TED Conversations

Tao P
  • Tao P
  • Vancouver B.c
  • Canada

TEDCRED 50+

This conversation is closed.

If the state is so bad at raising children, how come we allow the state to educate our children?

It's obvious that our educational system is broken, but who is willing to take action to create a new system? Much of learning can be broken down into how much attention does a child get. In a classroom that's almost nil, as a teachers time is spread between 30 students. Studies also clearly show that grading children has a detrimental effect on them. So why do we continue this waste of resources that is also a waste of our children's potential.

What is an alternative to the current method of education. Is there a way to light the fire of children's curiosity rather than smothering it with facts.

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    Nov 2 2012: I think that ultimately, when the poor are fully under control of the ruling groups or corporations non of this will be a problem anymore. Education will be for the ruling populace and the rest will be served enough to keep them under control.

    Of course this could go the other way and the ruled could use the internet to get educated and upset the plans of the ruling parties. It appears it is spreading in this direction. I'm taking courses at an online college and learning much.

    We waste resources because they are unregulated. It's really that simple. When resources become rare, we regulated them and decide who gets what and how much, with the rulers getting the highest share. It has away been that way.

    We must bear in mind that money takes second place to power and control. With an educated population all the rulers have to do to put them under control is to shrink the money supply, which is what we are going through now. It is a fact that it is easier to control an educated population, provided you keep the educational process in two lots. The highest quality for the rulers children and the lowest for the rest. This is how the University system works and it appears that online education is following suit.

    As technology takes control of our living environment, we can expect to see the population cut up into segments of haves and have not's, educated vs non-educated. The people will follow the jobs and that is the carrot that will be used to separate everyone into controllable groups. It is happening today.

    Bear in mind, just because you are highly educated does not mean you are not a slave to some rulere(s). They just keep you in a more gilded cage. Not all Geniuses are born into the families of the ruling class.
    Today, the smart children are sorted out, cataloged and followed throughout their lives. Opportunity is used to draw them out from their families and put them to work.
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      Tao P 50+

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      Nov 2 2012: THat's a bit pessimistic. It's also a loose argument: 'it's a fact that controlling an educated public is easier'. According to whom? I'd wager it is far easier to control an ignorant people than an educated one. Anyways, my post is about thinking about better styles of education, not spreading worry with tangents of anxiety.
      • Nov 2 2012: Tao, this entirely depends on what the populace has been educated about. One can educate a group and very easily use this education as a tool of enslavement. If you look at the trilateral commission formed under Ford they basically said there are two types of intellectuals one that praise the system and ones that are, lets say, more value oriented. They went on to say that the value oriented intellectuals must be shunned so as to inhibit "the crisis of democracy" while the former must be held up because of the extremely important role they play in the indoctrination of the young and maintenance of societal function.

        I concur with Johns statement it is far easier to control an educated populace when the education is mean to serve the master. Sometimes education can fool you into believing things you already know to be false....

        In the communist manifesto Marx claimed that state education was needed so as to protect the children from being molded into sycophants to the ruling class. I think this is true and what we now see with all the hype about the teachers unions is really just a ploy to get in there and teach the children "what they should be learning". This is not to say that government in and of itself cant become a ruling class it can and has. The point I am attempting to make is that "spreading worry" based in truism should be an obligation to anyone who cares about his fellow man.

        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Trilateral_Commission
        http://www.chomsky.info/books/priorities01.htm
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          Tao P 50+

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          Nov 3 2012: OK well I agree if by education you mean a system of indoctrination. The point of my starting this thread was for us to collaboratively think of better ways to educate people.

          I politely disagree that we should spread worrying truisms without, at the very least, the intention of finding solutions. I feel we should go beyond that any time we utter negative ideas and facts; we need to provide answers or the space for us to collaborate to come up with answers
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        Nov 3 2012: Pessimistic?

        It's the way the world has operated for thousands of years. I don't see any change taking place now. If it were not so we should see evidence of it. Right?

        If I am incorrect, we would see a strong, growing middle class and shrinking on the other two ends.

        Do we see this?
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          Nov 3 2012: 'It's the way the world has operated for thousands of years. I don't see any change taking place now. If it were not so we should see evidence of it. Right?'

          I believe that also to be a pessimistic, though you surely see it as realistic. Pessimism to me is stating the problems and being unable or unwilling to work towards answers. So my saying you're being pessimistic is not saying you are wrong, but I don't think you are helping us move forward. If we hope to improve the World we need to work with eachother instead of criticizing without any constructive thought.
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    Nov 3 2012: Humans constantly seek justification for their actions. The grading system we use in schools today inflect more on the teachers abilities to deliver knowledge to the children. Because, teachers are human beings with feelings like other human beings, they can only take so much inflection that their methods or abilities lead to failure. After all, most of them are college graduates and have a sense of self-value for their accomplishment. So how do they reflect this sense of failure? They push it off on the children. It becomes the children's lack of ability to learn, even when the teachers themselves are examples that the most average of person can obtain a college degree.

    So, if it is not the abilities of the children or the teachers that prevent children from enjoying and longing for knowledge, what is it?

    Could it be the method of delivery? If a ruling class cannot control a humans ability to learn they can only manipulate them through the method of delivery. By regulating the methods of delivery, they can manipulate the whole system and create a segment of the population for management and the other to be managed.

    Technology does not depend on having a ruling class or a ruled class. It moves forward with knowledge. It gets incorporated into society and is used by society to regulated and expand itself. As such, it is not ruling class or ruled class dependent. But, it does impact how rulers will will rule. If by using computers a people can get ride of their managers, the need for middle class management society declines. If by using technology, the ruled can exploit the resources themselves without guidance from the ruling class, the need for a ruling class declines.

