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 28 2013: It's not a wacky idea. And it is a very popular one! You might take interest in the TED talks we have about play and how even businesses have for some years now been building environments to encourage and support playfulness into their spaces.

    This is my favorite one, but we have twelve right now under the tag "play." http://www.ted.com/talks/tim_brown_on_creativity_and_play.html
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      Jan 30 2013: Hi Fritzie

      Thanks for your support and interest in this conversation. I enjoyed the TED talk about Serious Play you referred me to.

      I think you children are very fortunate to have a Mom who is "Only technically a grown-up"

      Best wishes,


      I have mentioned the Sudbury Valley School www.sudval.org in a reply above. I think you'll find it fascinating.

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