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 9 2011: If you want students to have a positive voice in education, they must also have a realistic perspective of the value of education. Asking students to help reform education when they do not yet have a firm grasp on how their education can, will, or should empower their lives as adults is unlikely to yield much benefit.

    However . . . structuring education in ways that place young students in age-appropriate roles of responsibility, where success and failure is more than just a letter-mark on paper but has real, tangible consequences, would go a long way toward educating them for life.

    A model that immediately comes to mind is that of a child growing up on a farm, where they are given responsibility for doing important tasks, among them caring for living things. Something as simple as this is a tremendous learning experience for a young person. Managing real money at a young age is another model for helping children gain perspective and value the importance of subjects such as math.
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      Apr 17 2011: I agree with you Tony. In my view our failure to involve our children and youth in authentic and meaningful responsibilities is the underlying problem. To solve this we give them all sorts of courses to try to replace that involvement. This adds years and years to their "education", without connecting them to the environment where they will put their knowledge and skills to use. Because they are not allowed to participate in a meaningful way they find what we want them to learn meaningless, and many just slough it off and find their own way. This situation continues right through university - if the post secondary schools keep adding courses to what students have to learn to graduate, pretty soon our graduates will be senior citizens before they are put to work.

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