    This experiment in computer guided learning is being carried on right now all over the internet. I am a participant. I recommend everyone get involved. It's bad for teachers but good for society. Technocracy is the future.
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    Oct 29 2012: The state would not be able to do the things you should do for your kids as a parent because the state does not have that intimacy that you are expected to have with your child.
    But the home is the place where a child is introduced into the society. There, a child learns the basics of human relationships by observing the parents, who are meant to be the first examples and mentors.
    So, there are things that the state can not do for your child because of its nature and constitution; and there are things a child can only get from the state. This is a case of mutual responsibility. Wisdom is profitable to lead.
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    Oct 29 2012: We make the mistake that children can be educated - as if it's some kind of active thing we do to them.

    This is the outlook of a sociopath. Chidren are not "educated", they get interested and learn for themselves.
    A true education consists of getting out of the kid's way and supporting the kid's progress.

    The alternative is so dumb-simple that we miss it in our arrogance.
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        Nov 1 2012: Hi Don,

        You will see in my other writings on this subject some of the things you have demonstrated to me. Namely, the decline of the value of our elders and the emergence of sociopathic attitudes.
        The rise of dominance has invaded our world views to such an extent that we discard good fruit for an abhorence of blemish.
        This abhorence pervades our attitude towards risk such that the middle-risk path of a healthy life has polarised to the acceptance of tiny risks and cataclysmic risks with nothing in between but the coins on the tables of the money changers.
        Such that we dominate our children "for their own good" a good that is illusion - a good predominantly dictated by the violation that has its epicentre in the psychopath.
        Had I not seen for my own eyes the fallacy of the world view I was raised in, I would be just as everyone else - polarised and ignorant.
        It is plain to me as the nose on my face - children teach themselves - the true dynamic of education is to answer the natural questions of children to our best ability. To follow thir exploration, to clear the way for them and to stop demonising them with notions of original sin or burdening them with our own irational fears.
        It's all upside-down - the children teach the parents, not the other way round.
        Since I came to that realisation, my own child has taught me more than 1/4 of my lifetime spent in the sadistic purgatory of schools.
        I understand the ignorance of the victimised mass, but I can no longer walk in their paths.
        And if anyone cares to take the veil off their faces, they might find a better way.
        If I can help in that process. I will.
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        Nov 1 2012: Hi Don,

        The supporting environment is essential. Particularly the loving part.
        This is something only a parent can truly provide.
        There are some teachers who are very supportive and loving, however, the modern school paradigm is not supportive or loving of them - and they have a difficult time.

        I have framed my statements to attack the notion of education being the "filling of an empty cup" - which assumes that a child is a passive object to be "sculpted" .. well, perhaps a rock can feel no pain being turned into the statue of David with hammers and chisels, but it's violence when you do it to a kid. My loving but deluded father would say "as the twig is bent so groweth the tree" and used that as an excuse to screw-up me and my siblings .. the quote is true, but who would deliberately bend a twig? He was perverted by the old biblical disaster "spare the rod and spoil the child". As were many - many are still being poisoned by this lie.

        The state just wants people in "Jarbs" - listen to Obama and Romney - Mum and Dad - all in Jarbs, peddling their lifes-time, their precious minutes at 10 cents in the dollar to strangers who care nothing for the deficit in the child's nurture.
        Jarbs and Money - tokens of slavery - paid for by the poverty of our children.
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        Nov 2 2012: Hi Don,

        As I mentioned elsewhere, my arrival at my current world view was a process of observing the fallicy that underpinned what I had been taught and what my father had been taught. The violations.
        I have observed elsewhere the mechanics of how violation is passed from generation to generation through assumptions that arrose in psychopathic violations. This is thousands of years old - pre-dating the old testament of the Jews, reflected in their doctrine and compounded by the Roman nationalisation of Paul's christianity that sought to correct and heal the damage.
        IF Paul was teh pharisee of pharisees, Constantine was the psychopath of psychopaths.We all work within the frameworks established by our forebares - the opposite of love is not hate - it is harm, and we are all damaged. The psychopath has no love, the sociopath has love, but it is constrained by the generational injury of violation. My father was a loving man straining through the bars of his pain for that love to find voice. As are we all.
        I nominate institutionalised "education" as a vector of the ancient harm. I have observed it with my own eyes, and I invite others to embark on the journey beyond the aprobation of accepted dogma and go see for themselves.

        Best regards

        Mitch
        (edit: the flute does not require learning - just playing .. it is a thing of breath)
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        Nov 2 2012: Well .. The picture is one of sea and land.
        Our parents, siblings and friends trace out the shorline and say of the sea: "here be monsters".
        But when you abandon fear or get thrown into it, you find only land underfoot - where everyone insisted otherwise. This is the true "walking on water".
        Perhapse there are unknown monsters lurking in the deep, but can they be worse than the ones pointing to false shorelines to keep your back permanently against the wall?

