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Paul Verstraete

Organizational Facilitator, Johns Hopkins Center for the Social Organization of Schools

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TEDTalk Public Schools

What would it take to create a school based on the principles described in our favorite TEDTalks?

What would the school look like both physically and organizationally? What would be taught? Who would teacher? How would classes be taught? How would students, teachers, schools be evaluated? Lets use TED.

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  • Mar 31 2011: It is absolutely possible to create a school based on the principles of TED talks. Cutting edge technology and newly-structured buildings would be lovely, but it really comes down to recognizing that we are educating students for jobs that haven't even been created yet. That what we, as students, had to memorize and regurgitate on a test or quiz can now be researched within seconds on a phone. Cultures that we wrote penpal letters to across the world can now Skype classroom to classroom at a moment's notice. A school that realizes this would have integrated classrooms, rigor in learning to learn, focus on the ability to collaborate effectively with others, and purposeful instruction that empowered every student regardless of socio-economic background the power of independent thinking and initiator of his/her own learning. Teachers would not only realize, but identify, the strengths and needs of every single child in their classrooms, and instruct accordingly. There are such philosophies emerging in public education: constructivism, for one. Project-based learning. Student-centered classrooms where the teacher works as a mentor rather than the all-knowing expert. Great teachers are doing this now in our schools. The problem is, they are few and far between. Many are isolated for this progressive thinking and squashed by district, state, and federal pressure of standardized test. A TED school is possible -- it would just take funding to start and carefully selected educators to carry the vision to fruition.
  • Apr 20 2011: After a career in Education my most treasured years were the ones where a team mate and I facilitated a comprehensive project oriented curriculum. The discovery and student ownership empowered the children to become confident and unafraid of exploration and kindled the joy of learning for many. It does my heart good to see John Hunter and his World Peace Game recognized for this type of holistic learning experience! Funny, the students always let you know what turns them on in learning and this way is complex and challenging enough that they find their passions and gifts in the context of healing the earth and creating a healthier way forward. Wonderful!
    How could we create schools based on this? I once read Jean Huston's vision of a New Era School and it so inspired me I wrote to her and asked if it was something she already started. (She has started systems in several countries) Inspiration and vision is needed as John Hunter shows. His kids took it into action and are learning. Those who engage in reforming inspire others and soon it takes hold. It's happening. Look at the kids that protested at the capital about Global Warming and creating a Green Econmy. It just needs some encouragement to become more widespread and it is! As their elders we are their encouragers/facilitators!Thank you TED for being apart of doing just that! One of my former students' parents told me that their daughter has learned Chinese and is desiring to become a bridge builder between the two nations. How great is that?
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    Apr 11 2011: Perhaps public school will eventually mean that the education will come from engaging with several aspects of our actual public community. There is much to learn from immersing ourselves in various situations and positions.
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    Apr 7 2011: A wise person once told me that while better hardware will get you incremental improvements, a better algorithm will get an order of magnitude improvement. The topic was software, but the same thinking applies to how we teach and learn. Example: the Socratic method doesn't require any hardware. But the results can be astounding in terms not only of what is learned, but also how the student feels about it. After all, they had the answers all along. They just needed someone to ask the right questions.

    Don' get me wrong; better and more hardware, whether its brick and mortar or computer hardware, can make a lot of difference. But it's not the most important thing. It's more like Daniel Pink's take of economic incentives: they're only important up to the point where money is no longer an issue. Having very basic needs resolved leaves us at the heart of the dilemma; how best to educate kids. Increasingly the answer that is emerging seems to be "get out of the way".

    While cold fusion may or may not ever provide endless energy, just get a kid truly engaged on a topic, give them the tools they need to investigate further, and stand back, i.e. lead from the back of the room.
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    Apr 7 2011: I would say it would incorporate some principles of the TED talk by Stanley McChrystal - listen and learn to lead. The teachers would not only talk and teach, but also listen and learn. The students would also be encouraged to listen and learn from their peers.
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    Mar 28 2011: You would need with a broader training than the rigid teacher education system in place now, and you would (therefore) have to pay them considerably more. It would also require the funding of organic classroom/learning spaces, high-end technology resources, and engaged commitment from parents.