TED Conversations

Poch Peralta

Freelance Writer / Blogger,

TEDCRED 10+

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Is education still useful for everyone?

Idiocracy
Try this 1912 Eighth Grade Examination for Bullitt County Schools and see how 'advanced' education was in the past!
http://www.bullittcountyhistory.com/bchistory/schoolexam1912.html

School is a prison — and damaging our kids
Compulsory teach-and-test simply doesn't work
http://www.salon.com/2013/08/26/school_is_a_prison_and_damaging_our_kids/

US Needs to Dump Its Entire Terrible Education System
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RuYZh2-ZdeA

Can An Online Education Actually Land You A Job?
http://readwrite.com/2013/12/13/mooc-online-education-jobs#awesm=~oq0z1A5Y90UWNc

Topics: education society
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    Dec 18 2013: If almost every cell phone can google, do your math, make, send, and play voice clips... what should an education be..?

    See if this has any effect on your life:

    Of all the things you did in the past few days... and all the things you plan to do... How many were taught to you by another person..? (holding a fork...) And how many of us are only what we were told to be..?
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      Dec 18 2013: I wouldn't be surprised if you're a philosopher Ben,
      certified or not.

      In the past few days and all the things I plan to do, most of what I learned
      was self-taught. If we count all since I started out of the womb, almost all
      were taught me. I see your point.

      'And how many of us are only what we were told to be..?'

      As if Plato asked the question. Most of us were brainwashed into believing
      we are what we are not. I see your point again. It's been a pleasure to talking
      with a philosopher which is rare for me.
  • Dec 17 2013: I like this quote as it pertains to your question....

    You never change things by fighting the existing reality.
    To change something, build a new model that makes the existing model obsolete
    -b fuller

    (We have really yielded to external authorities long enough, I think)

    Great night
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      Dec 17 2013: I agree with the brilliant idea Scott.
      The problem with that is: will the so-called authorities listen and give
      new models a chance? They don't do that ever since.

      Your quote also reminded me of Ford's revolutionary car design where
      fiber instead of steel is used for the model's body. The model is
      workable and yet everyone wonders what happened to the idea.
      It should have made vehicles cheaper and save a lot on gas!
      • Dec 17 2013: Yes! But, I'm saying don't seek authorization in the first place. :-)
  • Dec 17 2013: Pretty much the whole (apart from possibly ivy league) education system in the US, is an utter failure. It's a failure for many reasons, political will, political interference, and that includes politics at every level. From county, to state to Federal. And you'd know exactly what I'd mean if you too had to sit in on some of those meeting, that typically last 8 hours with, if your lucky one item being resolved.

    So America is going though this phase of traditional education is not the only route, lets try alternatives, rather than actually address the problem. The real issue with that is, when they realize that's a failure too, those educators will move on.

    Just as some have done from bricks and mortar to online, lets not forget that over $1 trillion dollars is currently owed in student fees. Many are part of the occupy wall st movement, they should also be part of the occupy educators movement too.

    So the wheels on the bus go round and round with all these new idea's, these new ways, this lets try, x,y,z.... it's the kids that pay for it, it's the kids that don't get a decent education.

    It's the kids that always are the ones that suffer the consequences of someone else's .... "lets try doing this instead".

    God help those kids, when they have to find a job. God help those kids who have to pay back the money. Because you can bet your bottom dollar it wont be those "educators (i use the term lightly)" with their bright and shiny new ideas, that will have to pay the cost.
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      Dec 17 2013: 'And you'd know exactly what I'd mean if you too
      had to sit in on some of those meeting, that typically last 8 hours with..'

      I get your drift Steven. I sat with quiet dismay in just 2 hours of office
      meetings lol

      'The real issue with that is, when they realize that's a failure too,
      those educators will move on...'

      And that is just the problem. As if education officials are blind, they
      don't see and realize and instead threaten to make the problem
      worse!

      'God help those kids, when they have to find a job...'

      The most shocking thing about that is even those with Ph.Ds are
      accepting labor jobs with minimum pay just to survive! I wonder
      when if ever will that end. Probably with Apocalypse?
      • Dec 18 2013: Actually Poch, I don't think it will end with the Apocalypse, far from it.

        But without seeing the reality of the situation first, without seeing all the aspects, you're never really going to come up with any worthwhile solution.

        I see this time, as still a bit of knee-jerk solutions, but a growing mass of people, finally get to grips with and understanding what the issues are. When that happens we can see better days.

        I'd equate it in some ways to Cory Aquino, who promised the people a lot, yet when she got into power, her first act was to say to the IMF, World bank, that they would repay debt, 50% of gdp - which to the country meant having to massively cut social expenditure. Because of what she'd interited from Marcos in the 80's.

