TED Conversations

Taylor Kendal

Teaching with Primary Sources

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How do we reform education?

I recently witnessed a TEDx event in Colorado and heard Ramona Pierson discuss her philosophy on education - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g5aHL2qd_08.

She believes there's an equation (ok, actually an algorithm) that can be used to prescribe a unique education path for every student. This idea comes in the wake of a near nationwide adoption of the Common Core Standards. Where do the resources in the United States currently need to be focused to assure positive progress in education?


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    Sep 5 2011: In my guild, creativity is the head teacher. We don't simply equalize the RRRs and the arts. We ground the RRRs in the arts. There is much to glean from the creative process, vast academic skills that transfer to all subject areas. Each day, 40 to 50 students K through 12th grade eagerly participate in activities that require them to problem solve, to formulate, to actually participate in becoming educated in ways that are meaningful, in ways that have purpose. The outcome is rich, transcending traditional outcome goals. I have young writers being published, young painters collaborating with storytellers, mathematicians who investigate, musicians who compose for film, scientists who observe and hypothesize, on and on. I am privileged to mentor students to not only listen for and respond to their creative impulse, but also to care about the work of bringing shape to their ideas across a broad scope of subject areas.

    How do we reform education?

    Embark on the journey of mentoring individuals.

    I have documented my larger response in Habits of Being: Artifacts from the Classroom Guild.
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      Sep 8 2011: Kimberly, Your personal situation certainly seems to be strides ahead of what I would consider the national mean. So first, consider yourself (and more importantly, kids) fortunate. So the question then shifts...How do we create a nationwide education system that models the top echelon?
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        Sep 8 2011: Sir Ken suggests, “Revolution.”

        Thing is, any change involves a bit of risk and risk pricks fear and fear says, “No, no you can’t.”

        For the past 15 years I have been individualizing education corporately. I’ve developed a prototype model that works. My school is at once a school and not a school. Once, someone asked me, “Wow, your kids are being published? Great stuff Kimberly, but are your students able to score high SAT?”

        “Of course, but is that really what it means to educate?”

        I am not out to abolish national standards, but to enable my students to transcend them. I wrote a book outlining a philosophical shift that will facilitate reform. I have witnessed success with my own two eyes in varying degrees, in all sectors of education. But philosophical shifts often times need revolution to gain momentum.

        So I participate in revolution... a snail's pace bit by bit: I’m founding partner of a small educational press whose purpose is to empower students to “have an idea” and to do the work of developing that idea. Inside my guild, I ground all subjects on this premise, but reaching out to the wider field of education, the vision is targeted on language arts—books as mentors. Embedded in our curriculum is the scaffolding that allows the student reader and writer to discover their creative impulse and to do the work of shaping ideas. I have provided in-service workshops to enable teachers to best utilize this approach in public, private, and homeschool sectors. I contribute thoughts to blogs and educational publications.

        So can this method work on a national level? Yes, yes it can. But it won’t look or act the same and the good news… it will cost a lot less.

        No child left behind, even if it has to be one child at a time.

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