        When I was 2 years old, I remember seeng that my father could become a flat thing across which were painted slogans - dead things against which no living truth could pass. This was a sad thing for a 2-year-old .. and that's why I remember it .. the sadness for my father - I could see that his love was just as harmed as mine.
        He wasn't perpetuially so, and before his death, had learned to climb down from his plackard .. mostly.
        (edit: there is only one book worth reading - it si the unfolding story of your own life .. something that is best read out loud ;)
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        Nov 2 2012: I have a very good picture of the puzzle concerning abuse.
        It resides fair and square in the centre of competition.
        Competition is required in the face of scarcity.
        Where is this scarcity?
        The dynamic that leads to the abuse you are experiencing is exactly the same dynamic that results in women being paid less, and children not at all.
        It is called the "tangible benefit". It occurs in cost/benefit statements that drive the whole competitive paradigm.
        The value of elders undergoes a transition from tangible to intangible - they are not reliable as tangible value units because they become frail and cannot turn up to their jarb on a tangibly reliable basis according to the defined hours of work. Similarly, women get pregnant at inconvenient times and children have not got the skills or strength required for the bottom line.
        in short, these social subsets have no tangible value and are treated accordingly.
        These things are obvious to all entities involved in competition - corporations, governments and legislative bodies.
        You are expelled to the world of the intangible.
        A place where the value is litterally incalculable.
        That sounds like a nice place to be.
        I am please to see you are embracing it.
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        Nov 3 2012: With the flute - Each note has a character. Each character tells a story in the company of the other characters - together they make a community we call a "tune".
        A tune starts in the heart of a player. others may copy, but it is their own breath that gives it life.
        Tradition is a process of giving life to something worth living.
        No one is precluded from this - the tune can start with you - you only need play it.
        After a while, you will know where to find the notes that others play - then you can copy them if it's worth doing.
        Here is a chart of where the usual notes are:
        http://www.moceltic.org/docs/whistle_chart.html
        But I have to say - there is no limit, and the finger combinations are not set in stone - I use few of these combinations when I play these days.
        The early tunes you find for yourself will be the most haunting and heart-felt.
        These simple flutes are present in every culture and are often made and played by shepherds who have no access to tuition - just time watching the sheep. Many of their tunes have entered the traditions.
        http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Pxm_76uR-gA

        What we see as greatness in others is present in us all. The measure of greatness is to find, inside, a light to help others find the same light within them - then all are great. Oddly, the more of this light you find in yourself, the better you are at seeing it in others.
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        Nov 4 2012: Institutions have abuse as part of their dynamic.

        The original purpose of the instituion becomes lost as the people within it serve their own agendas by exploiting flaws in the constitution/mission statement.

        Organisations fail by design. They eventually collapse - this can be observed in corporations.
        Corporations are generally allowed to die - however, government created institutions are not.

        Government makes the mistake that a functional institution will remain relevant to the community forever. This is not the case. If a sub-community(insitution) is formed without a specific single goal, it will atrophy into a tribe-unit with abuse as the resulting dynamic.

        Ashly Smith clearly manifests the symptoms of bipolar disorder. There are very effective drug treatments for this - if prescribed by an adequately skilled psychiatrist. Unfortunately, such skill is rare. The neuroscience fields are advancing rapidly - one would hope that such skills will become more common.
        The answer to harm is healing.
        The world's attention must be drawn to this truth if we are to survive the next few decades.
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        Nov 4 2012: hi Don,

        i am more interested in root physical causes than the extrapolation of those causes into philosophy.
        Philosphy is a powerful tool for awareness, byt it must find dround in reality.
        I do not condone the bending of twigs in any way shape or form (propaganda).
        Dr Penfield exhibits the right motives, but shows an ignorance of the root causality.
        Instead of the word "propaganda" - his hypothesis would be better served by the word "nurture".
        We must be careful to recognise violation in the language we use. Upon detection it falsifies everything we say - ubnless we are talking about violence.
        If violence is appropriate, then I propose that it should be turned against the enemy - not his victims.
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        Nov 4 2012: Hi Don,

        It is pleasing to interact with someone not afraid to "keep me on my toes"!
        Many thanks!

        Logical intelligence is forever relative - and never absolute. But it is the medium by which we progress.

        The family. To replace the fundamental power and value of the family os tp sit on a branch and cut it off behind you.
        Any definition of a "sea of society" must build on the power of family - otherwise will fail. If this sea of society does not resemble the family it will fail.

        But I must point out, that humans are far more than family - at the least we are tribal. Wolf packs are family. Lion prides are family ... most pure family groups seem to be carnivourous predators. Many mamals are community creatures .. why should we be less than cattle?

        And what then of the adoptee?

        Please do not confuse philosophy with logic. The words and musings of philospohy trail along like a cowered dog for scraps from teh scientist's table, and yet, the scientist takes scaps from the philospher - to chew the truth from them - a meagre meal, but at least, somewhere to start.

        It must be demonstrated - repeatable and open to falsification. Or it is rubbish.

        These philosophers that take up ideas that just seem good to them. By all means - try them out, but be willing to admit failure.



        You know I hav extensive experience with bipolar people. THey have enormous potential - but it requires willing and loving support as well as highly skilled treatment to gain a net positive fom their swinging nightmare. It is not a task lightly taken - and one that should be abandonned quickly if the loving support is not enough.



        Is it now your life's work to take a chunk out of the legal abuse dragon?
        An honourable work!

        Best regards

        Mitch
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        Nov 6 2012: Hi Don,

        YOu might like this:

        http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Tf-lDPXVW9I&list=PL028DC9EAF2233E4B&index=14

        I recognise that there are some more experienced thinkers than us, but I don't accept that they are better.

