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Paul McCarthy

Director - UCLA Martial Arts Program, Inosanto International Martial Arts Instructors Association

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Talent pool being robbed in schools

Food for thought, do you think that Beardyman learned to do all that in school...which standardized test gave him the ability to make whatever sound he likes from his voice!? His school education probably had nothing to do with it, following his passion for life probably had everything to do with it. Imagine how many other talented people there are out there being stifled by a shockingly closed minded education system that cuts music, sport and arts programs faster than we cut down the rainforest!

http://www.ted.com/talks/beardyman_the_polyphonic_me.html

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    Aug 22 2013: Absolutely!

    Plato once said this, "I would teach children music, physics, and philosophy; but most importantly music, for the patterns in music and all the arts are the keys to learning.” The roots of all the problems of the modern and post modern society lie in our defunct, redundant, and dehumanizing society. In the pursuit of science and technology, we have forgotten the vital element of being human and humane. I do not know about the global condition, but the schools and colleges in India are busy producing weak-minded, senseless tech savvy intellectuals who lack the basic capacity to appreciate the beauty of simple things in life. No wonder we are all running after the ever illusive state of being wealthy, beautiful and happy. We are not just killing the creativity and individuality of our children, but also ensuring that they pass on the same mindless legacy to their children.

    I could go on and on about how our education system is prematurely killing the only chance that humankind has to vindicate their rightful position as the crowning jewel of God's beautiful creation, but we all know better than to sit and point out the faults in the system. The system needs to go. It's too late to bother changing it; what we need is an entirely new system. Something that makes us who we are: humans, and not mere mortals!
  • Aug 5 2013: No but read his Bio, when he was 10 he was allowed to write a symphony for his school orchestra. I agree the general k-12 is a checklist education today but there are schools which try to support the growth of talent but they are few. The American schools are designed to turn out "average" graduates.
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    Aug 23 2013: We are all born in that environment where we are immediately taught how to best conform to the norm and standard of the society, and education system with its curriculum short-circuit our creativity. But that's the foundation we are born into and somehow it gives us the basic understanding to better make certain decisions and one of those is the ability to see that we are not born to conform but to pursue our natural passion in life.
    If it wasn't for this dysfunctional system, some of us wouldn't have woken up from our sleep and now it's up to everyone who is awake to wake up others as well. Following your passion is the only avenue that will enable fulfillment to manifest in your life.
    • Aug 23 2013: Thank you sir, very eloquently put :)
    • Aug 30 2013: well said, and I qoute "and education system with its curriculum short-circuit our creativity" unqoute If only the foundation was the basics of using miximum brain capacity not to control ones way of thinking and of doing things.
  • Aug 4 2013: I agree.
    There is a severe lack of understanding or call it ignorance in the areas of education, but I'd say more so int he areas of understanding education and understanding psychology. As a result we have insanity and ignorance in our major corporations and governments which is costing humanity and the Earths environments such destruction that we humanity is in a race to come to our senses in time before we possibly completely destroy our current civilization or possibly even render it uninhabitable – that would be the ultimate flunk.
    At the very least encourage communication, as this way we can reach more minds, more brilliant minds that can would assist in winning the race for true responsible human beings.
    Thank you.
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    Sep 2 2013: As for "talent" and education, in both Canada and the U.S. the sole purpose of an education is simply to get a job, nothing else. And as long as this narrow-minded agenda drives their educational curriculums "talent" matters ONLY if it can be exploited by some employer, otherwise any other non-employment related "talents" are deemed irrelevant and detrimental to the 'bottom line' of education.
    Therefore the first place to start is with a nation's emphasis or purpose of that education. It is my opinion that The 'talents' required to be an effective and caring parent or an independent thinker or an of the other skill and abilities that can enrich both the individual and the communities they live in are far more valuable to that nation than any mere employment opportunities. .
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      Sep 3 2013: I can't speak for Canadian schools, but in general, American public schools are not purposed to getting student to get a job. The jobless rates among young people is approaching my age.... not a good thing.
      Again, there are some very successful schools, but too many are not. In too many school districts they are abysmal failures. There are a number of excuses, Uninvolved or no parents, ethnic disinterest in education, minorities with unsocial attitudes, mental or physical handicaps, etcetra ad nauseum. There has always been these issues. Why are schools failing now and were more successful in the past.
  • Aug 31 2013: Check out the UNT One O'Clock Lab band on youtube.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MR_rb7vsi6Q
    Education and the arts and music is alive and well in our country. You just have to know where to look. Feel free to donate your time and money to any program you can find at the elementary, high school and college level. Try to be a part of the solution and not just the masses who sit back, complain about the way things are and do not do anything about it. If you work with a company that does matching funds, donate and double or triple your donations. Support people who support music education and the arts. Encourage school boards to have a balanced view of education and you will see places that do it all, sports, football teams, soccer, swim teams, marching bands, concert bands, symphonic bands, jazz bands, art, theater, and the other areas of education.
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      Sep 1 2013: Mark,
      Absolutely. There are schools, mostly charter and private schools, who are providing great programs in the arts and sciences and do receive additional support from private individuals and companies.
      But...
      Public school systems receive an extraordinary monies from school taxes on property in most states. Then states provide even more funds from lotteries and other state resources. Finally, there is additional funding from Federal sources. I have not been able to find the numbers on these funds, but it has to be serious money.
      So, here is my problem, since the schools starting asking for more funds then provided by property taxes some 50 years ago, our public education has fallen to one of the lowest rates of industrial nations.
      25% percent who enter school never finish. 25% complete high school and are functionally illiterate.
      25% do get some education at least enough to pass state exams. Then there are those who appear to do well and excel at schools and go on to do great things in life. I often wonder is it was because of going to public school or in spite of going to public school.
      Here is the question. Why is America not getting more out of this huge investment in public education?
      With the investments being made, our children should be graduating from high school with PhDs.
  • Aug 31 2013: Any school system, run by an organization or government, is tasked with educating large masses of people. In some countries, the group is smaller and only part of the population, in other countries, like the US, every child is mandated to be educated to the same level. In order to do this, standardized systems must be in place.

