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Yuting Liu

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Education is not about school, is the passion for knowledge.

It is very interesting to me that when ever we talk about education, we automatically thinks of school system and how bad they are at doing their job. True schools were build for the purpose of learning, however from my personal experience I would like to say it is not the only place to be educated.

When Sir Ken Robinson talks about education revolution, I think he missed some of the important points. To me, education revolution does not only mean school reforms, but going beyond schools. What I find so precious about learning out side of school is the willingness to acquire more knowledge. I become fascinated by the subject itself and uncontrollably wanting to know more about it. More importantly it gives me freedom to explore deeper and deeper, there is nothing called curriculum to limit you from learning.

Isn't that what we are trying to achieve in our school system but never succeeded? The true passion for knowledge and limitless curiosity.

I believe we are getting it wrong.School should not be the one and only place of learning. We are not giving our next generation enough time to find out all the possibilities of future. We live in such a complex society today, how can our children know about the lastest achievements when they are still learning knowledge centuries ago?

But please don't get me wrong, I still see school as an incredible place to learn knowledge and skills, and gather with people of the same passion. What I'm seeing is that the tight curriculum seems to be limiting potential

Here I'm calling for a change, to cut down the current curriculum and give children the time and opportunity to find out all the things that intrest them. Let our next generation explore the world freely, and pursuit their life's passion. By doing so they will acquire all the necessary knowledge, because that's what they truly wants to learn.

The value of education is the passion for it. If the children are passionate, why wouldn't they learn.

Topics: education
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    May 28 2013: Learning Skills: Lisanne makes a good point about the importance of learning skills. I think schools should also focus on teaching key job skills, especially soft skills.

    Self-Directed Learning: I think self-directed learning can be very useful and effective. But, students must first have the motivation and ability to make it happen. Maybe teachers could provide introductory instruction to help students get started. In grad school, my university offered a 3-credit self-study option. I had to apply and define the learning objectives, lesson plan, and text book, as well as find my own teacher. There was a lot of prep work, but it was a good experience. I produced something tangible that I felt proud of and learned useful skills.
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      May 30 2013: I absolutely agrees, soft skills are so important in the society and one without them can find it very hard to make a good living. Here in Ontario, Canada the high school curriculum has careers program which helps students with planning career path and job skills such as what you should do during an interview.

      What I really think education should achieve is a motivation and a passion for learning. Many of my friends in high school has no idea what they want, and it's not uncommon. The whole point of giving students more time and opportunities is to help them find that topic they really care about and develops in to a life's passion. Form there, self-directed learning will occur naturally and very effective.
  • May 28 2013: Hi, I too agree a lot with Sir Kenneth. But when he says the purpose of going to school is to learn that leaves me cold--that's almost as semantical as the purpose of reading a book is to study. Nonsense. Firstly anyone who sets out to reform education without a state of the art understanding of how much more we now know about ourselves than what theoreticians did when they committed primitive and dysfunctional assumptions to the Industrial Age Factory model system is part of a new problem and not part of THE solution. You might hear people extol the virtue of educational autonomy today while the very same person may never have heard the word neuroplasticity or if its implications, may have no idea that something we have taken for granted for eons called "sleep" is now known to have biological function tied to neuroplasticity which instead of being addressed with the simple understanding of differences in rates and patterns between individuals makes for need to accommodate individual sleep need differences which have until now been dealt with with medications that seek to artificially tame the brain into the appearance of a "normal attention" span. We know full well that the lecture model is flawed and not in synch with the technology kids can master, yet if they don't acquiesce to mid 20th Century views of normal passive class-room attitudes we brand the child attention deficient and prescribe a med or two or three. I am not against medicine and have benefitted as an adult from SSRIs, but the point is education has to start with getting US right and using the entire time spectrum like you imply to bend developmental apparatus to capture motivation. And motivation must be the horse put before the cart of learning otherwise the model of motivation has not changed from mere yielding of will to avoid consequence. And that is a pitiful motivational model. Everything we think we know about education must be considered disposable in favor of the ideal..
  • May 27 2013: I partially agree with you. School is not just about knowledge, it's also about skills. The last couple of years, I came to see my education as a hurdle to being able to do what I want to do. It's not a facilitator, which I find depressing.
    One of the great complications in education reformation, is in my opinion the emphasis on standardized testing. Not just the curriculum has to be changed, the way we seem to have a need for subject-related scores is detrimental to true education. I get that people want standardized scores to know the potential of a learner, but I think testing can be more focused on learning skills instead of subject-related knowledge that learners have crammed mindlessly.
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      May 27 2013: I totally agrees with you, school plays an important role in education, it's a great place to gain essential skills such a communication and a platform for the curious minds to get together.