        And I have almost nil respect for experience - I have known people who have 40 years of experience * of the same day over and over agian! * people who think I'm crazy for seeking a new day every day.
        Better than us?
        Not likely.
        Is there room for improvement?
        Definitlely - till our last breath - it should be as sweet as the first.
        Can we learn from the 1-day-for-40-years guy?
        Yes - he knows more about that day than anyone - but don't take his advice on any other day.
        Who is most expert at living your life?
        You are.
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        Nov 7 2012: Hi Don,

        This is a 2 hour debate.
        I have to remind you that I spent 8 years intensively investigating faiths of all types - in person.
        I developed a technique of attracting proseltysers - including a method of walking - guaranteed, you walk like that and it will attract every proselytiser for a city block ;)
        Following that 8 years, I have maintained an active attention to all things faith and spiritually based.
        It is a measure of respect for you and in the name of open mindedness that I will subject myself to this 2 hours yet again.

        OK - listened to it, .. all I can say is: "forgive the creationists lord, for they know not what they do."
        Nice workout for the amygdala ;)


        Hey BTW - I have growing evidence that the Sun has the equivalent of neural network learning expressed in electro magnetic causality! This makes it a brain with many orders of magnitude greater than a human brain!

        Would you like to join my Ra-Worship congregation?
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        Nov 7 2012: Yes, both the guys in your link would be cut to shreds by a Jewish Rabbi - who would already know the problems with applying the general to the specific - which is laced through both the debaters' arguements.
        Also, I note that Craig attempted to hyjack the questioners's amygdala as a secret attack on her. This is not the actions of someone who is confident of their arguement. I can only conclude that Craig is a pathological lier like most Creationists.

        Jesus was a brilliant teacher. By all reports he only ever did-his-block one time with the money changers. In all other things he taught by doing and by answering questions.

        It was clever to wrap up the message in teh resurection bottle - wasn't the first religion to do that. One can admire the intelligence in the deceit .. but you gotta open the bottle to read the mesage.
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        Nov 9 2012: Hi Don,

        Thank you for posessing (as always) a great capacity for grace!

        Here is an idea:

        Somewhere within my world view there exists a touchstone. It is the jewel of great value.
        I am not always able to touch it, but when i do, it tells me, without words, whether a thing in my perception is a truth or not. It does not tell me why.

        I perceive that you also posess this jewel.

        Our work is to share this jewel.
        This is the only work, and we each given a path that is defined by it.

        My touchstone tells me that Creationism is untrue. It does not tell me why, but I perceive that it is not the principle that is in error - it is the translation into false motives that betrays the Creationist.

        Through these discussions and the test of my touchstone, I have now perfected a definition of morality that has been missing for quite a while. It describes how creationism is the result of some Christians abandoning god for money. I can only presume that they do not have the touchstone, or have not found their way to it.
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    Oct 26 2012: As has been said by better minds than mine, sometimes, when we change the way we look at things the things we see will change. The premise of this conversation begins on a very shaky foundation, in my view. you say it is obvious that our educational system is broken. You also posit that the state is so bad at raising children. Yet the speaker in this video tells his story of being raised by the state and he hasn't turned out any worse than so many of us who grew up in the Norman Rockwell family. Is it luck, in spite of the rearing, that he found his calling as a poet? Or did his preparation, however challenging and horrid in the telling, actually rear him for this TED exposure? He suggests that we know the answer and that the story of his life is actually the lifeblood of his success, however we or he defines that. Education is a primer not a career. it sets our sails to mine the winds of success but it does not blow the winds. at every echelon of development, the definition of "Education" shifts its shape. Education is merely a preparatory intervention -- it is not the enlightenment, but the access to enlightenment. Every road of learning CAN lead to this access but not every road will. Lemn Sissay has given us a remarkable insight into how the story of our lives can propel us or impale us. but what determines which? It is clear that many people in all careers, princes as well as paupers, priests as well as plunderers, can and do soar as well as sour. This conversation speaks of education as if the expectation "should be" that our systems prepare everyone equally well for success. But this clearly cannot be the expectation of reasonable people just as Lemn has shown. "Where you sit" some one said, "often depends on where you stand" . I think this is the most operative lesson of this most magnificent talk. Kudos Lemn - but this conversation leads us, I fear, away from that most powerful revelation dramatically unveiled by this remarkable "child of the state".
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      Tao P 50+

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      Oct 28 2012: I think Lemn's story is more a testament to the resilience of the human spirit, rather than one to the unimportance of the environment in which one is raised. I believe that our educational system is broken, and by broken I mean that it is not offering a stimulating environment for the majority of children. How many kids with ADD can focus on a video game? If their interests can be stimulated by a meaningful learning environment than I believe we wouldn't have as many 'disordered children'. It is not the kids, but the system we are trying to fit them into that is disordered.
      I agree that the educational system is a primer, but my view is that it is quite a poor one. I am asking how can we ensure that children know how to rig their own sails, before they are put to sea?
  • Nov 7 2012: I agree that State education can be a progressive force, although it has the potential to be the opposite. I was more-or-less obliged (due to unusual circumstances) to educate my daughter at home for 2 years. As an educator, I did not find this difficult. However, my impression from researching homeschooling in general, which I did at the time, was the the majority of those who home-school their children are fools who were doing their children a great disservice.
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    Nov 6 2012: The education system where I live could be better, but it could also be worse. I, for one, am very grateful for the public education that was available to me in Canada (BC in fact). That was some time ago now and I imagine in this time of austerity the system has been constrained and is probably worse than when I went to school. Nevertheless we should be thankful for what we have.

    It is true there are alternative methods, with more individualized care, but that requires more funding and we have to be willing to actually fund the education system. I have heard many times that we need to make grand changes to how kids are educated, but when it comes time to pay up, nobody wants to pay for the taxes and most people can't afford private school for their children.