    Look at Korea and Japan and the fervor over testing, yet many in the world compliment Korea on its focus on education.

    Education provides every child the opportunity to learn how to read, write, and do math as well as learn about life to the extent that they desire to do so and are capable of doing so. In the US that is EVERY child. Top to bottom, rich to poor, smart to less so, special needs or normal. Every kid that walks through the door. There is not good way to do that other than putting forth a generally standardized system. And most do succeed and are successful. Not to the level that everyone wants, but really, they have the skills to survive in the world at a basic level.

    Do you want specialized programs that single out groups of kids? The government isn't into individualizing to that extent because it is really hard and ultimately looks a lot like tracking based on race or financial level. Even thought it may be a lack of parent support or interest on the kids.

    On the other side, creative kids succeed. Why? Because they are motivated to do so. Good teachers encourage that creativity. Good teachers still support learning and the joy of creativity, even though they are forced to stay on track with standards and mandated testing. And motivated kids succeed. Those who aren't motivated, for whatever reason, don't achieve as highly.

    So please, consider all the other factors in a kids life, like family situation and finances or parent motivation when saying that schools are doing so hot...
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    Aug 29 2013: Gee. I really enjoyed school, learning, reading, MATH, science, etc. I don't see the problem. It's understood by many teachers that those students that want to succeed will. Those that don't, won't. Building the motivation to be successful in school -if possible- should start at home.

    After a couple of centuries of teaching students, in the U.S., teachers have developed many methods of passing along knowledge. What they haven't done is find a way around that old adage: "You can lead a horse to water but you can't make it drink"

    If, there were only two job offers in life: Scientist or labor, there would still be plenty of students who would opt to drop out of school. It's sad but true. For what ever reason, some students don't want to learn.

    Talent is rarely subdued by schools. A student who likes to juggle balls will find the time and energy to perfect their talent. So it is with singing. School does not compromise the totality of a students life. They have the rest of the day to practice. That is how many fine musicians are self-developed.

    Most of what I learned was done on my own time, after school while the other students decided to play or watch TV. It's up to each individual student to decide what they want in life and how to pursue it. Most teachers will make sure such a student has all the information and help they can offer. The rest, can enjoy their Ipods, TV and skate-boarding.

    I reviewed the transcript of the Beardyman video and could not find any mention of the word school. Other than displaying a very talented person, the video does not offer any support to the question being asked.
  • Aug 27 2013: I know that for me I enjoy learning. The problem with these standardized tests and their importance to where you go in life, sets up so much stress behind learning that now I am not learning to learn but because I need to pass a test. It's frustrating and completely stresses me out knowing that if I make to many mistakes or my academic life and thus my life goes down the drain.

    Why can't I just learn without the stress?
    • Aug 27 2013: Great point Daniel, you can just learn without the stress, but when you come through a system that puts so much importance on passing grades you lose that love of just learning! One thing I tend to see in younger generations also is once they leave college and get a job they sit back and become a passive individual with few hobbies or goals...almost as if life is over and now its time to sit back and relax! Your entire life is a learning experience...challenge yourself, set goals, achieve what you always wanted to do....got get a black belt in a martial art, learn to dance the Salsa and compete!? Go build a house for someone less fortunate than you or put what you learned in school to use for the less fortunate...trust me you can learn alot from just giving back and continuing to do it for the rest of your life will allow you to look back and be impressed with your life of learning :)

      P.
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      Aug 28 2013: I love to learn Daniel, but I detest modern education.

      Why?

      Because forced learning, along with the spoon feeding of facts to be later regurgitated, is not true learning. It is a broken system and absolutely kills curiosity and innovation.

      This is not to say we don't need to learn the basics. It's all about how you go about it, and the current system of babysitter teachers (and professors) in a controlled, high stress, and standardized environment is detrimental to humanity. It detrimental to those who teach. It's unnatural and counter-productive to sustained knowledge. We have to change this, or we'll find ourselves in a world of incapable individuals struggling to dream again.
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      Aug 29 2013: In your country, in how many years of high school do you actually need to take standardized tests? I ask this because in the US, I believe at the high school level there is typically only one mandated standardized test for the four years of high school. In my state it is at 10th grade only, and parents can opt you out, unless you include the optional Advanced Placement tests attached to college level courses done in high school for which students want to get college credit. Any further testing is a more decentralized decision, like at the State or district level.

      I know in some countries there is a single comprehensive standardized test at the end of high school, but there is not one in the United States.
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    Aug 26 2013: Fritzie, I really envy the freedom of choice that Americans enjoy. Sadly, all that you have mentioned doesn't and isn't going to happen in India. PTAs are almost non-existent in school here. Parents never even show up at schools, most teachers are too busy with private tuitions to bother about community involvement, and students are too burdened with tuitions and homework to voice their opinions.