        I think the peoples of the Philippines today are waking up to the facts of education, the fact's of large amounts of people living in poverty, and are now actively trying to make things better - for all. I for one wish them all the luck in the world.
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          Dec 18 2013: Thank you very much for caring about my fellow
          citizens Steven. Most of my student nephew and nieces are
          in the US though. Yes. I'm grateful that the current gov is
          making education work better.

          As for the Marcos debt, I doubt Aquino's motive on the issue.
          I risked my life fighting Marcos and when he was ousted,
          worse governments followed. Imagine my anger when I had
          to regret helping to oust Marcos.
      • Dec 18 2013: Poch, you see i see things differently, I don't see them as your fellow citizens, I see them as ALL our fellow citizens, mine included. So what happens to them, happens to me, we are all connected.

        As for Aquino, I wouldn't be too harsh on her, significant pressure was put on her to 'toe the line' from many a foreign government as well as the IMF and the World bank, with threats of dire consequences. And she fered the consequences. I think that will always be something that may well have haunted her.... if only i did not fear.

        I can understand at the time, that a lot of people, you included, probably thought just as you did and felt pain, eg the whole country. But the real enemy is the use and abuse of debt to control not only the Philippines but many other countries.

        And the consequences of it, the destruction of the forests, and those that demand it and enforce it. Whom are the ones ultimately responsible, because of deforestation, for the vast and terrible impact that the new waves of storms brings. It not a hard science to see that you HAD destroy the forest's to repay the IMF etc in hard currency, it was a forced condition of repayment, as well as the farm lands being converted to factories. And those forest's were the very protection from those storms and the devastation they bring, similarly with the importation of basic food stuffs, as there is not enough when a storm now hits.

        I am glad that your children are getting an education, I would still urge them, and even you, not to blindly following the footsteps of others, and repeat the errors of the past. But rather think of the children that still exist on the new smokey mountain, in whatever form it takes, currently spent electronics. We should all realize that to enslave a generation(s) like that, even if our children are ok, is with out a doubt absolutely - with no exception - wrong - and a blight on all our souls, no matter where that occurs in the world.

        I hope your children bring the change.
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          Dec 18 2013: Well Steve, I see your point since I treat Americans
          as my fellow citizens too.

          'I think that will always be something that may well have
          haunted her.... "if only i did not fear"...'

          That was sharp insight.

          'But the real enemy is the use and abuse of debt to control
          not only the Philippines but many other countries...'

          The corporate mafia will always exist and continue to make
          us all slaves. In retrospect, I think Marcos knew what he was
          doing -- trying to beat the mafia at their own game.

          Yes.The enslavement of poor children through discrimination
          and a deliberately faulty education system -- that is truly evil.
  • Dec 16 2013: Other then the basics, like reading and writing and some arithmetic, most of the stuff you'll learn will never serve you in life. Yet despite this, there is still a case to be made for both the technical disciplines, as well as the humane ones.

    On the technical side, when its still early enough in a person's life to send them to school, the vast majority of students don't know what they'll be doing later in life. And seeing that some of the skills, like higher mathematics require years of study, you can't just start teaching an 18 year old from scratch when he decided he wants to do something that requires math.

    So out of necessity, you teach everyone math and science up to a certain stage, before those students that need to begin to specialize in the academy. Otherwise, you won't be able to have new engineers, software designers, researchers and other such positions filled.

    That's the case for math and science, anyway. For literature, civics, history and the other humanities, you have a different argument.
    Their job isn't to to provide you with job skills. in fact, even the people who end up working in the field (which aside from the people teaching them, is rare) could probably get by without learning it in school, as there isn't much background knowledge required to start.
    The reason these are taught isn't for the life skills, but to provide a common cultural denominator and help solidify a national identity. Some places take it so far it could be considered indoctrination.

    Tools of the state to maintain itself, if you will. You aren't taught general world history or works of literature from around the globe after all, you're taught some picked items with a very clear goal in mind.
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      Dec 16 2013: '...you can't just start teaching an 18 year old from scratch
      when he decided he wants to do something that requires math.'

      My case even in high school. I barely passed Physics and Trigonometry
      because I wasn't interested. I wanted to be an artist.

      '...For literature, civics, history and the other humanities, you have a
      different argument. Their job isn't to to provide you with job skills...'