      I think I didn't quite express my idea clearly above.

      The point I want to push across here is that school sets too much limitations on students. They designs the curriculum in a way that it feels like it is the one and only path to success in the subject. Using tools such as standardized testing as you said, it really limits other possibilities of different paths to success.

      That's why I wish the curriculum to be redesigned, cut down the content and leave the teacher and students the time to explore other possibilities in the subject and great conversations of ideas. I have been studying in 3 different school systems, and every single one of them are trying to squeeze as much as possible in to the little calendar. The success of teachers seems to be dependent upon the completion of content, rather than the interest and curiosity of students. I mean most teachers are trying to accommodate them, but when the clock is ticking by we have to move on to the next topic.
  • Jun 24 2013: Education is curiosity, sir Ken Robinson education revolution is a spin off of his first talk and offer solutions, doesn't necessarily mean his focus is on school reforms, but a proposition to change our school system, in essence your both stressing the same points.
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    Jun 23 2013: Yes. I definitely agree with what you just said. I've just gave my last year exams at school, coming soon college.
    Here in Pakistan, I'd like to tell you how we (middle class) ordinary citizens take education as; children are sent to school so that they, in the future, are not called as illiterate. Not for learning. High school certificate is more important here than that of the books which are firmly squeezed with information that nobody can demean.

    Want the clear in school or college exams; bribe invigilator (they call it co-operation) a buck, you're done.
  • Jun 22 2013: The passion for knowledge should be taught in school.
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    Jun 11 2013: I find learning fascinating and always try to learn the most out of any topic that seems appealing to me. The point of schools is for motivation, to me anyways. It's hard to force yourself to read and write and repeat for hours on end, but when at school, you're there and it matters for your future so you might as well try.

    I believe that more people would find school both educational and fun if it wasn't forced upon them as such a burden. There is no motivation nor is there any reason for there to be at such a young age when you begin. 7 subjects on average for 8 hours a day at the age of 5 all the way to 25 (assuming extensive college is tacked on) is a terrible way to give people a reason for learning.

    We indeed should give more options and ditch core subjects until students find out what they actually want. I think this isn't done because then people assume that no one will want to learn and get a job if that happens. I believe they are wrong though, kids are well aware that they need a job when they get older. It's just that they should explore options as kids and then they need to have it be more advanced with the mathematics and such later on in life. Kids don't exactly enjoy the idea of becoming a bank teller for the rest of their lives.

    Education is everywhere these days. Books are easily accessible from libraries and book stores and we have the greatest thing technology can offer- the internet- to teach us. It's often assumed that the internet is a false place for information, but that is a giant misunderstanding. You just have to know if it is a trusted or dedicated source. I've learned an entire subject on my own using the internet. People pass up the opportunity to get their dream job because they think they're incapable. Little do they know we have this great thing called the internet which does in fact have information on just about any topic.
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    Jun 11 2013: Thanks everyone for the incredible comments here, it has been absolutely great to hear from you all .
  • May 29 2013: Education is everywhere:)
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      May 30 2013: Right on the point!

      When we talk about education, why it's school and school and school? I know it's important but they are ignoring all other amazing things in life we can learn from.

      Happy learning :D
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    May 28 2013: School can certify mostly , education depends on one's learning agility , keeping that alive for life long is the challenge
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      May 30 2013: That's what I am trying to talk about! A passion for learning that will keep us going no matter we are in school or not. The school system are giving students rather than educating them about how to learn, and the tight curriculum leaves no time and space for them to be excited. It's interesting to see how students are more interested in the subject when things go off topic a little. If we can leave room for those off topic conversations and let students gain interest in the subject, it could develop into a life's passion and motivation of independent learning.

      Thank you for your comment. I'm still figuring out how to present my argument forward and every comment give me a new point to think about the construction of my idea. I love the TED community here, and it is part of my education :P
  • May 28 2013: Magical words include self-learning, polymaths, and autodydacs. So education and intellectual achievement is so much more than school.
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    May 27 2013: I'd have to say that some schools offer better tools to foster the passion for knowledge.

    In a sense, it is about the school.

    Cheers!
    Michael
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    May 27 2013: This may be quite different in different countries. I wonder whether schools in countries that top the charts on assessments that compare students across countries focus more single-mindedly on the details of the subjects that are tested while giving students less freedom than is customary in other countries to select projects that involve their own explorations. I notice you are in Canada, which is a country that does very well on internationally normed examinations.