    In country where most parents dream of their child becoming either a doctor or an engineering, and where an average child is forced to attend at least 6 hours of private tutions in addition to regular school hours, you simply cannot reason with the parents to give their children some breathing space. Parents and teachers over here hardly speak grammatically correct English, and care less about the child's learning process as long their grades are good.

    The system here works this way. The teachers don't teach well in school. They just finish the syllabus by either reading out the chapters or dictating notes. The only way to pass is to go to the individual subject teachers' homes after school hours for private tuitions. The teachers give away the question papers in the tuition on the eve of the examinations. The children pass with good marks. The parents are happy, the children are happy and the teachers are the happiest. All that matters here in India are good grades on our certificates.

    I speak boldly because I have taught in various schools across the country for over three years, and I have seen the same system everywhere. In India, a change from within the system will never work because the system is cancerous. Anyone entering the system is bound to be corrupted by it. Just imagine earning lakhs just by giving a few hours of private tuitions everyday. Most teachers can't resist that temptation!

    We need a change from outside. I still haven't figured it out but I know that the entire system has to go, and a new one has to be put in place. A change won't do anymore!
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      Aug 26 2013: I have learned something about India's educational system through a course I took recently with a specialist in this area. Professor Banarjee and his associates at MIT have been studying possible interventions, though their interest is particularly in the very poor.

      As he and his team are serious about practical research-based change strategies, you may be interested in looking at some of their work and the organizations in India with which they have partnered. Look up Banarjee at MIT

      Not only do schools in the US have active PTSAs, as you suggest, but the standard in public schools is for parents to be engaged in influencing school and district decisions at many levels. The most educated parents tend to be most vocal individually, but community organizations representing those who might independently have less access also speak loudly for what they believe all students need.

      There is tremendous grassroots involvement, with lots of conflicting ideas as to how best to run schools, curriculum, pedagogy, assessment and so forth. Everyone wants to provide kids with good literacy, critical thinking skills, creative opportunities, tools for effective collaboration with peers, and the dispositions to learn over the lifetime, but there are serious disagreements as to how best to do this. I don't know how common this is, but parents have for many years been able to opt their kids out of standardized tests(required grades 3-8 and once in high school.

      Here is an article about the opt out movement http://articles.washingtonpost.com/2013-04-14/local/38537469_1_no-child-students-such-testing
      Teachers at one large public high school in my city simply refused to give the annual standardized test, the parent organization there wrote the superintendent and school board in support of that position, and the District administration went along with their demand.
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    Aug 25 2013: nothing destroys a good curriculum or school system faster and harder than the archaic assessment systems that so many bureaucrats insist on using - why? for ease of data gathering. for convenience.

    as a result, the arts are virtually dead in many schools simply because the system is at a loss as to how to measure "added value", progress or rank the artist/student.

    there are good schools out there and there are excellent teachers who are able to see beyond the percentages and pathetic ranking systems and do foster talent when they see it.

    but keep in mind, that talent is not usually acknowledged or rewarded until it makes lots of money or becomes widely known and that is an issue that goes beyond education and includes all of society.
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      Aug 26 2013: you've made a great point about what we end up labelling as "talent": does it have economic use? school has deemed a handful of skillsets and activities as worthy. beardyman and many innovators on TED have by luck or by pluck managed to market their unique skills well. we love an entrepreneur who has increased our sense of possibilities.

      but would we ever deem a non-TED speaker: someone who is merely kind, helpful and empathetic as worthy of our attention and admiration? (i don't mean to allude to the reality show 'celebrities' who are admired for really nothing at all). talent matters in an economic enviroment. does it matter in a context where happiness and kindness are valued most?
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        Aug 26 2013: talent is appreciated by others when it makes the talented person rich or famous.

        but fostering a creative urge or artistic desire or talent matters immensely to the individual.

        i have a band. we play original music. we are not famous nor are we particularly rich but we still get it together to play live shows.

        for me, live performance is a stress-release, an expression of energy that i cannot get from other parts of life and songwriting and performing allows me to put my ideas out there in a mode i love. i can say without a doubt that it has saved me from mind-numbing boredom and insanity. it gets me up in the morning.
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          Aug 27 2013: i think many serious hobbyists are as blissfully happy as you are. if this is the currency for your life, then you are swimming in it, unbeknownst to the over-leveraged, over-stressed money-chasing crowd. if it's any extra feather in your cap, i once went on a date with a stock broker who made $4 M a year (very smart and actually very kind) who said: "You see this lemon? Every day, my job squeezes the life out of me like this juice in the lemon. And at the end of the day, it is only measurable by money." YIKES! lol
      • Aug 27 2013: and for every ted speaker there are hundreds of thousands of people doing the hard work behind it all. i've seen so many great ideas on ted, and precious few put into actual practice. simple solar collectors, electricity generating kites, ct scanners that can run by themselves with computers analysing the output, where are they? no-one is building them.

        actually achieving something is about a flash, and then a lot of hard work, to paraphrase someone who actually did bring his ideas to use in the world. these days people are all so caught up creativity like it's the best thing in the world, when really it's just a small part of a process.
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          Aug 27 2013: good point: the hard workers / behind the scenes dudes are not recognized enough.

