TED Conversations

Sarah Shewey

CEO/Founder, Happily


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How can we empower kids to reshape the education system? *A TEDActive Education Project Question*


The TEDActive Education Project will explore how children can make an impact on the education system. We hope to come out of this project with fresh ideas for ways kids can start an education revolution.

At TEDActive2011 in Palm Springs, an amazing group of individuals came together as a group to come up with a simple micro-action solution for empowering kids to be a part of the education reform conversations. After a quick 36 hour period of time, the team made a website that allows students to upload videos of their ideas on education reform.

You can empower a student to share their voice at http://elev8ed.org.

Also, please share your own ideas here, or by starting a new conversation tagged with TEDActiveEDU so we can all follow.


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    Apr 4 2011: Public education is deteriorating due to a lack of funding as well as a lack of motivation. Many of the most inspiring and adept teachers are being let go as a direct result of state budget shortfalls. In turn, the majority of teachers that are left in the classroom have been teaching for many years. Unfortunately, for students, most veteran teachers either refuse to incorporate technology from what I coin "The Technological Revolution" or simply don't want to reevaluate and modify their curriculum. Many of the most encouraging, supportive, and novel teachers are being taken out of the classroom. Hence, the classroom is generally more lethargic and less optimistic. Teenagers use technology on a daily basis and need a curriculum that allows them to use technology to address 21st century problems. The 19th century curriculum that is currently in use is focused on students memorizing facts and working in isolation. While many Private schools have created a 21st century curriculum (as a result of attracting better teachers with more lucrative contracts or hiring some of the most technologically adept teachers let go by the Public school system) Public schools have kept the same curriculum that has always been used. Instead of using computers, cell phones, and Ipods to create applications and produce podcasts students are spending time completing basic algebraic equations and reading 18th century literature. With the emergence of new technologies, users are now the creators and the creators are now the valued assets. Students need to learn how to become divergent thinkers through open-ended discussions that address current issues. Solving problems requires learning and learning requires divergent thinking. Therefore, in order to solve problems students and teachers need to be divergent thinkers. Teaching a curriculum based on divergent thinking would require students to adapt, create, and question. Theses are all attributes that employers are seeking.
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      Apr 4 2011: Curriculum is identical for public and private schools.

      Provincial student records do not completely recognize curriculum from even other provinces, let alone so-called special 21st century curriculum written by private institutions.

      The public system's salary, pension and benefits is superior to private schools due to collective bargaining powers, hence many teachers prefer to be with provincial schools.
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        Apr 5 2011: The curriculums are not identical. I live by Private schools that are actually offering TED courses to individuals. They are teaching students about TED and are having them research and create presentations like TED. Private schools have classes on globalization and the Technological Revolution. The wealthiest private schools are offering salaries far superior to public school salaries to attract the brightest mines. I know private school teachers making 80-90,000 dollars a year while public school teachers (at least in LAUSD) can make a max of 72,000 dollars a year. Private school teachers are also able to tutor students for hundreds of dollars an hour. Wouldn't you rather teach at an elite private school with tons of money and passionate, competitive individuals? My school lost an ex M.I.T. P.H.D. teacher to a local private school that gave him a better salary and superior technology to work with in the classroom.
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          Apr 5 2011: Yes, this sounds great, to be sure. I challenge my schools to teach beyond curriculum expectations, which I view as minimal acceptable, whenever possible and appropriate. Enriching the curriculum with such things as TED is fun.

          I am often puzzled as to why the US pays its teachers such low wages (even these private school teacher salaries you quoted). I think it demonstrates the priority the US places on education.
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        Apr 5 2011: If you look at the faculty at elite Private High schools in affluent areas you will laugh. Many of them are P.H.D's and 90 % of them went to an Ivy League school.
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        Apr 5 2011: In the U.S. people make money based on how hard they are to replace. It is much easier to replace Middle School and High School teachers than reality T.V. stars and C.E.O's. America doesn't value education due to the fact that being more educated doesn't mean nearly as much. All of my High School teachers can be replaced in a matter of seconds.

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