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Colin Powell

Off-topic comments moved from Colin Powell's talk.


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    Feb 9 2013: The comments on this thread are amazing, astounding and amusing, depending on one's personal beliefs and agendas, going everywhere from the presenter being a hero, to a war criminal, and many things in between. Regardless of individual perceptions of the presenter and his career, the ONLY thing he advocates in this talk, is that kids need structure. As he clearly suggests, structure can mean anything from standing at attention, to a "child in a mothers arms".

    Actually, his suggestion to stand at attention simply reminds me of this talk by Amy Cuddy about posture, which, in my perception, is a valid concept.


    Powell's message is simply that kids have a good start...have a supportive network, be part of a family, respect, and he also reinforces that this is only "part of the answer". A valuable part of his message, is that kids start imprinting from the time they are babies, and we need to be aware of that fact to encourage and support strong members of our community.

    "Structure" can mean a foundation of love.....respect, compassion, empathy, kindness. Let's start right here on this thread....right now.....by letting go of personal agendas and beliefs, and really looking at the message without criticizing or defending the presenter!
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    • Feb 10 2013: Bravo.
    • Feb 11 2013: Great thought! Let's all go along with what general Powell is saying together and sing his praises in unison. After all, he is an authority figure and we all need to respect everything that our leaders say and do. We need to get behind his innovative new ideas because the most important thing is what heroic leaders like the good general say.

      This country needs more people that think right and act right. This country does not need that old thinking of the past where many people had different ideas that were not officially approved to be correct.

      Let's start right here at TED and be a model of what can be accomplished when great leaders and right thinking people work together for the good of the nation!

      Love to all,

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        Feb 11 2013: Hi Ana,
        I don't agree with respecting everything someone says, whether s/he is an authority figure or not. I totally agree that we, as individuals, need to think and act in a way that is beneficial. The idea of children having a structure is not new, and, as I said in my previous comment, "structure can mean a foundation of love, respect, compassion, empathy and kindness". I agree with you...."let's start right here at TED and be a model of what can be accomplished..."
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        • Feb 11 2013: Colin Powell is a national hero having saved the United States from the dictator Saddam Hussein and the weapons of mass destruction he was planning on using against the United States and the invasion he was planning.

          The people of the United States owe their very lives to this great man, so I am surprised that you do not think that this is important.

          Powell is championing the brilliant idea that the same educational systems that are used so successfully in the military be extended more broadly to other education, particularly young children. He proposes to do this by bringing structure and discipline to education.

          It is very important that we look at the tremendous success that the military has in building right thinking, quick acting, obedient soldiers out of a wide variety of recruits, many of whom come to the military with a wide variety of educational backgrounds and personal philosophies. The military, using the model that General Powell proposes, turns these various people in a very short time into a well oiled machine capable of executing orders on command, no matter what they are and no matter the circumstances.

          This order is exactly what this country needs. This is what our children need. We have seen the disaster that permissive education has wrought. We need well thought out set of ideals, philosophy, duty and curriculum taught to all children in a structured environment where each and every child will learn the same approved material in the same way. This new age of properly educated children will grow from birth to be orderly, right thinking, right behaving, right believing, productive members of a structured society that is centrally designed for the good of all.

          I think that this talk is more than just the wisdom of a truly great man. It is a wake up call to all of us on how we can give the next generation a well designed and structured life. I call on the entire TED community to support giving our children the gift of obedience!
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        Feb 11 2013: Ana,
        With all due respect, Colin Powell is a person who did a TED talk about kids needing structure. I do not agree that the structure of the military is the best thing for all kids.

        I did not say his career has no importance. That is not the topic of this discussion. I agree with you that this talk is a wake up call. I do not agree that "obedience" is the only thing we need to teach children for them to be creative, productive members of our world.
        • Feb 11 2013: Colleen, of course the career of General Powell is important. This is the foundation on which his credibility is based. TED is not YouTube. TED does not permit just anybody to walk in off the street and post whatever video they like. No, TED selects talks based on the credibility of the speakers, the novelty of the ideas, the correctness of their thinking and how well the speakers ideas fit in with TED's larger philosophy and agenda. For example, TED would never post a discussion saying that global warming was a myth. TED has rightly determined that global warming is a topic that only has a single correct view.

