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: While I understand the "environment to learn and experience" aspect -- which is where my idea of merging community centers and schools and turning them into learning hubs is focusing too -- I find that the opportunity to learn skills like learning to follow directions or socializing with adults can be found elsewhere too and is not unique to schools. As a matter of fact, in a rural environment or the traditional indigenous cultures, these skills are acquired without any plan or curriculum as the nature of the interactions in those societies provides for daily opportunities to learn those skills.

    One thing that is offered by learning environments that work and seem to be lacking from the school setting is the opportunity for the learner to immerse in the experience. As long as the kids are split by age and the curriculum controlled by the teacher or some far removed bureaucracy, the schools will only provide false sense of immersiveness -- as one French teacher described to me the environment inside the French Immersion schools here in Canada. (sadly, my own daughter is in one such environment, which is a point of pain for me, but that is a different story!)

    What the teacher meant by the false environment is that in her classroom, she is the only one that is constantly using French and is motivated (or at least incentivized) to keep on doing that as a way to offer the experience to the kids. The kids find it very easy to slip back to English, since once they're outside the classroom, they have no reason to keep speaking French.

    CONTINUES ... (2 or 3)

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