          though, i think ted is good with choosing people who have actually done something. i like it when a great speaker is backed up by dirty hands. i find that in these cases, their stories are more enriched, their philosophy is clearer, their humility often shows and many of them allude to a bigger team. it's not as impressive when a speaker just has a point--or wrote a book or observed something.

          the long slog to implementing a great thing is where schools really can help. finish what you start. see a project through to the end. you're right, the rottweiler tenacity to get something done: to navigate bureaucracies, politics, paperwork, lawsuits, fluctuating markets etc. is the real superstar skillset.
      • Aug 31 2013: right, creativity is the easy part, making it work in the real world is what's hard. school do their best to make sure kids will be able to acquire and utilise skills that will ground and complement their creativity, and i think many people mistakenly see this as killing creativity. creativity still has to be realistic.
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    Aug 25 2013: Case in point. In the 1800's there was a young lad whose family income allowed him the freedom to roam far and wide through the countryside endlessly observing and being fascinated by all the wonders of Nature that he encountered. But there came a time when his father insisted he stop his frivolous wanderings, go to college and become either a doctor like dad or a religious scholar. At college the lad shone in his botany classes and was recommended for a position as the onboard Naturalist for a voyage to some pacific islands. The boat was the Beagle, the islands were the Galapagos' and the lad was Charles Darwin.
    Who could argue that the freedom and opportunity Darwin enjoyed as a youth to explore the countryside as often as he wished helped lay the foundation for his later works and evolutionary - pun intended - discoveries? Or that the mentoring of his botanist grandfather and college professors lead to his being on the Beagle when the ship was laid up in a south American port for repair? Or the synchronicity of Darwin seeking out some refreshments at a local tavern where he soon found himself being regaled by a local of islands with all kinds of similar but different looking birds and animals, the Galapagos Islands.
    In other words, what if we simply invested in humanity's innate intelligence and adequately supply the money, freedom, knowledge, resources, and opportunities to our students that would allow them to find their own way of contributing and participating, what wonders then might they manifest?
  • Aug 24 2013: This is a very good point and I want to just make one point that may get a lot of mixed feedback but I think is important. As this post is related to Ken Robinson I hope you are familiar with something he says in his videos about the school education system killing creativity. "The school system is not broken, its out of date" the school system was designed to take in people with a lot of talent and potential and turn them into tools to work towards a bigger part of society which no longer exists. The school system doesn't just supress talent it trains it out of people by teaching everyone the same thing with the same amount of emphasis on the same subjects, no matter where the pupils talents lie. Its not designed to create gifted children, its not even designed to make educated adults. Its designed to make tools for a job

    ~ Learning isn't, being taught. Learning Is being allowed to express
  • Aug 24 2013: you might have a point but we have to be very careful not to go overboard. the world is full of people who aren't successful in music, art, etc, and think the reason for their lack of success is others' inability to recognise their talent, when actually it's just because they're not much good (for more, read up on the dunning-kruger effect). i think stifling delusions of talent is a really good thing, it gives people a chance to move on and find what they actually are good at, though as you said, we also need to be sure to recognise actual talent. there's a reason why we have the idiom 'starving artist'.
    • Aug 25 2013: Great point Ben, I see that alot over here, parents spending thousands on either a sport/instrument/talent that the kid is clearly not gifted in but they fail to see it and at the same time have blinders on so they cannot see what their children's real talents are! So many kids are pushed to get over a 4.0 in high school, get accepted to the best (and most expensive) universities to become doctors or lawyers (because there is a shortage of Lawyers in the US!! ;) the kids go through life thinking that they actually 'want' to be a lawyer...which I think is very strange!
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    Aug 23 2013: the need for creativity is inherit in every educational discipline. We continue to look for the preferable silver bullet to fix an antiquated educational system .Measuring success and/or failures using a sheet of test scores numbers...no I can't wrap my brain around that logic. How about taking a look at curriculum, how about taking a look at what keeps a kid engaged with his/her education? I would guess that about 20% of a school's population would choose math, sciences, etc. Baseball, dance, theater, football, music, creative writing, sketching, soccer, etc.,etc.,etc...highlight of their day,and worth showing up for and maybe keeping up grades? one more thought.......the traditional size of a H.S. population is far too large
    • Aug 24 2013: it depends on how the test is done. if it's just a test of how many and how well facts have been remembered then you're right, but test questions that require understanding and actual thought process are very valuable. remember that the standardized test (thought up and written by people who have never even been teachers, no less) is a modern invention, not antiquated.
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        Aug 24 2013: Thanks for the reply. A great conversation. The problem with testing is the notion that the students and teachers individual achievement are a direct link to testing scores. What happened to curriculum and instruction? This data should be used for improvement not accountability. A large part of our public educational system is funded by a community’s property tax. State and federal funding don’t cover the bill. With all the financial strife community members are experiencing, to get a vote of “yes” to increase property tax rates that just covers the increase in fixed expenses, well is a battle all too often lost. So, where is a school budget cut? Teaching positions and curriculum.. The Arts, and Sports, (some communities have a pay-to-play policy too many families cannot afford). Additionally, the cost of procuring a contract with a for- profit company to produce not only the test but prep materials surely costs millions. Who foots the bill? The state and the expenses are passed on to local school districts receiving less funding.Ben, every time there is a shortage in funding, curriculum that supports the beautifully and much needed creative talent is cut.
        • Aug 25 2013: "This data should be used for improvement not accountability" - I think this is a very poignant point. This pic demonstrates it well, where the attitude of the parents has shifted from their responsibility to making the child do well in school to complete lack of accountability on their part and blaming the teacher.