    The sad truth is school is supposed to be for education but it is in many ways it is essentially day care. The reason people don't home school more is the fact that parents simply don't have the time. Often both parents must work to get by cannot afford to leave the work force to educate their children themselves. In order to take on the huge task of education, people have to live with a lot less, and may have to give up the idea of owning their own home, or making enough money for their children's post secondary education. These can be tough decisions.
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      Nov 6 2012: Yes there are good things in the school system but I believe that for the amount of resources dedicated to that system, there's little return on the investment. I believe we can come up with a system that requires far less outside input and can contribute more to society than the glorified babysitting that is currently going on.
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        Nov 7 2012: It is hard to gauge what the return on investment is for education. How would you measure it? In the strict sense of the term, it doesn't and never will, since public education is by its nature not profitable. As far a a general sense of the benefit to society for having education, it is almost impossible to understand without growing up in a culture that does not have access to it.

        However, I do strongly disagree with your reply in one regard. The is the persistent idea floating around that the problem with education is that it isn't efficient enough. That we put so much in and don't get enough out. All we have to do is reform the system and we will be able to have wonderfully educated, mentally healthy, creative, individually catered to children. That just isn't true.

        Its no mystery what kids need. We need smaller classes, more individualized learning, special care for kids with special needs and opportunities for the gifted kids to shine. We need sports, arts, science labs, trades shops and access to technology. We need counsellors to help teens in hard times and to help fight bullying and drug addiction. All of those things take resources.

        When we strive for efficiency instead of quality in education we get all of the problems that we have. We get larger class sizes and less support for teachers. We get economy of scale, enormous schools with as few employees as possible. We get efficient quality control of education, which turns out to be standardized testing. We get cutbacks to anything that doesn't improve results on those standardized test.

        The idea that we can get more for our kids for less investment is the root of our problems in education. We need to get more for our kids with more resources.

        We simply need to give the education system the resources it deserves. It is not some bloated ineffective monster; it is a bare bones, underfunded machine that pumps out grads.

        We need to fund it properly.
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          Nov 7 2012: When I state that it takes a tremendous amount of resources to get very little results I am meaning that most of the effort is wasted. It's like trying to grow a tree by watering it every few hours, fanning it for more air and placing mirrors to give it more light. ALl that effort and you'll likely kill the tree. All the effort in education tends to kill children's curiosity, their love of learning.

          This is where I see the potential. Instead of attempting to fill children with facts, we need to actively try and spark their curiosity, their enthusiasm. This is a program that in all likely-hood will not work in a rigid bureaucratic system that relies on tests.
      • Nov 7 2012: "Yes there are good things in the school system but I believe that for the amount of resources dedicated to that system, there's little return on the investment."

        Compared to what? Other countries (that also have public schools), or private schools (that admit students selectively)? What is your reference point?
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        Nov 7 2012: Back during the recession of the 80's, schools were shutting down in some states due to lack of funding. I stopped over in a small town in New Mexico where the teachers were volunteering to keep the schools open. I let my son enter school for one week to catch up while we looked for work along our trip to Colorado. He loved it. The teachers were taking brown paper bags from charity, to use in class. They did creative things and the kids loved it, learning increased. That all changed when financial times became better and learning became more affordable. It got worse. Still, I'm sure teachers would not volunteer forever, they have to eat too. Maybe there is a fine line between adequately funded and over funded.
        • Nov 7 2012: "Maybe there is a fine line between adequately funded and over funded."

          You might be right, but I think that's primarily an American problem. On one hand you have people like "Tao P" who see it as a given that public education sucks, on the other hand you have the hysterical teacher unions who keep repeating they're underpaid, even some of my favorite progressive commentators fall for this and say things like "Finland actually pays its teachers a decent wage", while American teacher wages are comparable to European, including Finnish, teacher wages, even when you factor in PPP (this comparison is quite reliable because American teachers do get "free" health care, like all Europeans, but unlike many American employees). American schools are also ruined by parents having so much influence over them, nobody needs fat, suburban teabagging moms, with apparently nothing better to do, actively trying to get the biology teacher fired for teaching sex ed or evolution. American schools mostly need investments in equipment and science teachers (all the other teachers are already taken care of just fine) and they need to make sure the amount of money a school receives doesn't depend on the neighborhood it's in.

          @below

          "By locking them up in and forcing them to complete meanningless homework we tend to rid them of their love for learning"

          It's not "meaningless", language is very important in the business world, history is necessary to have educated voters and math and the exact sciences keep the modern world going. When I was a kid I didn't want to play or tend to a garden all day, I actually liked book learnin'.
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          Nov 7 2012: It's less about the amount of funding and more about the stifling bureaucracy in the classroom. I love Moonstroller's point about the volunteering teachers; it's not about them working for free as much as the freedom they had to do what they thought was right. We need to (re)-set up a system that trusts teachers, that respects children's ability to learn and one that aims to inspire kids over cramming them full of facts. This is why I think 'public' and private education is broken.