      Ironically, Literature was probably where I benefited the most. My English
      teachers since primary all told me I have a talent for writing and now I'm a
      professional writer -- though most of what I learned was self-taught outside
      school. And that confirms what you said:

      '...even the people who end up working in the field (which aside from the people teaching them, is rare) could probably get by without learning it in school...'
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    Dec 16 2013: Education itself is very important. However, the idea that we all need to go through a "traditional" institutional system of education is a problem. There are many forms of education, and in my opinion the best are education through play and education through doing. It's one reason why I am starting my research and development company and structuring it in the way that I am.
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      Dec 16 2013: '...the best are education through play and education through doing.'
      Maybe that's what Robert meant by 'learning':

      '...The answer to this question is not education but the learning opportunity.
      That will always be useful ... even in countries that will control the process
      to meet the governments needs.'

      Thanks Daniel.
  • thumb
    Dec 15 2013: Education is key, FORMAL education is killing creativity, among other things.

    Most of the world has the same education system as the US, we all need to dump it.

    Online education is great and it can most certainly get you a job and a degree or certificate if you wish.

    Everything mentioned below is mostly free (there are lots of free stuff on each site and most of them are completely free) of charge and of the highest quality.

    Some of the best are:

    Khanacademy https://www.khanacademy.org/
    Udemy https://www.udemy.com/
    Academicearth http://academicearth.org/
    Coursera https://www.coursera.org/
    Udacity https://www.udacity.com/
    Codecademy http://www.codecademy.com/
    UniversityOfThePeople http://www.uopeople.org/


    And there are hundreds of really great educational Youtube channels for those curious in just about anything like

    Big Think https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCvQECJukTDE2i6aCoMnS-Vg
    SciShow https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCZYTClx2T1of7BRZ86-8fow
    CrashCourse https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCX6b17PVsYBQ0ip5gyeme-Q
    CGP Grey https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC2C_jShtL725hvbm1arSV9w
    MinutePhysics https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCUHW94eEFW7hkUMVaZz4eDg
    SmarterEveryDay https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC6107grRI4m0o2-emgoDnAA
    THNKR https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCYNlsJPY-IrNhZqCOeApbEw
    Vsauce https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC6nSFpj9HTCZ5t-N3Rm3-HA

    And I'll leave one for sex that might not suit everyone...
    Sexplanations https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCkxMlA7rt-mnIc1AjbyAsPw

    This is the best of the best that I've found through the years, and I HAVE BEEN SEARCHING, I might have missed to mention one or two though...

    Edit: I'll add a source that have compiled a much better list then I did here.

    "Reddit, lets compile a list of the best online learning centers. We could all use a little education." http://www.reddit.com/r/reddit.com/comments/cktxy/reddit_lets_compile_a_list_of_the_best_online/
    • thumb
      Dec 15 2013: '...FORMAL education is killing creativity, among other things.'
      Killing learning is bad enough. When that something kills creativity too,
      I really get mad.

      '...Most of the world has the same education system as the US...'
      In the mid 1990s, a cousin of mine in Manila, Philippines, asked me
      for help on her child's homework. I got shocked when I read the
      public school English textbook (written by Filipinos) -- the book's grammar
      wouldn't pass a high school test!

      I agree that online education is great. I'm taking some from the sites you
      mentioned. I could add more to all the links you shared but I think those
      are enough for now.

      You took much labor to share all those Jimmy and I'm very grateful buddy.
  • thumb
    Dec 15 2013: Education in its general sense is a form of learning in which the knowledge, skills, and habits of a group of people are transferred from one generation to the next through teaching, training, or research.

    whereas:

    Learning is acquiring new, or modifying and reinforcing, existing knowledge, behaviors, skills, values, or preferences and may involve synthesizing different types of information.

    In countries such as the USA the federal government has taken the total responsibility of managing the citizens. The control of the education and learning process ... providing for health .... in effect big government or a nanny state. The responsibility and decision making has been taken away .... the state will provide.

    Historically, when the state controls ... the educated are dangerous ... libraries, media, and schools are closed and reorganized under the government guidance in accordance to the states goals and the educated and those not aligned with the government are eliminated or jailed.

    The answer to this question is not education but the learning opportunity. That will always be useful ... even in countries that will control the process to meet the governments needs.

    We need to re-evaluate the process in the USA but also to look at the goals of big government and what the end game is. US Secretary of Education, Arne Duncan, has stated he wants the federal government to write the texts, syllabus, tests, and do the grading at the federal level .... I believe that to be incredibly dangerous, a threat to democracy, and a direct path to socialism and communism.

    Not all change is good.

    Be well. Bob.
    • thumb
      Dec 15 2013: 'The responsibility and decision making has been taken away ....
      the state will provide.'

      The principle "I am not responsible" that Keith mentioned comes in
      mind here!