          So the fact that Colin Powell is a national hero for having stopped the WMD menace that defined Iraq and simultaneously bringing hope and freedom and prosperity to Iraq is vitally important for the credibility and weight of the ideas he presented. Can we not agree that having Powell make this presentation himself is different from some Joe Blow talking as a parent in front of a local school board? Would anyone take Joe Blow as seriously as General Powell even if their words were exactly the same? Of course not. His credibility comes from his history.

          Powell is talking about bringing the wonderful structure the military uses to achieve the goal of a singleness of purpose and obedience. Powell remarked at "how much you could do with them" once soldiers came to obey their orders without thought or question. Powell also talked about kids standing at attention with military bearing when he spoke with them. He talked about his success using the military command "at ease" with 7 year olds. He talked about putting teenagers into ranks, cutting their hair and having them all look alike and how beneficial this was for order and obedience. He talked about "yes sir, no sir and no excuse sir" and how wrong thinking is removed by structure.

          This is exactly what we need for our children: stand up, sit straight, walk tall, obey and think right.
        • Feb 22 2013: Colleen, I think Ana is having a little fun at your expense..... Seems very tongue in cheek..
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        Feb 11 2013: Ana,
        You are absolutely right....TED is not YouTube. I am quite familier with TED Ana, I've been here for several years:>) I have expressed my ideas about the topic, (Kids need structure), and I believe I understand your position. I do not agree with your interpretation of "structure".
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        Feb 22 2013: LOL....yes, based on Ana's comments, AFTER this interaction Michael, I think you are right!!! I don't perceive it to be at my expense, however. I prefer to be clear, rather than fool around with "tongue in cheek" in an on-line forum discussion:>)
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      Feb 12 2013: Thank you for clarifying it. Well done!
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        Feb 12 2013: Thanks Drew! Folks don't seem to "get" that this talk and comment thread is not about Powell, his career, whether he's a good guy or bad guy. The topic is: "Kids need structure"! Comments that stay on topic are interesting. Reading people's perception and judgment about the presenter.....not so interesting AND off topic!
        • Feb 13 2013: Hum... I'd like to discuss Powell's career with you. Joking ;) But you say that the topic of this speech is : Kids need structure. I strongly disagree with this narrowed view of the speech. Of course they need structure, everything need structure to grow, even plants. You say that structure ''can mean a foundation of love.....respect, compassion, empathy, kindness''. This is true. Although he mentions some of this features when he talks about a loving mom that take care of her children, this is not the kind of structure he described in school or in the army.

          He explicitly says that when they get them (in the army) they put them in ranks, make them all wear the same clothes, cut all their hair off so that they all looked alike, so they can obey instructions and know the consequences of not obeying instructions and force them to answer only by three possible answers. The result : after 18 weeks they do exactly as they’re told, and starts to love and respect the man that controlled their life for the last 4 months. Sounds like a brainwash to me. This is clearly not the kind of structure that would bring things like imagination, creativity, innovation, skepticism, critical thinking, which are the basis of our modern societies and, tell me if I’m mistaken, one of the goal of TED.

          I understand that this speech might raise question about kid's structure in general, but it is clearly not the goal of this speech. The topic is not within the title of the speech but within the speech. He tries to empower the blind confidence in USA's institution and encourage the submission of the kids, as early as possible, to their parents and the peoples within those institutions. Of course they need structure ! But not one that give them no space to make mistakes.
        • Feb 13 2013: I'd like to add, even though it gives no more credits to my point of view, that I am really impressed with the number of good non-emotional, rational comments that you put throughout TED (I couldn't help myself but to look at some of your other comments on other topics :s). Thanks for being so active ! Quite refreshing ;)
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        Feb 13 2013: Thank you for your kind words Pascal:>)

        I believe the reason TED is deleting comments, is because they are heated debates about the presenter, rather than comments about the topic..."Kids need Structure", and I think you know that:>)

        I LOVE your statement...."everything need structure to grow, even plants." I totally agree with the idea that everything and everyone needs an environment that is conducive to growth.

