TED Conversations

Bradley Breeden

This conversation is closed.

Change the way we educate our children.

We know that disruptive thinking is one of the best ways to innovate, so why do we work so hard to change that mind set in our children. Let me start when I had this thought. Several years ago I agreed to build (well help build, my 7 year old insisted he would do most of the work) my son a tree house. I started by asking him how he wanted it to look, size, height, etc. At 7 years old it was quite possible that this tree house was going to be two stories, have an elevator, running water, electricity and a throne room (this was his castle phase). Obviously this wasn't going to happen but to see him do what we call thinking out the box was refreshing. Flash forward 8 years and my son no longer thinks like that. Some would call in maturing but at what point is mature to mature. One thing I noticed was the way we educate. It's not here's a problem now how would you solve it, it's this is how you solve this problem now practice. What we lose is the disruptive thinking that leads to great innovation. In giving kids the ability to think freely, innovate and yes fail, we give them what success is built on. I think we need to focus more on letting a child come up with his or her own ideas then explore why they may or may not work. I hear too much of ‘that’s a great idea but let us try this'. What I would like to hear is 'that's a great idea; let us look into that a bit'.

Topics: education
Share:
  • thumb
    Dec 8 2012: The way we educate children has been permanetly changed by state and federal government. Teachers do not have many options left. With the new Common Core Curriculum and the teachers evals being tied to the students grades a new emphasis has been placed on high pressure testing.

    It is possiable that teachers will have to teach the test in order to cover all of the material that they are now required to cover and protect them selves in the testing arena.

    You will probally see a ridgid lock step approach in order to cover the ground. The opportunity to allow student to deviate either in good or bad ways is a thing of the past.

    Money is down and requirements are up. Teachers are certainly not to blame for this ... however they are in the direct line of fire. The hoops that teachers are to jump through are higher and smaller than ever before.

    Secretary of Education Arne Duncan is holding the money and the states either play his game or lose the big bucks. Washington at its best.

    Your idea has merit, but I am afraid that circumstances have taken options away.

    Best of luck. Bob.
    • thumb
      Dec 8 2012: I agree, Robert, that regimentation is in vogue now. Teachers typically hate this format. Teachers go into the field almost always, (in my experience working with and doing training for teachers), because they love learning themselves and want to convey that love, as well as the content/reasoning of their disciplines in their own way to kids. Losing that flexibility to try things they think can work for the kids sitting in front of them is somewhere between annoying and heartbreaking, depending on the teacher.
  • thumb
    Dec 7 2012: I have long thought that the mark of the excellent teacher is to see the potential in what his/her students' say. In watching novice teachers or poor ones, I have often found the major gap to be what I call "missed opportunities" in how they respond to students' ideas to bring forward the potential and value, which may be more in an adjoining area than in the problem at hand, but so what? Fruitful ideas bear acknowledgment and explicit following up in some way, both for the leverage they yield and to support the disposition to think originally.

    The problem that sometimes occurs in the classroom mirrors the problem in life. Many people listen to what another puts forward only by recognizing whether it falls in line with their own preconceived notions rather than by listening for the possibly unanticipated potential. This trait connects to what in psychology is called 'thick boundaries." Thin boundaries, in contrast, are connected to flexibility of mind, because categories are not so sharply drawn.

    One issue that arises in education, within deliberation over content and pedagogy is how to pace/intermix the development of fundamental skills and understanding in conjunction with the development of creative and constructive habits of mind. That both are essential is a given. It's how to pace the two in tandem that is a major challenge for schools and the focus of constant experimentation and swings back and forth.
  • thumb
    Dec 11 2012: Changing the way we educate our children is an absolute necessity. I am a student; I have been an instructor of mathematics. The standardized testing regulations imposed by state and federal programs are oppressive not only to students, but also to teachers. Consider the Texas education system. Every single teacher in the state that teaches a core subject (math/english/science/social studies) has a set of what we call Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills (TEKS) that all teachers must get through by the end of march/April to take the End of Course Exam. There are over a hundred of these TEKS that teachers have to cover in depth from September to March. Evidently, teachers are so absorbed in trying to meet those criteria that they lose the point of teaching in the first place: to prepare students for the real world. Now, they are just skimming over really interesting topics, sacrificing attention for cramming. That can't be good for society. :)
  • Dec 8 2012: Thanks for the complement.

    I even made an educators version, called MyReadingMapped-For-Schools, that offers a select group of my blog's 100 Google Maps, complete with lesson questions and summaries based on the input of educational technology consultant, Carol LaRow, who is advising me on how to make it acceptable to educators.

    But as for sprucing it up, the maps have 40,000 visitors from 153 countries, speaking 102 languages who seem to like just the way they are. The blog design has a similar look to the many Google Maps that are on the site, and is designed within the limitations of Blogger. I research the subjects, research the locations, plot the maps, write the blog, and find an audience. Since its free, I can't afford a professional web designer, so I do it within my web design skill set. I was a much better print designer than I ever was a web designer. The technology issues just seem to get in the way of an effective design. Besides, as a marketing person, I always felt it best to have the site communicate and be searchable rather than be well designed.