          http://www.cagle.com/2010/04/teachers-in-1960-and-2010-color/

          Teachers should be supported alot more and not judged by scores that have no connection to how much effort and aptitude they put into their teaching.
        • Aug 26 2013: i think teachers' and students' individual achievement should be linked to test scores, but the important part is what that test is actually testing. eg in chemistry a bad question would be 'what colour does litmus turn in a low pH solution?' because all it tests is whether or not the student can remember a fact which is easily looked up anyway, while a better question would be 'why is it important to test for the pH of a solution?' as it demands the understanding of a concept and its implication.

          also people have to get over the idea of 'bad' test scores. a low score is as useful as a high score as it tells both student and teacher that the student hasn't yet grasped concepts and either needs special tuition (if it's basic knowledge, necessary for living in the real world) or to shift into another course to try to find something the student will be better suited to. it's ridiculous for students to get upset at receiving a low score and even more ridiculous for parents, unless it's because their son or daughter hasn't been making enough effort.
        • Aug 26 2013: paul: too right, accountability to who? education dept bureaucrats? the school board? psychologists? all people who have never taught and cannot possibly accurately evaluate an actual teacher. even if it was a principal, they don't teach either!
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      Aug 24 2013: Mary, you've got a lot of things right. It really does not make sense to have a standardized testing system based on how much a child can or cannot remember. We are only testing the the retention capacity of the brain and not the creative power. Human beings are not machines that need to go through a standardized test to receive the OK TESTED badge in the form of a school certificate (reminds me of the toys that I had as a kid with those little round stickers that say OK TESTED). It's really demeaning to think that we make out children go through such a rigorous process just to prove them fit in the eyes of the modern capitalist world!

      Ben you are absolutely right about having more conceptual and analytic questions in contrast to factual questions. I wish those bigheads who sit in cozy offices and shape our education system spent some time actually teaching in a school to understand what's really happening at the grassroots. But we can't blame them entirely. We teachers and educators leave the policy making to these Ivy League scholars. Unless we take things in our hands and play an active role in shaping our education system, it's not going to change for the good anytime soon.

      Besides sharing ideas, I believe we need to get together and do something tangible about the situation. Doesn't matter where we come from, education needs a new system worldwide! Individually we may not count, but together we can force our governments and bureaucrats to stop playing with the lives of our children. If we sit back with our hands folded, these children will just become a part of the system, and the vicious cycle would go on, until someone braver and more determined than us stands up to it.
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        Aug 24 2013: I agree Rohit, standard testing is really a test of memory. more often then not. when a student is tested in the class room regarding a particular lesson, once tested I would suggest that about 50% (?) of learning is discarded.
        Rohit I also strongly agree that all this countless educational mandates created by "these ivy league scholars " should come with a prerequisite to procure the job; Minimum of 3 months in the class room teaching assignments to include observation by school officials. Then, at the end of a school year a standardize test relating to the subject(s) they taught be given.

        The only way I see to combat this and "take things in our own hands" is far greater community engagement, Parents, teachers and yes even students.
      • Aug 25 2013: Someone else mentions this above...what does the change look like? What are the actions we can take. Does anyone have any tangible ideas on what to do. Right now I am only in the stage of educating myself more about the system and its faults. How can we make the changes that all teachers agree need to happen? I think a nice first step is to somehow get more money into the education system and here in California it all goes to the prison systems! :(
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          Aug 25 2013: The challenge is inherit when educating our young...... The return on investment is not immediate. It's an investment in our future, all of us. Not enough people can relate to leaving a legacy when speaking to a community, a state nor a nation.
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          Aug 26 2013: Paul, it's wonderful that you are educating yourself about our mediocre education system, but let me remind you that true education always involves change. Change in ourselves, and a change is our immediate surrounds:could be the system, people around us, etc. Unless we reflect this change, we aren't benefiting from our learning process.

          We mustn't wait for the right time or to equip ourselves with the right amount of knowledge before we step into the arena. We have to be a part of that ongoing change. As we learn and change, we have to influence our environment and initiate a change without too!

          The US is still better off than some countries like India, where all the money ends up in the pockets of corrupt politicians and government officials. You wouldn't believe me if I had to describe the education system over here, unless you experience it yourself. Well, no matter where we come from, the education system needs a new face. The phenomenon is global, and I guess it's somehow linked to the modern technology-driven civilization.
      • Aug 26 2013: thanks daniel. the only thing i'd add is that creativity isn't everything and can actually be a negative - creativity needs to be tempered by a solid understanding of reality. eg gravity doesn't care how creative a building design is, it'll bring anything not designed with a solid understanding of basic forces crashing down!
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          Aug 26 2013: Exactly Ben!