        I am aware of the "structure" the presenter advocates, and I do not agree with all of it, which is why I focus on the aspects of his presentation that I DO agree with....a parent loving his/her child, parents modeling respect, compassion, empathy and kindness.

        I do not agree with putting them in ranks, wearing the same clothes, cutting off their hair, obeying instructions no matter what, making them do exactly as they are told, etc. I believe the psychology behind this method, is to break them down emotionally, so they can be "programmed" in a certain way. Yes....sounds like brainwash to me too. I agree with you that it is not the kind of structure that encourages imagination, creativity, innovation, skepticism and critical thinking. I believe it is more benificial to encourage and teach children to think and feel for themselves.

        I suggest that one reason kids may end up liking the drill sargent who is cruel and abusive, is because it may be more attention then they've gotten in their dysfunctional families and communities.

        I do NOT, in any way, encourage teaching kids submission or blind obedience. In fact, this idea is one factor behind the sexual abuse of children by the catholic church. I live in an area where there have been many trials....all ending in favor of the victims. I am aware of some of the testimony, where men, now in their 50s and 60s, testified that as little children, they KNEW it was wrong. They had, however, been taught by parents, to OBEY the priest.....do whatever he wanted them to do because he was the authority.
        • Feb 13 2013: It seems to me that you have taken several positions in this forum. On one hand you have reprimanded several posters for considering the context in which Powell made his remarks and the actual examples of military tactics he used, while in the post immediately above, you take a position exactly opposite of that and disagree with virtually every point Powell made.

          Powell is not presenting some Rorschach bit of free poetic verse with the title "Structure" and some vague meaning into which the listener can project their own concept of structure. The talk is not about structure in general. The talk is about a particular kind of structure (military-like) with a particular set of goals (obedience and acting on cue).

          Powell is being crystal clear up to and including using himself and his life as an example. The man himself is a product of the exact system he is clearly proposing. He was breed in that system, his entire career was in that system. He rose in rank within that system, eventually coming to be the central figure in that system. He lead a war using that system in which every single person who fought, helped, worked, was injured or died came out of the precise system he is proposing for general education. What this system is known to produce is key to evaluating it.

          Having been educated in a Catholic school myself, I can attest to exactly the criticism you made. The type of educational structure Powell is proposing is a bad idea precisely because that are a myriad of examples of the downside to central programming of a population by an elite few. This system leads to people who cannot think for themselves, children who are powerless against abuse, crowds who do as a group what they would never do alone and soldiers that kill on command, but against their own morals and their own better judgment.

          This system is inherently dysfunctional and breeds abuse, cruelty and immorality. We must look at history and context when we evaluate any idea.
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        Feb 13 2013: Paola,

        My positions, as I have clearly expressed them:

        1) People have complained that their comments are being removed by TED, so I encourage staying on topic, rather than heatedly, disrespectfully commenting about the presenter. No intent to "reprimanded" anyone....simply suggesting that if they don't want comments deleted by TED, they stay on topic.

        2) The topic is "Kids need structure", and I agree that children need structure.

        3) I do not agree that kids need military structure..."(obedience and acting on cue)", as you have clarified.

        4) Also have been educated in catholic school myself, and totally agree with you that the "structure", as proposed is not good because it "programs" a person, and leads to people who cannot think for themselves, children who are powerless against abuse.

        5) I totally agree....we must look at "context", and review all information to evaluate any idea....which is what I have been doing and saying:>) Just because I do not rant and rave with very long comments, doesn't mean I am not exploring all aspects of the issue:>)

        Hope this is more clear for you?

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