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The ideas put forth in this talk are not just relevant to America, but to several parts of the world, where education has become paralysed.

As I was listening to this talk, I thought about how relevant it was to India, where education is designed only to ensure that students do well in standardized tests. Also, all students who do not pursue Math and Science are considered stupid and incapable. Rote learning and wearying practice are the only paths to success in tests. Students do not learn anything in school, they rely more on their textbooks. Many quit after 10th grade. All decisions related to education are taken by "government authorities" and schools are given little or no freedom. There are no facilities provided to students to develop their critical thinking or engage their curiosity. Instead, it is hammered into their heads that to get a stable job after graduation, it is important to focus on science and math. Those who pursue arts and humanities are considered hippies and wastrels. If we look at this a little deeper, we find that it's not just India that has fallen into this trap. A lot of LDCs have the same problems, especially Asian ones. Clearly, there is a need to do something about this situation, for the sake of the world economy. Rather than just focusing on educating more people in LDCs,its time NGOs and international organizations focused on turning education into something meaningful, that lets students pursue their interests and gives them opportunities to develop their thinking power and potential in whatever area they may want to focus in. The need for Ken's ideas to be implemented is far greater in LDCs like India than in America,because people, students and teachers in these nations are grossly misguided about the true purpose and meaning of education. Yes,it is time to revolutionize education. Not just in America,but in these LDCs as well, for it is the key weapon to bring development. No amount of women empowerment, food programmes, charity and school building is going to beat teacher training,student empowerment and broadening the horizons of education in these LDCs.

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  • May 24 2013: I agree with your comment on the education approach in teaching and learning. I have put up many comments in TED concerning many aspects of education. I currently live in the U. S. A., but my primary education was in Shanghai, China many years ago. In my early education, I took 3 semesters of courses in English before 6th grade, while there wouldn't be any foreign language courses here in the U. S. before 11th grade except for Latin American students, maybe. Same thing happened in math. I had algebra in my 6th grade, while my daughter were still being drilled with 10 repetitions in multiplying pairs of 4 digit number by another 4 digit number. So just like what Rose was saying, the same "grade" in performance from the same level "math courses" could be vastly different. Of course, even in current years, I imaging that a student from Shanghai would still out-perform the student from the U. S. Particularly because the K-12 education is gradually TAKEN OVER BY THE GOVERNMENTS HERE. The governments not only edit every textbook, and inserted in some of their views, and then mandated it as the only textbook the school have to adopt in their teaching materials. Now they are making it worse that they made up all the content of textbooks called the "Common Core" textbooks. It has not been mandatory yet, but the schools will lose some funding if they want to be left alone with their old texts. Anyway, the governments always tried to make the students to be on the same "level of learning" in such program as "No Child Left Behind".
    In conclusion, if you are looking for freedom of learning or individual development, the system here would be the very last place to look into. Our educational policy is going backward, rather than forward. This has already showed up in the international PISA competition scores. It might be helpful if you look into many comments about education in recent TED talks or Discussions where many real teachers offered their ideas.
  • May 23 2013: I completely agree.
    There are many problems with the global education system (as it currently stands). First of all, it doesn't recognize that there is more to intelligence than what we think. It is based on an old philosophy that people are either smart or dumb - academic or non academic. There's a new theory that proposes that there are 8 different spheres of intelligence, and the IQ test and the education system fails to recognize all of these spheres of intelligence, instead just focusing on one or two.
    Because of this old age philosophy, there are geniuses in certain spheres of intelligence (say, bodily intelligence) who are being told they are stupid, over and over again, and thus they expect little of themselves and do not realize their full potential.
    Also, I find it intriguing how in the world, qualifications and schools all work on different levels, and by different specifications and requirements of knowledge - how can you compare an 18 year old school leaver in the UK to an 18 year old school leaver in china, when they were probably taught very different skills for very different tests to obtain grades which, internationally, should be equal (but this isn't always the case) but often aren't?
    In other words, if I'm from China and, say I'm an 18 year old school leaver, and for my latest maths exam (my 'GCSE', if you like) I got full marks. Say I meet a person from England, who is also 18 and a school leaver, and also got full marks in their maths GCSE. We sit down to talk about maths, and then we realize something - what if I know more than my english friend, despite the fact that our qualification is the same? What if, for my exam, I had to learn about topics that my english friend had never even heard of?
    In this sense, this means that when I apply for a job, my employer will compare my maths grade (my 'A*') to the grade of my English friend, and will think that we are on equal terms, when in fact my exam required a lot more knowledge. So its unfair.
  • May 13 2013: Why am I not surprised? Educators in different places would be expected to be pursuing the same goals. Sort of a parrallel evolution.