          The aim of our education system should be to teach us how to use our creativity in the most efficient way that would benefit humankind at large and not just give personal satisfaction. Alas! Our education is just turning us into selfish, career-driven, money-minded shortsighted individuals. We have to bring back the humanity in our education!
      • Aug 27 2013: actually that's not what i meant. i mean we should learn the unavoidable basics first, then learn to apply those things creatively. back to the building analogy, you can't start with making it look like a giraffe. what you first need is to plan the plumbing and elevator shafts, then you can start to work on some creative look for it. the torsion force on a length of steel has nothing to do with our humanity.
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    Aug 22 2013: " A child is not a vase to be filled but a fire to be ignited"
    I am from India and am in my 12th grade. I just wanna share my suffering.
    In India we have great institutions called IIT. Whose entrance exams probably are one of the world's toughest. And taking that as a great advantage, people here run IIT prep colleges and bask in 100 of millions USD easily and unfortunately i attend one of those.
    So my day starts in college at 7:30 and lasts till 6 in the evening. Where we have 4 hours of maths class, 2 1/2 hours of physics and chemistry daily from Monday to Saturday. And on Sundays we have a 6 hours exams.
    And me being highly liberal and a protestant to this always end up being disliked by the teachers and authority.
    meanwhile using this as a opportunity i imagine and scribble down my ideas, which i feel are path breaking ( some what like elon musk's thinking). So i simply wanna stop out of this education system... To do as so i am applying for thiel fellowship this year with a hope that i can concentrate more on my ideas and make 'em a reality... Wish me best of luck ... Thanx :D
    • Aug 22 2013: Good luck Siddharth and Thank you for your story! I agree with your premise, the cost of education in the US is extortionate and my feelings are like yours in that the cost of it is not in any way close to the benefits. Here one can spend over $200,000 on a big name school, or spend a fraction at a less well known school and get a similar education. What many students do is attend a community college and transfer credits over in the last year to get the big name diploma...Unfortunately education is a business in American as opposed to an investment in its population like many other countries. Never let your ideas disappear work on them and invest in them and if you get an opportunity to expand them take it.....Bill Gates and Steve Jobs never finished college....imagine if they had not followed their dreams and ignored their opportunities just to finish something that society deems the best way forward!
  • Aug 8 2013: An excellent view of the US Education system vs. the Nordic education systems.

    http://iwastesomuchtime.com/on/?i=70585
  • Aug 6 2013: Does education kill creativity? The answer should be, it does, for some people. Because the current education has certain traits: more emphasis on certain subjects; limited measuring methods to discover students' potentials besides tests and grades, etc. To improve on this here's what I can think of:

    1. Detection of personal talent at earlier stage
    At school we need to find ways to let children be themselves and do the things they most interested by showing them whole set of possibilities.

    2. More variety of education choices
    Once they discovered their true interests we can send them to the relevant education system, e.g dance school, art school etc. And here parents' understanding and tolerance is very important. Some parents projected their own ambition on their children to pursue the un-fullfilled dream of theirs, at the cost of killing kids' creativity and potential.

    3. Good Career orientation
    One thing why school gives more value for certain subjects such as math it's because mastering Math seems to be the foundation stone to find a job.But it's really not that relevant if you choose to graduate from an art school.

    In a nutshell, injects more variety and tolerance into our current education system will yield more talented people.
    • Aug 6 2013: I like the early identification of talent, because it means there is a conscious effort to looking for talent, but I do no think that kids should be sent to subject specific schools. That would probably mean a flip around of the problem. Kids who go to schools that focus on just art would miss a whole range of topics that they might have grown into. Each school needs to have a broad curriculum and the way the subjects are taught needs to be completely overhauled. Sir Ken talks about if a business was run like a school it would fail within months. Sorting employees out by age and not skillset, making them get up run around and find a new classroom every hour would deplete productivity significantly etc....take a look at why we do this (because of the industrial revolution) then change it to the technological revolution and see what happens....

      Thank you for your comment! :)
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    Aug 5 2013: The starting point of educational reform begins with the educational agenda. That is to say, mass education was first created only a couple hundred years ago in order to serve the needs of industry and commerce, nothing else. Huge numbers of people that could read, write and perform simple math were desperately needed to read the blueprints, run the machines and, especially, to record the profits, expenses and inventories.

    Consequently, even today the sole purpose of an "education" is simply to make people employable, to get jobs, and to have careers. NOT to create an informed, or empowered people. In other words, modern day education is not meant to serve the student but simply to serve and promote the needs and interests of industry and commerce, nothing else.

    A real, honest "education" would have at the core of the curriculum subjects such as developing effective communication and problem solving skills, understanding the structure and purpose of governance, the many forms and faces of democracy and how to exercise control over one's institutions (as opposed to one's institutions exercising control over the population). In other words, education, real education would both empower and inform the student and would start with the needs, interests and skills of the student rather than simply ensuring they will make good little employees at the end of the process.
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      Aug 5 2013: People often make this claim to each other, but it seems inconsistent to me with what schools that I have seen focus on. I see a definite focus on developing critical thinking, problem-solving, and effective communication in the sense of reading comprehension, speaking, and writing and that progress is assessed in reference to those areas.
      • Aug 5 2013: Mr. Reisner where do you see a focus in education on developing critical thinking, problem solving and effective communication? Because according to one of the worlds experts on education (Sir Ken Robinson) it is lacking throughout most of the world. Businesses are screaming for open minded critical thinkers and the education system is not producing them. Which means the education system is failing to "produce" employable people and therefore not serving industry and commerce Mr. Clegg.
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          Aug 5 2013: I know Kenneth Robinson makes this claim and it may capture schools in some places but it is not consistent with what I have seen in curriculum and instruction in urban schools.
      • Aug 5 2013: SIR Ken Robinson does claim this and has quite a bit of information to back it up. It does not include every single education system, but it does include most. Again where are you seeing that the education system is not failing our youth? What urban schools are you talking about and do you have examples that span multiple states/countries/areas....if not your observations may not be as indicative as Sir Ken's research....
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          Aug 5 2013: Schools have a long way to go in educating all youth to desirable standards, but in my experience as a curriculum specialist, I see that most of the conversation about curriculum and pedagogy in schools in the United States focuses on how to develop critical thinking, problem-solving, communication skills, and skills in learning itself.