    Not only can students in some countries construct a program for themselves through their course selections (beyond the basic requirements or to meet basic requirements), but in many places students have many options to choose projects of their own within the common curriculum. For example, do you have science fairs? Opportunities to write for school paper or literary magazine? Choices of which art or music to pursue and which instrument to learn? Do you choose which books to read and share with the class? At this moment my son and a friend are working upstairs on a math project of their choosing which fully occupies the last two weeks of their math class. In the years I have taught secondary math, there was only one year that I did not have students spend several weeks on independent projects with my input.

    I think the value of giving students choices and opportunity to pursue their special interests is very well accepted in the field of education! It seems to me that when I did my student teaching, how well we offered such opportunities was a criterion in our evaluation for readiness to teach.
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      May 30 2013: First of all thank you for leaving your comment here. I've had the idea for a few years and it's exciting for me to know how other people think about it.

      It's great to hear you students loved what they are doing, and such opportunities were build in to the program as a criterion. I hope we can encourage these opportunities in different systems and offer them to students all over the globe.

      When I was attending elementary school in China, every lesson was tightly designed. Questions were only asked by the teachers and answered by students. They don't even ask " Does anyone has questions?" in class, because there was no time for it, and I only realized how strange it was after studying abroad.

      I was lucky to have private lessons by great experienced teachers during weekends, and there I gained all my interest in learning. She showed me the logical thinking behind the questions, and there was no need for equations because I can write them out myself. However my poor friends were board to death by the lessons in school, with tight the schedule no wonder why they didn't like learning.

      Going to high school is even worse, by Grade 12 most students come home at 10PM. The pressure of University entrance exam so is high that forces students to study extra hard. The chinese high school only offer 2 options which students has to choose after first year of high school, Arts or Science. It's a very strange system, and had been criticized by the public for a long time.

      Situation does vary from country to country, but I think schools across the world should in deed give students more opportunity to pursuit their fascination. I've seen so many people in their 20s and have no idea about what to do with their life. I was lucky to have a dream at the age of 16, and that was all because of what I had been doing in my spare time. I hope by giving students more time and opportunities, they could find their life's passion and a motivation for life long learning.
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    May 27 2013: Yuting, I know exactly what you mean when you say, " I become fascinated by the subject itself and uncontrollably wanting to know more about it. "

    And you are wise to acknowledge the limitations of a curriculum, "there is nothing called curriculum there to limit you from learning."

    Your idea just made my day.
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    May 27 2013: Yuting, you are right that curiosity is important. But you also need solid skills in order to do something with your curiosity. This could be a value of school, that it gives you those solid skills.

    You do get to follow your interests in school. You do get to choose some of your classes, some people emphasize art, some science, some athletics. What is your major interest?
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      May 27 2013: Sorry that I didn't make my point clear, I do believe schools are important, and there is no way I would deny how much I have gained from schools. My point is while the students are learning the foundations of the subject and building up skills as they progress, they should be given more freedom to explore what interests them no matter what the curriculum says. More importantly, once they are curious about the subject, they will learn the knowledge and skills very fast.

      The subjects in school do provide a great starting point, however it is not enough. There so many different specific areas within a subject that people find different interests in. In a Art class for example, some might realize they love painting, and other may find themselves enjoying sculpture. And them there are different types of painting, and they could paint different objects. Once they found out what they love, they will turn around and nagging the teachers to learn about colour, texture, how to use different brushes, what artists are working on similar topics. Because they want to know, when they are painting they realize how important those skills and knowledges are and therefore they will learn it. They understand by learning those some what "boring" things could make their painting much better, they will enjoy the process of learning compared to before.
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        May 28 2013: Yes, good point, Yuting. I'm not a great person to comment on this as in school I was a conformist, I just did what they told me. But there is something to be said for being exposed to a broad range of things, you might think you only like one aspect of art but if the teacher forces you to try some other kinds, you might find that you like them and are good at them. You might even find you prefer them to the one you originally you thought you only liked. But maybe not.

        I would think someone who got intensely interested in one thing could go to their teacher and talk about their passion for this one thing and ask for permission to concentrate on it. Maybe the teacher will say yes, go ahead and concentrate. If the teacher says no, I would gently make the teacher state their reason, I would say, but I love this one kind of art because I think I can only make beauty in this one kind, or I love how the brush feels in my hand, and see what the teacher says to that. If you are dissatisfied with the reason they give for wanting you to try all the kinds of art, go over their head, go to the principal. Or you can wait and go back to them again later and say you are still finding the other kinds of art unsatisfactory. But you have to be very clear on why you prefer this one kind of art, and you have to reply very specifically to their counterargument. What are you going to say if they say, I, the teacher, think it would be better for you to try many things?

        If you are really unhappy, you could get an early release from high school and start attending college. Or go to work.