          My point about wasted resources is not that we pay teachers to much, it's that children are far more valuable than we are led to believe. We could set up a educational system in which children learn by setting up a community garden and running it for a year (or more). There are countless ways in which children could contribute to their communities while learning and having fun. By locking them up in and forcing them to complete meanningless homework we tend to rid them of their love for learning
  • Nov 5 2012: Here' are a few ideas that will enhance learning potential. Provide only nutritional food in the school lunch rooms. For elementary children provide adequate free time on the playground. I would suggest three recess periods per day, By the way that was common back in my childhood learning years. Teach and them examine the material taught. Allow children the freedom to ask questions outside the box of expectations. Don't teach to the test, teach to the curiosity. Challenge children to think critically and then praise them for doing it. Stop teaching as if children can't get it because they are children and teach as if they can get it because they are active learners. When speaking to children use the vocabulary that best describes what you want to say, don't dumb down your language, because too many children have underdeveloped language. Develop it. And use foreighn language in the school as a building too for their spoken language. Use music and art as a tool to learning. Don't throw these programs out because they don't fit the mold of math science and reading. Use all of the senses of a child when teaching. If you say Johnny needs to develop his listening skills, then use his other senses to reinforce his listening
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    Nov 3 2012: Tao P stated in reply to me:

    "Pessimism to me is stating the problems and being unable or unwilling to work towards answers. So my saying you're being pessimistic is not saying you are wrong, but I don't think you are helping us move forward. If we hope to improve the World we need to work with eachother instead of criticizing without any constructive thought."

    You are correct that I am pessimistic. I saw what happened to the Occupy Wall street movement. I see "opposition" to changing the status quo being successful. There in lies my pessimism.

    But I am not wrong in criticizing the status quo. It is through criticism that we can note our mistakes and discover innovation towards the path to enlightenment and successful social interaction.

    All social problems can be resolved and eradicated through the efforts of joint social activity. But we must first bring down the barriers that create social isolationism. We must create an atmosphere of togetherness.

    Technology offers an opportunity to do this but will, itself, mold us into a different sort of society if not hobbled with restraint. If that society does not incorporate a sense of togetherness, it becomes just another failed experiment towards creating a Class I civilization.

    By pointing out the problems I am not propelling us towards a platform of failure, I am pointing out why the other platforms failed.

    But Yes, pessimism is my strong inflection in discussion such as this. But you should use my pessimism to enlarge your ideas, not toss it aside. I am firmly joined to you in the desire for a better way of living together. I appreciate your desire and share in it.
  • Nov 1 2012: Hi dear TED community!
    I would like to share my experiences having studied in both sides of continent: The United States of America and Kazakhstan. I am a Kazakhstanian and graduated from a wonderful ordinary village school far away fro city and i am graduate of high school in States. I believe your point is somewhat not relevant to say that state is bad at raising our children. It is much more difficult to blame state when you have a wide range of political leaders in the World. One thing I found after studying for 10 years in my village school in Kazakhstan, I got a scholarship from and went to usa to get my education. I convinced my academic adviser to put me in to 12 grade to graduate and I did graduate with high GPA.
    What I want to point here is not my success but rather what is the motivation of some students! Many of people who complain that school is bad, do not even consider what is their child's motivation is. Most of people, even my host parents did not have to talk to my host brothers. I believe it is very bad for them, when they have better conditions of classroom than some other school in India or China do. I believe that most of the people do not value what they have and that is why they spend their time for nothing, do not ask. The other thing is social websites are the worst enemies of students because children tend to what their peers do and cannot go back because now everybody knows it. I believe children need to get an experience to study in poor or highly motivated high worker students schools. Or let your children study in a ordinary highly motivated Singapore or India schools then see the results. I have a lot of American, Canadian, British friends who actually got experience of studying in Southern Asian schools and they say they were blessed to open their eyes and value what they have!!!
    Do not blame others but ask from yourself do you knwo what is your children's notivation is?
    Did you ask who they going to be in near future?
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    Oct 29 2012: Many things to address here. Can the state educate .. yes. However, historically the government is the least efficient means to do anything.

    To see this lets look at the agencies. Fed ED: 5,000 empolyees, Budget 96.8 Billion PURPOSE: to establish policy. I do not know of a corporation in the world that has a section designated to establish policy. A policy is typically described as a principle or rule to guide decisions and achieve rational outcomes. In most cases it is a statement. So Arne Duncan has 5,000 people writing this sentence. Thats $19,200,000 per person to make this sentence the goodest it are.

    I just took Arizona Educational Budget as an example. Over 6 Billion spent on education. (No breakdown or dept staff size available). STUDENTS: Estimate 1,000,000 students ... the reason it is an estimate is because we have a ebb and flow of illegal aliens that migrate from school to school and state to state that use our education, welfare, and health services while not contributing to the effort. The federal government allows this and establishes things like the Dream Act which comes from this guess at requirements budget. All while in violation of federal law. Also this is raw and no fed grants or allocations are added. This total students including Charter, college, home schooled, etc .... On the Arizona Dept of ED web the latest data is 1996. Showing Linda Keegan as State Super. Had 6 since.

    If any of us wrote check, kept books and records like the state and Fed do we would be housed in prison so far back sunlight could not reach us.

    Could a group of 10 families take the 8K per child and teach them better ... no doubt it would be a better use of $80,000 with money left over and great results. Charters do it cheaper and better.

    Anytime you let the government and unions do it .... it becomes a money pit .. with questionable results.

    This is only slide # 1 .... many more issues.