          The best way of making your own informed judgment may be to look at curriculum and standards for whichever state you live in and see where the emphasis is in what these documents articulate as the goals for students.

          I am less informed about education and curriculum in the rest of the world.

          I am familiar with Robinson's talks and popular writing but have not seen any scholarly research.
      • Aug 5 2013: I live in the states and it is one of the worst offenders. A curriculum and set of standards does not measure the outcomes of critical thinking, problem solving and communication skills. Standardized tests do not have the ability to do this and most standardized tests (including the IQ and SAT tests) are flawed in their calculations! A good teacher can teach critical thinking, problem solving and communication regardless of curriculum...the curriculum does not determine the level of these skills. The ability of a teacher to engage with their students does. When a teacher is constrained to follow standardized curriculum in such a manner that it prevents them from really teaching subjects as opposed to just pushing data down kids throats. The true art of teaching is being able to pull something from children not to see how much you can stuff in.
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          Aug 5 2013: I definitely recommend your looking further into what schools and teachers are actually trying to do.

          I believe the idea that teachers are just trying to push data down kids' throats is a popular misconception about schools and teaching.
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    Sep 2 2013: George Wilsons, if you are asking about starting a conversation the process is closed for the summer. Giving lots of time to edit and refine :)
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    Sep 1 2013: what happened to the TED,I cant post my own conversations any more,can you ? Do you know why?
  • Sep 1 2013: Check out these links. This is a public school. Check out the band and search for them on the internet and youtube. Check out their international baccalaureate program.

    http://schoolctr.hebisd.edu/education/school/school.php?sectiondetailid=10

    http://ldbellband.org

    http://schoolctr.hebisd.edu/education/dept/dept.php?sectionid=2357

    We have some great public, charter and private schools in our country. We have some terrible ones too. Here in our state inner city public schools cannot deal with all the problems parents drop off on their door steps. Private and charter schools do not exist in the poor inner city areas. We have some charter schools that have owners who underpay teachers and take cruises and trips to Europe and expense their trips as business saying they are on fact finding missions to improve their charter schools. Seriously, who believes this? We have private schools that encourage ignorant parents not to vaccinate their children resulting in outbreaks of measles and other preventable diseases.

    I would caution everyone to be very careful about education statistics and trying to compare our education system with those of other countries. One big reason is because most of the other countries that have better education systems than we do, do not have the geography we do and they do not have the population we do. Try comparing our countries education system with other countries that have land areas similar to ours and populations similar to ours or larger and see how we compare to those countries or take the entire continent of Europe and combine all of their education information before trying to make a comparison.

    I would encourage anyone who is critical of our public school system to sign up to substitute teach so that you can see what it takes to try to teach children. I had the opportunity to do this and it was a real eye opener for me. We should support our teachers and help them be successful. What have you done for one lately?
  • Sep 1 2013: I think the education equation is teacher + student + parents = education. Unfortunately, with the changes in our culture and society that now have the divorce rate so high and that now have two parents working to be able to afford to raise a family, the parents continue to drop out of the equation and if 1+1+2=4 then 1+1+1=3 of 1+1+0=2 and both of the second equations add up to less no matter what we spend and no matter whether we try to educate our children in public, charter or private schools.

    In the state I live in the politicians have attacked the public school systems and teachers claiming they are like a group of people with tenure in union like organizations who are not interested in teaching but instead interested in seeing how much they can get for how little they produce. Blaming teachers for the moral and cultural decay of our society in the form of the break down of the family unit is ludicrous. I suppose it is easier to blame the teachers than to take responsibility for our own lives and our own choices.

    Young people get pregnant in and out of wedlock. The minute life gets hard they split up instead of keeping a marriage together for the good of the children, selfish individuals break up and quite often fight over their children or completely abandon them.

