TED Conversations

Al Meyers

social enterprenuer, community activist, inventor, artist, peop, AICPA


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What if the TED Community worked together to build the model 21st century learning environment? What would it look like?

The TED Community has some of the most innovative minds in the world. This goes beyond TED-ED. We have digital media experts, researchers, educators, public policy experts, politicians and entrepreneurs. The community has all of the tools and resources in it to become the ultimate disruptive innovator in education. What about adding a new type of fellow: a TED-ED Fellow, and have them work together on a project to design a new learning environment, and one that can be scalable. Then take the "idea" and use the financial resources of TED to turn it into an "idea worth doing."

The model would need to account for teacher training, compensation and evaluation; curriculum standards, learning pedagogy, and funding sources, to name a few factors that need to be accounted for.

I believe there's no better brain trust in the world to tackle this project than an open-source TED collaboration.


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    Jun 6 2011: This question has been on my mind so much in the past few years. Recently I've seen some exciting things happen!

    First, SF Brightworks announced its existence, it's space, and more. Brightworks is a totally different take on the education model - different subjects are quite integrated and the kids direct the flow of things with their passion. Here's a link to their website linking to one of their TEDx talks: http://sfbrightworks.org/blog/2011/05/20/tedxeast/
    I almost thought such a radical move wasn't possible because I hadn't seen it happen. Thumbs up to the "Game School" Quest to Learn, where game designers are behind the curriculum again hoping to get kids passionate about learning. (I see the tag "games as educational tools up there".)

    The other thing is an upcoming TEDx conference in the Bay Area, California. I'm doing some social media marketing for them, and in the process learning a lot about ways people are trying to integrate compassion into education - a topic we focused on this week in fact on our Facebook page (which I have to link to, since I'm doing social media marketing: https://www.facebook.com/TEDxGoldenGateED ). One of my favourites is the Roots of Empathy program which brings infants and mothers into the classroom periodically over the school year, allowing the students to connect with this tiny being that needs their care, and thus to participate in the rapid development. This idea is just so far out of the box of current school systems, it blew me away.

    I'm looking forward to getting in depth with this and many other ideas about incorporating emotional and social learning into education. The TEDx GoldenGate ED conference is coming up in just a week, and I believe it will be webcast - stay tuned to http://tedxgoldengateed.org/ for info on that if you're interested. I look forward to this conversation developing!
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      Jun 6 2011: Albert,

      Thanks for sharing so much information about such great learning initiatives. Are there any real barriers to creating initiatives like these in other parts of the U.S. and the world? I think the success of each of these ideas shows that there is a business model that can support "out of the box" learning initiatives.
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        Jun 8 2011: Yes, I think it's a daunting task, but if there are people in the community ready to support such an endeavour, it can happen, with no shortage of hard work. Of course there are the very real barriers of finding that support, both people-wise and financially, but these are not insurmountable.

        Finances I can't speak too, but I would like to say this about people: the fear I would have is that parents would not want to risk their children's future, gambling them in some untested, non-traditional form of education. I imagine parents asking questions such as "Will the kids learn all that is important?" and "Will they be able to function at the next level of schooling?". As it turns out, (in the case of the communities where these schools/programs exist) there are plenty of parents who feel as we do, that the existing educational system is broken and they are looking for one of these out-of-the-box initiatives. So as long as the parents and the new-school school connect, people are no problem.
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          Jun 9 2011: Yes, parents rightfully do fear (in many cases) that non-traditional forms of education will be inadequate -- even compared to the current system. However, Gever Tully's SF Brightworks school is helping to solve that issue. The Brightworks school is working to build relationships with universities to ensure graduates have plenty of higher ed access (http://sfbrightworks.org/questions/).

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