David Barnett

British Council


This conversation is closed.

What subjects do you think you should be taught at school nowadays?

I think a basic knowledge of plumbing and house and car maintenance would be essential, as well as lessons in the cost of living.

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      Sep 8 2011: Sounds like a jolly lesson!
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      Sep 8 2011: So true. Being able to deal with death and come to terms with it is the only way to not get beaten down life.
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      Sep 8 2011: You always come up with great insights. :) May be that can help to overcome one's fear of this event!
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      Sep 11 2011: Yes Ms. Chan the observable characteristic or definition of death is cessation of life. However can anyone really say that they know what life is? A samurai warrior who feared death once asked a Zen Master what death was. The Master said "why do ask me?" Well said the warrior"you are a Zen Master!" "Yes" answered the Master, "but not a dead one". I agree that coming to terms with our mortality one way or another can have value and that blind belief in religious platitudes is lazy if not mostly useless. The Buddha 2,500 yrs ago and the Dalai Lama today both stress that personal investigation and experience should be our guide not dogma. You apparently find it offensive that some believers try to pressure others into accepting their assumptions, so do I. However I find your pronouncement of your perception as a fact a bit overbearing. You do not know what others may have experienced. I will not try to dictate to you what you should believe, please return the favor if you wish to pose as a scientific person. We all of course can always say scientifically that all the evidence you are aware of leads you to believe any thing we wish. I will state that my own experience and investigation lead me to believe that visible birth and death are only the easiest phenomena to observe, the mystical end of the spectrum has shown me that they are neither the beginning nor the end. I will not ask you to accept my mostly subjective experience as proof. Still even subjective evidence beats an attempt to PROVE a negative, yes? Perhaps we could compromise and agree that a balanced approach to accepting our mortality would be beneficial in an ideal school. Initially each person can take the position that this is the only life we know (until or unless our personal investigation shows otherwise) Much like the usefulness of living each day as though it were our last. Carpe Diem
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          Sep 11 2011: Ms.Chan a source of your strong feelings is clear now. That crime committed by some religious fanatics has reasonably tended to make Muslims and to some extent all religions suspect to many people. This is understandable and unfortunately very human but it is still prejudice. Your reaction is not so different than that of the terrorists. Their strong feelings of their coreligionists having been abused led them to justify their actions in their own minds. The Medieval religious motto "memento mori" (remember you will die) addresses your last statement. Those of us who attempt to emulate peacemakers like Gandhi or Willem the Silent (both of whom did call out to God as they died) try to preemptively forgive all possible offenses before they happen. We try to be prepared for death as the motto and you both teach, it will come for all of us and we don't know when. If you would read "the wisdom of forgiveness"(Dalai Lama) it might broaden your perspective. The "scientific atheism" of Stalin and Mao did not protect millions of people under their power from suffering and death. I did try to emphasize in my previous post that freedom of conscience is paramount both for believers and non believers. When I said that you do not KNOW what others have experienced I hoped that it was self evident that I include myself. Even though I believe differently than you I do not wish to impose my beliefs on anyone. As an aspiring scientist I acknowledge that I may be wrong in my logic or even deluded by my experiences, thus I admit that you MAY be right, please allow me the freedom to be wrong as long as I oppress no one else. Hatred and resentment are toxic like radiation, they spread. Love and forgiveness tend to heal all wounds even eventually intolerance. It may sound strange even oxymoronic but I call myself a mystical-existentialist, thus I really believe that an atheist can be just as good or moral as any saint and that some who have been designated saints did much evil.
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          Sep 12 2011: Chad, your comments and responses here sound simplistic to me. You come off as having the answer to the meaning of life, provided life doesn't actually get in the way.

          You may have put your finger on the problem with your thinking when you said, "I may be wrong in my logic or even deluded by my experiences".

          Athiest as saint? Saint as evil? To me, that just sounds like you like listening to yourself talk. No thought required.
        • Sep 14 2011: When it goes to death I like to see a flower growing, blooming dying becoming a seed once again. I don't believe in an afterlife but represents this the children which succeed the previous. This can be a way of accepting death as it merely a stream of conscious which must preveil at all costs. Each individual should feel interwoven into the web of life in order to fulfill whaterever they choose to be in the scheme of their own unique reality. All scales big in large from the highest magnatudes which can mar the individual I the end. Or the minutest sense of self which feeds bigger things which marginalize.
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      Sep 12 2011: i am responsible for my bodies death, how else can i be responsible for my life? with respect this is my perspective.
    • Sep 12 2011: My only question about this topic is why and how. Why would you teach children that were just thrust into a world of destruction, catastrophe, violence and other forms of evil, a lesson of death. There is no relief in the fear of death by learning about it. My next question is how. How do you teach about death. The only lesson you can learn can be taught by a child: "All body function stops. End of class. Go home." No one on this planet can teach you about death for they themselves are living.