    The state of Texas kept over $5 billion dollars of tax money in a rainy day fund 3 years ago during the height of our economic down turn. Local school districts without state funds laid off over 10,000 teachers across the entire state. Two years later the rainy day fund through investments had grown to close to $8 billion dollars. It is irresponsible to collect taxes and not invest them in our school districts, counties and cities in our state but instead to invest these public monies in Wall Street. Now 3 years later our state government has given some of these billions back to our schools, counties and cities. More damage has been done as new teachers are hired to clean up the mess.
  • Sep 1 2013: Yes, the School system does damage to the natural talent of a person. It suppresses the talent and creativity by using various external forces, to which the person surrenders and starts living the life of others. When I was 8 years old , that time head phones were not easily available in our country, even if they were available they were costly . At that time I used the magnets of the damaged motors of the record player, enamelled copper wire and hair band, and designed the head phone to listen music and then I experimented in many ways to make it different ways. But,at that time no one realized my creative spirit and design sense.At that I was often told to not waste my time in such activites and focus on studies.Schools teaches about history . It does not teach you how to create history and be part of it.The school education has an outside in approach, but it does not brings our what is already inside.
  • Aug 31 2013: I recommend you make a donation to a school of music or a liberal arts college, department or a theatrical department. You may also want to vote against politicians who do not support the arts. Life is short and art and music bring beauty and enrich our culture and our lives. If you are passionate about this, perhaps you could get more politically active and try to get more people to think and vote like you. All we need to do is not vote and people with small minds will operate small budgets at the expense of the rest of US. If we all voted all of the incumbents out of office at the local, state and federal level over the next few election cycles, the political parties would wake up and take notice. Instead of listening to their lobby people and money people from Wall Street, they might listen to people like you and I on Main Street. It's only money. They print enough of it. The system just seems to move too much of it into the hands of a few. We can change that and there is plenty to go around. Plenty for the arts too.
  • Aug 29 2013: YES, Talent pool being robbed in schools. in top schools the talents are being robbed and they do not allow super wiz kids to leave the school, even if the parents are transferred out of the station; it is common practice in High end school where Army officers are under posting which do not coincide with school session etc.. regards.
  • Aug 29 2013: I think school itself can be no place for learning, because with isolation from the outer sphere, the real existence it is acting as a separate entity from the rest of the society. Especially in a country like us(India), it is far more bitter a school experience is. Talent was something out of the academic curriculum.
  • Aug 28 2013: I think that is the most concise description of exactly what I and many others think about the situation. It is a nice conspiracy theory, but I do not think it is something that is being orchestrated by one of a few people/organizations....I think it is being perpetuated by a culture of greed and power hungry individuals making smaller decisions. When many of these smaller decisions all happen the beast that is the conspiracy theory emerges? Does that make sense to anyone?

    Thank you Mike :)
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    Aug 28 2013: Modern education was created, in my opinion, as a machine to spew out good little factory workers. Obedient, narrow-minded, and above all, productive ciitizens who will be more then happy to spend the rest of their slaving away, If only to build a smelly mound of crap to place their flag.

    Of course, there are those who use it to ther advantage and see through the bullsh*t, and it is those very people who generally find success.

    It pains me however, to think of all the beautiful, intelligent children who are braided, put down, and left behind because they don't "conform" to traditional standards.

    This is by far the greastest failure of our time, and in my opinion, the greatest potential to make lasting change. Reform education, and promote the true philosophy of learning. Don Anderson made some very good suggestions on my conversation about Revolution. He brought up an Idea involving international online education available to all, combined with home schooling programs and/or small groups.

    I would love to hear your thoughts on how to solve the problem, and what we can do now to begin implementing it.

    Great conversation!!!!
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      Aug 28 2013: This is just not how schools are geared anymore- fortunately- to train factory workers! It is a very out-dated picture of what is happening at the school level but an image people are for some reason loathe to replace with a current picture.

      Nothing is more important than education, and reform minded people in and outside of schools have been busy over at least a couple of decades in the spirit of developing critical and creative thinking, skills in teamwork and lifelong learning, and so forth.

      You can join that effort, if you are interested, as most schools in the US in my experience are commiitted to community engagement. Because so many decisions relevant to the classroom experience are decentralized, there is definitely room for experimentation in pedagogy, materials, and experiential learning at the school level.

      Welcome aboard!
    • Aug 28 2013: Mandy as far as implementing the change it has to happen as grass roots level, you can no longer trust the government to do this as most decisions are in the interests of big corporations and increasing revenue for them. As far as international online education for all....I am about to start my first course with this company, I hope it will be a great experience.

      https://www.coursera.org/

      The problem is that this cannot the answer because education cannot be free, someone has to pay for it, the best model in my opinion is one of balance in which those that may not be able to afford it can still gain access to good education and those that can are able to pay for what they need. The fact that the average amount of debt that a student leaves college now in the US with is around $25,000 with some student accruing as much as $200,000 is a disgrace and is actually a source of much amusement to most of the world that the US does not invest in its population to be educated properly, but allows for for profit businesses to run as educational institutions at an alarmingly expanding rate!
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      Aug 31 2013: The issue with any change really is firstly to understand the underlying factors that necessitate that particular change, otherwise why change at all? The good thing about this generation is they are able to identify the short-comings embedded in our education system, and that allowed us to begin asking questions and not just to go with the flow. The solution lies within us as a collective, just like those who came up with the idea that currently runs in our education system, I mean these people were convinced and fell in love with their ideas that they put everything into it to see it becoming a success and indeed it was, that's why we are discussing today.
      likewise, if the current crop of agents of change believe enough and willing to see this change take effect, indeed we'd see it. It's all about a collective and once you bring equally passionate people willing to give anything to see their ideas come to life together, anything is possible.
      It's up to us who see that something is amiss and we ought to strive to change it for the next generation of leaders.
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    Aug 28 2013: My conspiracy theory.
    OK, the founding fathers said that to sustain the new constitutional republic, the new country would need an educated electorate... words to that effect.
    So, how would you take this country away from the rabble who currently think they have control over their destiny?
    First, dumb down the electorate. turn the once world class public school system into a one note testing program having students study to pass an inane test. Encourage everyone to go to college by providing easy loans to the students to the tune of a trillion dollars used to build bastions of academic elitists while the failed students pay the bill.
    To insure a national standard of failure create an Federal Department of Education to coordinate programs to insure successful compliance with dumbing down programs. Once a majority of the population is sufficiently made stupid have them elect a personable, smooth talking politician who will ascend to the top leadership role and complete the conversion of the country to a meritocracy of academics who will tell you even today that they should be running things because they are so smart.