TED Conversations

Nick Heap

Facilitator of change and learning, Practical Developmental Ideas (self employed)

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In our present chaos, we need the enthusiasm, ability to learn and try things that children have naturally. Can we learn these from them?

We are all going through a period of rapid, unpredictable and sometimes chaotic change. Nothing is certain any more. We need to be adaptable, flexible, confident, resourceful and willing and able to learn and try new things in order to cope with this environment. It would also be great if doing so was fun and personally rewarding.

The only people who have these qualities in abundance everywhere are very young children. (This is marvellously shown in Sugata Mitra's talk.) Education almost everywhere seems to be about pumping adult knowledge and skills into children. I think the demands of the 21'st century requires us do the opposite as well. We adults need to learn from children, so we can face our challenges with the joy, enthusiasm and confidence they show naturally.

One simple way to start might be to notice how young children go about learning. We could find out what the best conditions are to support this. Some brave adults to immerse themselves in a similar environment and try and emulate their young role models.

This is just one slightly wacky idea. I would be interested to learn if these thoughts make sense to you and if you have any other ways we could take this further.


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    Jan 30 2013: Here is a story to illustrate how extraordinary children are. An English Unilever manager, with his wife and child were moved very frequently by the company. They decided to send their son to local kindergarten's rather than to the one's run by the company, where English was spoken.

    Their son was soon happily chatting with new friends in their language. By the time he was six he was fluent in FIVE languages.

    This just makes me think that we have a lot to learn from children about how to learn. We also have a lot to learn about how to create the conditions so children can keep on learning as fast as they do when they are very young.

    As the world gets more crowded and more interconnected, we have more to manage and learning fast is crucial.

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