      'The answer to this question is not education but the learning opportunity.'
      Now that is an excellent suggestion and a very possible solution.

      Grading at the federal level which Duncan wants will probably include
      compulsory teach-and-test which simply doesn't work!
      Thanks again for your useful feedback Bob.
  • Dec 15 2013: “The secret of change is to focus all of your energy, not on fighting the old, but on building the new”- Socrates

    Most education systems in all countries are a tragedy because they are a product of a principle that is not sustainable, practical or fair. That principle is "I am not responsible"! That principle permeates every aspect of society from the individual to the family, to the community, to business and on to the highest form of government. Until the NOT is removed from that principle the fate of mankind will decline.
    • thumb
      Dec 15 2013: Excellent quote and statement Keith.
      The NOT in the principle "I am not responsible" is stupid and simply evil.
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    Jan 14 2014: What Happens When Kids Leave Traditional Education
    One example of a student who claims to be thriving as a homeschooled student is Logan Laplante. After leaving traditional education at age 9, he feels he was given the opportunity to create the type of life all kids want, “to be happy and healthy”. Now 13-years-old, he shared at a recent TEDx event how hack-schooling (as he calls it) is allowing him to make his vision possible.
    http://www.trueactivist.com/this-is-what-happens-when-kids-leave-traditional-education/
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      Jan 14 2014: I was boat-schooled between the age 8-11. We sailed around the world and basically I didn't study any of the materials that I got with me except the math books that I completed 4 years worth in the first 3 months. I got to explore anything i wished for the remainder of the trip. When I returned to Sweden I was first in class on every topic except Swedish language, but I had instead learned many other languages...

      So I had a bit of both traditional and nontraditional education and it worked out pretty well for me...
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        Jan 14 2014: Wow Jimmy. That was really an experience. I didn't even know
        Boat-schooling existed.

        'I got to explore anything i wished for the remainder of the trip. When I returned to
        Sweden I was first in class on every topic...'
        I don't think you'll have achieved that if boat-schooling wasn't freestyle learning.
        I experienced freestyle learning in IBM's Guided Learning Center scholarship when
        I was already 27.
  • Dec 18 2013: Any way you get knowledge and wisdom is OK, online, traditional, on the job, life, etc.
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    Dec 17 2013: I wonder if this could relate to our convo:
    The first School in the Cloud opens in the UK
    http://blog.ted.com/2013/12/16/the-first-school-in-the-cloud-opens/
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      Dec 17 2013: Do you interpret your link about school-in-a-cloud as supporting the "yes" answer to whether education is still useful for everyone or the "no" answer?

      Also, what was your conclusion with respect to the 8th grade test? The main differences I notice between this eighth grade test and today's eight grade tests is that kids are now expected to do more advanced math at 8th grade than they did then and that today's eighth graders would probably expect more problem solving and less factual recall than that test seems to feature.

      These differences make sense, as mathematics is probably more important now in more fields and remembering facts is less relevant when facts can be retrieved so easily. Problem solving and critical and creative thinking are a more sensible focus today.
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        Dec 17 2013: Well Fritzie, if this invasive education technique
        lets kids puzzle through big questions on their own and
        teach each other in the process, it's almost obvious that
        it supports the "yes" answer.

        My conclusion is simple: the test was advanced. But when
        you mentioned that kids today are now expected to do more
        advanced math at 8th grade, I'm not sure of my conclusion
        anymore!
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          Dec 17 2013: I think education has never been more valuable and am glad to see more kids across the world getting an opportunity for schooling and more adults making the effort to pursue continuing education.
      • thumb
        Dec 17 2013: I wonder if the creator of SOLE is seeking authorization which
        Scott says we shouldn't do:

        'I'm saying don't seek authorization in the first place. :-)...'
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          Dec 17 2013: I don't know what you mean by authorization.

          Have you listened to Sugata Mitra's TED talk? I notice you have not linked it here.

          The approach of incorporating this sort of learning within education has long been accepted. So too in many countries is homeschooling, which does not specify a pedagogy.

          Those offering educational opportunities in a place where schooling is a requirement for kids up to a certain age are still held accountable for students learning some core subjects. So if you were homeschooling or Sole schooling kids in the United States, as an example, if you let kids choose a path in which they opted never to learn any math or any science, this is where the program would not be interpreted as providing the baseline of literacy which kids are supposed to be guaranteed.
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        Dec 17 2013: '...this is where the program would not be interpreted
        as providing the baseline of literacy which kids are supposed
        to be guaranteed...'

        Well, at least anyone's interpretation would be just that --
        an interpretation.