TED Conversations

Goran Kimovski

Senior Technology Consultant, OperatingDev.com


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What is the true value (if any) of organized schooling?

There are so many people suggesting that schools kill creativity, learning is innate & children can learn by themselves, no real life skills are acquired in the current school system, etc. -- the list is really long! If this is all true and we all agree that organized schooling needs big reform, I think we have to step back and ask the ultimate question about the value of organized schooling!

I make a distinction between learning, education and schooling -- with schooling being an attempt to govern/institutionalize education and education representing formalized learning. I think this is important as often people refer to school as the only place where education happens, ignoring programs like the Khan Academy or not to mention the millions of homeschoolers in US alone. They also confuse education with learning, but Sugata Mitra's child-driven education shows that the learning that happens when kids are given tools and left on their own devices is neither formal, nor it can be governed. (He uses the term education tad wrongly, though I suppose with purpose as his is an example of bringing learning and education together.)

I would like to challenge the TED community to think about the value of their own schooling or the value their kids currently in the school system are getting and share their thoughts here!


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    Mar 21 2011: I am overwhelmed by all the responses and I would like to thank everyone for contributing their thoughts so far! I find this topic of immense importance not just to me but to every parent and educator I had a chance to talk with as I am working to organize TEDxKids@BC. Understanding the value of schooling and education is one of the goals for the conference as we're trying to bring speakers together that have experienced learning in various ways and are applying their passion and skills in doing inspiring work or pushing forward some amazing ideas. The three things we all try to understand are:

    - What makes us the authentic selves we all seem to show when not inhibited by social pressures or need to comply?
    - Do we become those authentic selves as we grow up or we've always had them with us and what we really learn is when to be someone else?
    - If the current schooling system teaches us how to comply and keep the authentic selves in a hidden place, can schooling and education ever be positive forces that nurture our propensity to be curious about the world, wishing to discover it for ourselves, create new value through our passions, and maybe even change it!?

    I agree with many of the comments why the current system doesn't provide enough value or on the contrary does more damage instead. However, my interest is not in finding the flaws, but finding if the concept of "learning in an institution whose goal is teaching" has any value in it at all.

    One underlying theme I can see bubbling up from many comments is that schools provide an environment where the kids can learn and experience stuff they ordinarily have no chance to in other places. Some of the learnings called out seem to include how to follow directions, meet deadlines, work in groups. On top, some of you suggested that we need schools for the socialization aspect, in particular the opportunity to interact with adults outside the family circle.

    CONTINUES ... (1 of 3)

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