TED Conversations

Rachel Lehmann-Haupt

Senior Editor, TED Books, TED Books


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How can design-driven and vocational education improve our schools and communities? Join our live Q&A on Feb 5th at 3PM

In 2009, author and TED speaker Emily Pilloton moved to Bertie County, North Carolina — the poorest county in the state with a population of just 20,000. There she and her partner Matthew Miller launched Studio H, a design/build program aimed to inspire creativity in high school kids.

Through the eyes of her students, Pilloton tells the story of the group’s hopes, failures, triumphs, and the power of design-driven education. According to Pilloton, we can dramatically revamp vocational education and build the change we wish to see in the world. Ultimately her students were given the key to the city by their mayor for initiating, designing, and building three public chicken coops and a 2000-square-foot public farmer’s market.

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Author and TED Speaker Emily Pilloton will be joining us for a one-hour live conversation on TUESDAY, FEB 5th at 12PM PST/3PM EST. Mark your calendars!


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    Feb 5 2013: We have since moved our program to REALM Charter School in Berkeley, CA. We taught two full years in Bertie and a total of 26 graduated from our program. In Berkeley, the heart and soul of Studio H remains the same: we design and build projects that students initiate, based on the context of the place and people. So we may not be building a farmers market, because Berkeley has plenty of those, but one need our students identified at REALM was the shortage of space. We only have 8 classrooms and need 9. So they said "let's build it ourselves." We are in the process of building an 800-square-foot space on school grounds for our school community, because as one student said so eloquently, "the first community we belong to is our school community." We also just finished concrete public furniture, and individual hand-holds for a rock climbing wall. We may take on a skate park and skateboard-building lab next!

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