    All the best. Bob.
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    Tao P 50+

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    Oct 29 2012: I'm not making a push for private education. I think there can be a form of community based education, kinda like a home-schooling 2.0 approach. It would likely be far cheaper and more effective at inspiring childrens love of learning.
    I think you missed my point regarding french. I was told that I had a learning disability regarding languages when in fact I simply had a lazy, or perhaps ignorant, teacher. I like the idea of Summerhill school, a place where you let children choose what they wish to learn about.
    • Oct 29 2012: You seem to be pushing for community based teaching, the thing is that after a while that really becomes indistinguishable from state schooling, since that is, in essence, nothing more than community based teaching with the inevitable bureaucracy and standards that you would have to introduce as soon as two parents in the "community" disagreed on something related to the teaching.
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          Nov 1 2012: Good morning Don, how are you today ? Been posting on another conversation about the power of branding. You can always click on my icon to see what I have been chatting about. Like your arguement about educating within a community. Educating a child not just in formal education but in what they see around them and how loved and secure they feel. Just because people less materially resourced does not mean less opportunities for holistic education. Learned loads from playing on beach and local Botanical Gardens. Learned loads from playing with water in the sink and playing with sand in the sandpit (good for physics especially) learned loads from painting and drawing and writing. Unfortunately also learned loads from dysfunctional parents and intergenerational conflicts. Neural pathways very different to many others and unfortunately also very similar. Still support your ideas of an inclusive community and also unfortunately the need to protect children's space to just be children. (like the UN resolution about a child's right to play).
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    Tao P 50+

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    Oct 27 2012: I do know these things, with the exception of French. I moved from LA to Vancouver when I was 9 and was behind my class in French. My teacher convinced me that I had a language learning disability. I didn't try for another language until I was in Argentina and noticed I picked up Spanish with ease. This is one of the problems with the education system. I picked up math very early on and my math classes were sheer boredom. Obviously I don't feel that I gained much from all the time spent in class.

    State education is not free. It is quite expensive considering what we get out of it, though since everyone pays for it in taxes few realize the actual cost. The average cost in N. Carolina is $9,800 per year for K-12, not far off from private schools, though that is not what I am advocating. I think it is important to come up with a new method of education, one that is more child centered, as opposed to fact centered. I think it would be ideal to have members of the community teaching children in various tasks, and making their classes, especially the sciences, applicable in 'the real world'. I think it is entirely possible to create a new system; one that requires less and is far more productive. There are millions of children in school, hand-cuffed with busywork and boredom, who would love to do something meaningful.
    • Oct 27 2012: My wife and I have chosen to homeschool our children. We have adopted five from Ethiopia and have decided that it is in the best interest of some of my adopted children to enroll them in public school, but we homeschool the rest of them. Homeschooling is a great alternative to public education if the parents are willing to accept the responsibilities of it. It is a lot of work, but my kids get that individual attention that facilitates their academic development. And really, I think that's much of what education needs to be. Yes, they need to know certain facts about the world they live in and develop a skill set in math, science, and writing, but training them on how to acquire knowledge on their own in this information age, and letting them take ownership of their own education will set them up for success in every way.

      Homeschooling is becoming more popular in the US and Canada, and many parents are engaging in social structures of homeschoolers with co-ops and parent-led activities that eliminate the isolation once deemed so problematic. Outstanding curriculum is widely available as well as online courses for those subjects in which parents are limited in their understanding. And I have found this to be helpful in promoting a spirit of unity in our household.
    • Oct 29 2012: "I do know these things, with the exception of French."

      Most people don't, and what if your kid wants to learn French?

      "State education is not free."

      It's not, but the cost usually gets distributed in such a way that rich people pay more to make up for the money poor people don't have, if all education was private parents on minimum wage couldn't send their kids to school.
  • Oct 27 2012: Do you know algebra, do you know biology, do you know French and Spanish (your child should have the option to choose their second language)? Do you have enough money to hire private tutors for these subjects? Do you have time to teach your children stuff all day? Do you want nuns to teach your children everything fun in life is sinful and that everyone who doesn't live according to some dogma (that includes hating on gay people) goes to hell?

    Most people answer no to all of the above, and that's why we allow the state to educate our children.
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    Nov 7 2012: It would appear that many of our ideas and feelings about public education are similar. I like the Finnish model.

    I've been taking some online courses at the many universities that offer them. I can say I pick up more pertinent information about subjects I lack real knowledge in like "Genetics" very quickly. This is still a new offering with some problems here and there, mostly in the neighborhood of feed back. I think the prepared learner, will find much to offer in these types of classes.

    It does place the responsibility on teachers to be adequately trained in some new techniques like video taping and editing but once a format is established, they need not go back over it again, increasing their free time. These formats can also be offered in the class that is appropriate supplied with desktop stations.

    The speed of learning is amazing. I would recommend everyone take a course and check it out for themselves.
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    Nov 7 2012: "If the state is so bad at raising children, how come we allow the state to educate our children?"


    The real truth is because we are "lazy", or preoccupied with more important things.
  • Nov 6 2012: Canada does well in international comparisons - so broken down it probably isn't. It is important to teach critical thinking, though, a weakness of very many educations systems.

    However, your main point seems to be your question: "Why do we let the state educate our children?" Well, it is not ultimately the responsibility of the state to educate your children. It's your responsibility and you should do it and not complain about the state. Send your children to school, by all means, but ensure you provide a substantial input yourself. I have a feeling you do. Good for you and your kids!

    If the state did not educate children many would suffer from lack of opportunity and there might be no route to demonstrate success in any field - I, for one, would not want to visit an unqualified doctor. As to grading children having a detrimental effect on them - try a Rudolf Steiner school. However, I have met and taught the products of these schools and not yet found a student who was pleased with the outcome.
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      Nov 7 2012: State sponsored education offers opportunities to instill ideas about evolution that can't be found in home schooling or some private schools. It offers avenues to eradicate socially established norms surrounding ideas of racism and class distinction, that don't exist in some Private University institutions as well.

      The state "is" raising our children, unless you can afford some alternative. While providing food, shelter and comfort is paramount to a child's survival, the kind of human being they become has a lot to do with education.

