TED Conversations

Morton Bast

editorial coordinator, TED


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What's your million-dollar idea to change the world?

Every year, the TED Prize is given to one innovative thinker who has what it takes to make a difference -- by putting one million dollars into action in order to fulfill a world-changing vision.

Since nominations are open for the 2014 TED Prize, we wanted to put our heads together with you, the TED community, and brainstorm even further: How would you choose to make an impact with one million dollars? What would you like to see as next year's TED Prize wish to inspire the world?

This is a space for you to get your mental gears turning. If you would like to officially nominate a mentor, colleague, friend -- or even yourself -- head to www.tedprize.org by Sunday, June 16.


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  • May 30 2013: I would like to fund a small school, which teaches children critical thinking, reasoning, compassion, arts, by using disused government buildings, or giving tax relief to private owners for the empty premises, of which there are many in this recession. I would like to get advice from Ken Robinson and Geoffrey Canada and similar to work out the best programme and persuade companies to sponsor a child, which they could then mentor the child through to working age, concentrating of skills rather than qualifications. No overt religious or political symbols allowed so that ones humanity and not social badges are what we are judged by.
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      May 31 2013: Ronald we seem to have a good deal of overlap in our proposals. Perhaps we could collaborate? I can not tell from your profile where you are located, although it seems you may be in the U.K.. I am in Idaho U.S.A. I have a facility that is 90% ready and decades of experience and a core of teachers and therapists and an overall plan that is shovel ready. Sir Ken is an inspiring speaker now we have to make the Dream live and walk the talk to show what can be done. what do you think?
      • Jun 1 2013: Hi Chad, Yes, I am in the UK, however, the design of education as a training ground for industry rather than individual betterment is pretty much a world wide problem. I am sure there are schools out there that do promote holistic growth in their pupils, but ordinary working folk will never be able to afford them. Schools like Eton, Harrow and Christ's Hospital, turn out so many successful people that they must be doing something right, although having well connected families probably helps too. I would like to make such an education available to disadvantaged children, not just the poor, but those like me that had 'Could do better' on every school report, but was never encouraged to be better and let me hide under the radar as average.
        I hope your proposal is a successful one. How long has it taken to get this far?
        I have a friend in Seattle, Washington, which is the next state along, but never got that far up. It all looks convenient on a map, but when you live on a small island, transposing the vast distances and geography of the US is not easy. One day perhaps, but I have also promised to visit friends in Annapolis MD and St George UT, so I will have to have a substantial budget.
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          Jun 1 2013: Ronald the way from Seattle to St. George passes very close to my door, stop and see me virtually anytime. I agree absolutely that effective education is a world problem and a problem we must solve if world society is going to avoid collapse over the next couple decades, more time we do not have. I have been cogitating on an ideal school for 45 years and have the outline fairly complete. I have a facility that is nearly so. The ideal academic curriculum covers all and everything that anyone desires to learn but first one must learn how to learn and then how to choose. Learning how to learn comes right after learning the parameters of what it means to be a human being. Teaching with respect requires giving the student responsibility for their own choices. Having choice retains motivation, without motivation and relevance no useful learning can occur. In short the learning environment and attitude and skills of staff is more important than any static curriculum and no one narrow method fits everyone. An approach that emphasizes flexible skilful means can succeed even in the most difficult cases if it is motivated by sincere compassion. It is strange to me how so many trust the open market and the principle of free enterprise in real life but then hypocritically insist that we must treat students like slave laborers in a gulag. Just like the old Soviet aphorism of they pretend to pay us and we pretend to work, students pretend to learn for grades. Personal observation and studies both show that retention of the required curriculum after graduation from high schools in America is a pitiful 20% on average. As for life skills, other than the crossover skill of apple polishing for your boss their appears to be nearly nothing.

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