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 5 2011: I apologize in advance for any faux pas or slip of the tongue I happen to make. I'm kind of fond of the idea of trade schools. Having one next to each public school, will give kids, those who don't like school or can't get the hang of it and don't want to be there, a fighting chance in the real world. If a town is centered around a few oil refineries, like my own, then set up a trade school that teaches students to be welders, pipe fitters, brick layers, and every other job the refineries have to offer. The trade schools would be optional; the students would have the choice between public school and trade school. In my opinion, this system would be incredibly effective in solving the drop out rate problem states are facing and the unemployment rate. If a student will never use the information they are learning in school, then why teach it to him? Why force feed information to those who have no need for it? Instead of the one track plan where a student spends countless hours having, to said student, useless information crammed down his throat, that same student could opt to spend his high school career at a trade school learning skills that would earn them a job right out of high school and truly ensure their future.
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      Apr 5 2011: Do not apologize for a good idea, ever.

      A major fault of our present system is that we have all become completely focused on university entrance requirements. These are the cheapest courses to offer, so there's no big surprise why technical and vocational courses have disappeared.
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        Apr 5 2011: Casen has a great point,

        indeed our education also doesn't educate us on alternative choices besides go to college.... The ability to work your way to a union right after high school is a great thing! Being an electrician, plumber, working for a DPW, etc etc. The people of my local DPW start off at 22 hourly, one of the jobs is to pick up leaves during the spring until after fall.. then they are a snowplower or street cleaner.
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      Apr 9 2011: As an instructor at a technical college, I'm all for the idea of teaching people to be skilled craft-workers. But it's also fun in a kind of subversive way to help these students who "don't like school or can't get the hang of it" to open their minds to learning in ways they didn't think possible. Math and science comes alive when you get to see them both put to practical use!

      It's a shame that so many people destined for University do not even consider hands-on vocations because of an anti-intellectual perception. In America at least, vocational classes in high school have been a dumping ground for students with behavioral problems, and post-secondary vocational institutions often aren't seen as much better.
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      Apr 12 2011: You are correct Casen, about offering more trade schools as I have been an advocate for these for years; but besides we need to base them on some of the European methods where students are tracked in elementary school (often times having the same teacher so he/she really gets to know the student) and then given the chance to be successful in a school set for their needs. In the UK some even get to graduate from a tech school at age 16 and can enter the work force.....BUT the problem now is that there are so few jobs due to outsourcing and just poor economies that it is becoming a big problem for these teens. But besides this, Germany did the same thing, however the students were paid as apprentices until age 18. And going BACK in time with me, when I was in high school in Chicago, we had the choice of going to a tech school for engineers and that ilk or another tech school for those who wanted "hands on" careers like a car mechanic; then a business school (but mainly for women to be secretaries at that time) and then finally a regular high school where I went; and I know times were different, but I can only remember two students in my whole class who dropped out. But with all of that said, besides this, we need to just TOTALLY revamp our educational system, so we will not all further behind....and get rid of standardized testing and NCLB for they are not helping as well as to teach our students (and their parents) to value learning, for that is not done in this country.
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        Apr 17 2011: We have some great trade schools in Alberta, but somehow our culture has created a caste system based around education and time spent in school/college/university.

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