TED Conversations

Shahzad Alam

Program Coordinator, New Era Teacher Training Centre

This conversation is closed. Start a new conversation
or join one »

Schooling must develop in the students the capabilities required for being engaged in a life-long process of learning.

We are at a very critical juncture in history. We have resources available to us unimaginable in the past- financial resources, knowledge, technology, human resources, wealth of experience etc. We are also facing crisis very unique to our age. Everything we thought we knew about ourselves and our universe is constantly evolving and/or changing.

The most important role schools can play now is to prepare individuals who know how to learn and who take ownership of their own learning and development of the society around them. The schools themselves need to be in the process of constant learning and they also need to learn to create environment where individuals can learn to learn- both individually and collectively.

The question to ask ourselves are: what changes are required in the structure of schools? How can schools start focusing more on capacity building rather than information accumulation? What kind of environment encourages ownership in learning? How can schools be themselves involved in learning?

+1
Share:

Showing single comment thread. View the full conversation.

  • thumb
    Nov 15 2013: Is competition, in any form, good? Is becoming better than others a motivating factor for advancing in our learning? What would be more fruitful- competition or cooperation? Do we all live in families where every member is competing for more resources, more care, more love, more attention etc? Can we imagine societies where competition doesn't exist? Can we visualize sustainable development and competition coexisting? Can we at end fight poverty and at other end encourage competition (survival of the fittest)? Can we learn to cooperate in all human endeavours? Should schools help students learn to create environment of cooperation and maintain it?
    • thumb
      Nov 15 2013: When I read your remarks, it seems as if you like to put competition opposite of cooperation. I like to think that humans, individually and as a society, act as a dynamical system that contain both those entities. Intuitively, I think that they are both necessary assets. Competition started as a survival tool that put humans at their current place in the biological hierarchy. So did cooperation.

      Do you prefer water over fire?

      The only point that I tried to make in my previous post was the fact that modern society – especially in schools - does not seem to recognize the fact that competition has become the main motivating force for children to learn things. As a result, it seems that competition is incorporated in about every aspect of life, also in circumstances where competition is harmful.

      Lack of recognition is the keyword. Not competition.
    • thumb
      Nov 15 2013: Ten questions in seven lines. I like that!


      Is competition, in any form, good?
      - Only when you are aware that you compete. Only when you are aware of the consequences for the looser.

      Is becoming better than others a motivating factor for advancing in our learning?
      - Yes.

      What would be more fruitful- competition or cooperation?
      - Water or fire?

      Do we all live in families where every member is competing for more resources, more care, more love, more attention etc?
      - Yes! In general this happens until a member of that family recognizes this situation and points out that sharing an cooperating is a better solution.

      Can we imagine societies where competition doesn't exist?
      - Personally I cannot. I love playing chess! ;-)

      Can we visualize sustainable development and competition coexisting?
      - I’m now thinking about things like “the solar car challenge”

      Can we at end fight poverty and at other end encourage competition (survival of the fittest)?
      1. The definition poverty contains a subjective component. It is only meaningful, in relation to wealth.
      2. Competition does not need to be encouraged. It is omnipresent
      3. I think that we – as humans – should be aware that survival of the fittest was a useful asset to have in the prehistory, but that we don’t need this anymore today in western society.

      Can we learn to cooperate in all human endeavors?
      - Yes, when we are aware that we need to cooperate. There is hardly a limit to the process of learning.

      Should schools help students learn to create environment of cooperation and maintain it?
      - Yes, I think that cooperation is a powerful tool.


      ps. I assume that your questions were to provoke my cooperation and not to challenge me ;-)
      • thumb
        Nov 15 2013: Thank you for not seeing my question as me challenging you and that was certainly not my intention and I apologize if it seemed that way. I think competition and cooperation are important concepts to reflect on as they influence what we are learning and how.

        I completely agree with you that we do not need competition anymore in any society (not just western) and that cooperation is a powerful tool.

        In the context of learning, the question we need to ask ourselves is whether we still need to continue to learn to compete with the other species to ensure our survival. If yes, then we should not worry about the animals and plants that are getting extinct because of unbridled human activity. But if no, then we need to do away with it in all forms (don't know about sports). Competition in the past might have been a survival tool but I think the only survival tool for our future is to learn to live in harmony with nature.

        As far as this discussion is concerned let us not talk about sports as I too enjoy chess. Not because I like winning but because it tests my mind and makes it more sharp.

        - competition and cooperation to me is not like water and fire but like water and slow poison.
        • thumb
          Nov 16 2013: I feel like being distracted from your initial topic and the question you put down in the title page:
          “The question to ask ourselves are: what changes are required in the structure of schools? How can schools start focusing more on capacity building rather than information accumulation? What kind of environment encourages ownership in learning? How can schools be themselves involved in learning?”

          Reading these questions I noticed that you did not to mention the role of schools regarding education in social behavior. I initially – accidentally - skipped a few steps in the effort of stating my point. I jumped to details. I will rephrase my point of view:

          I think that education in general - and at all levels - should simultaneously pay attention to (and educate in) the social, moral and ethical aspects of the areas of interest.

          As a result of better social education we can avoid that today’s students will spoil toxic waste on shores of developing countries by the time they are CEO of a chemical company. We can avoid that today’s students in finance, economics or whatever, will deforest complete countries and annihilate fauna when they finally hold key positions in business society.
      • thumb
        Nov 21 2013: Dear Rene, I completely agree with we must pay attention to the social, moral and ethical aspects and in fact they must be integrated into the study of sciences and arts. This will ensure that the solutions we implement in one sphere does not end up harming the other aspects of life.

Showing single comment thread. View the full conversation.