    Most visitors bookmark or favorite the original Google Map and have little need for the blog site other than to find other maps. The Google Map account mapview count is twice that of the blog pageview count.
  • Dec 8 2012: RE: "One thing I noticed was the way we educate. It's not here's a problem now how would you solve it, it's this is how you solve this problem now practice. What we lose is the disruptive thinking that leads to great innovation."

    Okay, how do you innovate history? How does disruptive thinking solve a problem involving history or to get a kid to think on his or her own?

    To me, as a retired marketing manager who created corporate training materials, the answer is by hands on experience. But how does a student get hands on experience with history of the past? That is where innovation comes in. I created a web site that has over 100 interactive Google Maps of Historic Events. Since students of low and middle income levels cannot travel to all the different type of biomes, MyReadingMapped enables students of any income level to experience far-away places and gain an appreciation of the diversity around the world. It enables them to digitally experience famous expeditions like Lewis and Clark, Marco Polo, Alexander the Great and 30+ others while they read read about them in the explorer's own, or historian linked eBook. Each location is quoted and page referenced. Others are linked to Wikipedia pages. They get to go places where history took place, see actual ruins up close, see nature's wonders, follow explorers, see things under the ocean, and see the scenes where masterpieces were painted. They get to see sunken ship sites, ancient cities and ruins, American Revolution and Civil War Battle sites, environmental disasters, train and plane crash sites. Where Republican forms of government are and where the monarchies of antiquity were. See the oldest lighthouses and record holding roller coasters. With the associated Google Earth KMLfiles they can digitally walk the path of famous explorers, climb Mount Everest and K2 following the route of famous mountain climbers. MyReadingMapped makes history relevant to them because they get to digitally experience it.
    • thumb
      Dec 8 2012: George, Wow. I cant agree enough. I just checked your site and it is truly amazing. You ought to put your Marketing Expereince behind this site if it is not yet getting a million hits from students.

      I belive the midsent to learn and educated oneself needs a change. That is by drawing curious and inquisitive minds to such material and help them learn and see thigs differently. And unfortunately many do not see the learn more as they do not know the what else is out there. Hence the fundamental curriculum needs to be changed.

      I had recently posted an idea on my blog about why people need to learn and pursue quality education or material. I believe that contributiors like yourself play important roles in this process. I will spread the word about your site, perhaps you can spruce it up and make it more approacable to several potential curious minds.
  • thumb
    Dec 7 2012: I encourage you to watch the following TED talks

    http://www.ted.com/talks/ken_robinson_changing_education_paradigms.html
    and
    http://www.ted.com/talks/dan_pink_on_motivation.html

    the reason for posting the 2nd video has to do with the fact that our educational systems are designed as corporate subsidies. If you check out the US Dept of Ed website, it says that it's mission is to prepare students for global competition. Imagine all of the things that it doesn't stand for - including preparing students to run a government that is supposed to be of, by, and for the people.

    If students are being prepared to be willing slaves to a corrupt system, and essential information is being withheld, students shut down in the name of survival.

    "1984" is upon us. Welcome to to the awareness of how the dystopia is held securely in place.
  • thumb
    Dec 7 2012: Very ture. For this to happen we need to take the time and have the patience to enable to inqusitive process which we seldome manage to accomplish.

    A child cannot learn to walk without falling a few times and learnign to get up on his or her own. But as parents we are eager to stop them from falling and hurting themselves. Similarly we are too eager to point out the easy way to them to save time.

    Many take the time to encourage creative thinking. Todays parents are lot more intelligent and try to accomodate such proceses as and when they can afford to give the time and support the process.

    But many fail too.

    You bring up a very good point!
    • thumb
      Dec 7 2012: You make an astute observation, Maaher. Exploratory.inquiry-focused curricula often make parents nervous. In my experience with urban school districts, parents tend to urge schools to stick with direct instruction (lecture) and teaching use and accuracy with concrete procedures. Anyone who has sat on an adoption committee for mathematics materials sees this in full force. I recall one publisher of discovery-focused materials to suggest that classroom time be focused on inquiry and discussion but to make sure that what gets sent home as homework is worksheets, so parents wouldn't worry.
      • thumb
        Dec 7 2012: I see your point. It suppose it is yet an ongoing process of development of thinking... . Many parents pass on the process they conformed to as opposed to change and address the new thinking minds that hold the future.
        • thumb
          Dec 7 2012: Adults who figured out how to take maximum advantage of their educations while they were in school often like to see the same pedagogies they learned from. Those who were disengaged as students sometimes think the solution is better lecture. We just have to keep pushing for what works best to develop capable thinkers and doers, experiment, and take our cues from research in the classroom rather than political messages or well-meaning, uninformed advice.