer and tweak a curriculum to challenge and prepare students for life. The top system, for example, according to PISA, is Finland, where every teacher has a Master's degree, undergoes 5 years of training (in Canada it's 1); few classrooms use technology beyond blackboards; few schools have prom or extra curricular things; they don't have standardized tests. In their economy, upward mobility is still a reality for every upcoming generation.

    Also: alcoholism and suicide among teachers are the highest there. Like the end of a love story...:/