      It is possible, in the state sponsored, educational system for a family with old notions of racism and financial separationism, to end up with a child that thinks their family is old fashion, uneducated and odd.

      When I was a child, it was essential that a family produce the right ideas in the heads of the children. The basic ideas were: reading; writing; and arithmetic and a sense of nationalistic pride, along with belief in religion. Those ways are quickly diminishing, for the most part. We have become caretakers of our own children. The state does the rearing.

      If online education takes hold and we can find a way to supervise our kids at home, it could turn around and move the other way (do we want that?).

      We have come a long ways from our raciest roots in North America, even though we still have far to go. The average child may not know how to do arithmetic in their heads but they can get the correct answer more times than not, with their portable brain substitutes, if they understand the fundamentals of arithmetic and how to use a calculator. Most offices today don't allow their employees the opportunity to do arithmetic in their heads. There are still jobs where the ability to do math in your head is still a requirement, especially in the field where it is not usual to find a calculator handy. Most carpenter jobs require this skill.
  • Nov 6 2012: Yes, there is an alternative. I invite you to do a little research on Finland's educational system. Three decades ago, Finland decided to revamp their whole educational system from being competitive to embrace a more collaborative and relaxed environment for their students and scored number one in education as a result of that. This video pretty much sums it up: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qlOfZL_J5fo
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      Nov 7 2012: Excellent Video. Pretty much speaks to the reality of the situation. Perhaps it is the answer to the question posed by the author, Tao P.
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    Nov 3 2012: "What is an alternative to the current method of education. Is there a way to light the fire of children's curiosity rather than smothering it with facts."

    Tao P. There is an alternative to this type of educational system. It is a known fact that when children are educated in an environment where there are no losers and winners, the medium average hovers over the middle of the population. Why? Because the winners become ministers too the loosing class. When the bare fact of being human is the source of reverence for all within the population you have harmony, a sense of brother and sister hood a village like atmosphere.

    The big power or drive in all of this is the idea of a sense of "Reverence" for the human model. Without it, the human becomes nothing more than another object for manipulation within the framework of survival.

    If the greatest act of reverence was for a human being was to give their life for another, then you have the basic premise to establish rule by human devotion to one another.

    Every other idea about social harmony falls away from this centrist ideal. The idea of togetherness is central and offset from the idea of self. Self is the current rule of the day and has been for all the history of mankind. We must evolve and become a society of togetherness. Together there is no mountain too large or heavy for us to move. Together, we can move out into the stars.

    Believe it or not. The idea of corporation offers an avenue towards reaching this goal. By forming ourselves into corporations we become brothers and sisters of the corporation and the corporations become elements in the society of social existence. Currently, we are spread out too thinly. By contracting ourselves into Social villages (Living corporation cells), we can consolidate our resources better and extend resources to each corporate village cell as it's needs be. From each cell according to it abilities and to each according to its needs.
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      Tao P 50+

      • +2
      Nov 3 2012: (Thanks for your thoughtful reply. I read this after responding to your previous reply. This is definitely an optimistic post)

      That is one powerful suggestion for a new system of education to be based upon. To take a step further perhaps we can remove the judgement (grading) that is so prevalent in schools today. The only time for tests is when one needs to prove their skills are adequate for a particular task (to drive a car, become a surgeon, work as an electrician) but these can even be performed as an apprentice to a professional who can then approve ones proficiency without a true test.

      To build on your other point, I agree that we do need to develop a more co-operational society. It is inevitable that we would go from acting as individuals to acting as groups and communities, it is the only way evolution flows.
      I like your point on having mutual corporations, though perhaps what you are stating is more akin to having cooperatives. I think we can apply your idea to communities then perhaps they could have more community space that the members could access and take care of. More places for social interaction.
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        Nov 3 2012: We see the same picture. :)

        The reason most of the systems we've created fail is because they always evolve along capitalistic lines where the greatest portions is distributed to the one with the ability to gather the greatest portion. It is the nature of the game, like playing poker, it a a game more so than a method of creating harmony and togetherness. A wealth distribution network based on need would serve us better.

        We need educated children, not children who can pass a test. All children, if given the opportunity to learn, according to their abilities can lean anything. But, if we constrain them with time limits, we introduce a mechanism that accumulates failure, as well as success. We must get ride of the sense of failure. This, of course, is one of the motives of the Special Olympics movement.

        The ideas I posed in the beginning about population control are very circulatory in the realm of the ruling class. Why? Because it is a cheap idea to implement. The basic motivation of the wealthy after they obtain wealth is how to hold on to it. It is a natural form of survival of the fittest and dominates almost every faucet of human endeavor today. How to change and eradicate this desire requires us to change the way we live and view success and failure. We have to get rid of the notion of failure.

        Testing, of course only helps to foster a sense of failure. But, everything we do is a test of sorts. Each time a doctor preforms an operation it is a test of his/her abilities to accomplish the operation.
        What if the doctor fails the test?

        Change towards making us feel a sense of togetherness and doing away with any sense of failure is something new. It's something we have never obtained before. It's necessary if we are to continue a sense of reverence for Life.

        "It's always more complicated than it appears". John's Rule of Life.
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        Nov 4 2012: Don, for each human being hell or heaven, as you believe, is only a breath away. It can't get any closer.

        Yes, I agree, togetherness should be the goal of all humanity.
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    Oct 28 2012: "Anyone, but me... Just so long as I don't have to take responsibility for my sex life... It's fine. Give them to the government."