      I am not questioning your morals Ms. Chan but why would you, or anyone for that matter, tell a child they are going to die.
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          Sep 12 2011: Nice article. Common sense to most people but there are still of lot of people out there who think they-re being kind by diluting the truth with euphemsims about granny falling asleep or how the angels came for little Johnny. Still, a valuable lesson...but not meaty enough for a subject in its own right.
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          Sep 13 2011: Although I agree that it does need discussing and might merit a few lectures throughout the school year, I don't think that it deserves to be a subject in its own right, like Mathematics. I mean, why not make Sex a subject in its own right? It's probably the most important driving force in the whole of nature. I think both could be covered in Biology or Psychology.

          Separately, it has been proven that when suicide is reported on the radio and news, suicide rates rise afterwards. Why this is, I don't know. But the more one comes into contact with something, the less it frightens you. This can be a good thing, of course. I just wish I could be sure what effect it would have on the young, being so open with the idea and not afraid of it.
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          Sep 13 2011: Enjoy.
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          Sep 14 2011: Have you read any Ernest Becker?
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          Sep 15 2011: Yes, and a mycologist too.
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          Sep 18 2011: Oh, well, I was referring to your post of John Cage, the musician and amateur mycologist. :-)
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          Sep 20 2011: When we say a subject should or would be studied at school are we trying to say everyone must do it? Is it a subversive way of indoctrination or are we just trying to have it offered within the corridor halls?
          There are dance programs obviously outside of school for those wanting it.

          John Cage is interesting. I am not a huge fan, but thank you for sending the video.
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          Sep 20 2011: I agree. Everything you said sounds great. However, I did not say that dance is in of itself a form of indoctrination. Offering something is different than require it. That is all I meant.
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          Sep 20 2011: Ha ha. It should be illegal for some. :-)
    • Sep 14 2011: I really like the idea of this.

      It has previously occurred to me that all religion is concerned with preparation for death, and while I am not religious, I think that perhaps it is of some value when discussing this subject. Maybe we should be restructuring religious education, and not pretend it's something it isn't, but placing it in the context of this sort of teaching? It could be accompanied by a much broader coverage of culture and history, and into philosophy and biology. It could actually be truly fascinating.
    • Sep 14 2011: Agreed. Death is the sole motivation of humanity: I need to do this before I die, I have to get out of bed before I run out of time and die.

      If humans could live forver, nothing would ever be accomplished; nothing would stop us from staying in bed all day and saying, "Well I have time, I can finish that tomorrow." Death gives us our due date, the time when we have to have our projects finished.

      Now, how that can be taught in school besides in a psychology class is beyond me.
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      Sep 16 2011: you can't teach death. It is an experience that can only be prepared for with analogies and definitions.
    • Sep 21 2011: Death is not a good topic as a subject for young students for those above 30 or so.
      You must see that being educated and experience is a very different matter to every person. (I'm not good at being educated).
      Take two identical students in every way except for a period of one year. Where one of the students father's died, their mother became depressed and neglected that child, eventually committing suicide due to depression. How do you think these two students would view depression? Ok, now expand this example to a class of 25, each with various experiences.
      Even just asking some question that shouldn't be attempted to be answered early. Children have curious minds and would look for answers (ask the wrong people).
      If death was taught it would be on a very personal level, that is the reason we have guidance counsellors and therapist.
      Death is a part of life, but teaching it is another matter.

      A good subject would be just plain common sense(if it can be taught).
    • Sep 21 2011: Oh! Death? Haha! Lovely! Are they going to have exams with grades about death too?

      I disagree here. As many others have said, we can't teach death simply because nobody has really figured it out yet.

      I guess we could discuss it in classrooms as an open debate, but I feel that it should be done rather with the parents first. Each child is going to react differently and is going to be affected differently by death in his life, and the parents know him better (hopefully...)

      I think that presenting it in classrooms is way too blunt.
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    Sep 12 2011: It depends on what level of education to which you are referring.

    Work ethic.
    Money management.
    The arts in all of their forms at every level of education.
    Emotional intelligence (yes, it's an over-used term but it refers to essestial)
    Listening skills.
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      Sep 12 2011: I think work ethic is important... or lessons on the reality of work life in general. Too many students just want to get it over with school, thinking that a regular working life will provide them with the satisfaction of doing something and financial freedom. But the truth is that it's not as easy as that and that oftentimes, the "what if...," as in "what if I had gone to college instead of taking the first more or less ok-ish job I could get after high school?" question arises. At school, kids should be allowed to learn more about different professional environments, about job profiles, about soft and hard skill useful for this or that position, about the benefits of college, and also about scientific careers.

      Funnily, I was trying to offer my old school to come and tell the kids about studying abroad and working in the video games industry, but they did not seem very interested in my story, although I think that this is exactly what they would need: alumni who come from where they come from and who can show them what's possible if they just work hard enough.
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    Sep 12 2011: I'd like to see more of the following:

    - Learning strategies. I don't know if times have changed in schools, but when I was at school I had no concept of the fact that there are different types of learner and different ways to learn. There should be skills lessons in how one can process information, remember facts, build on and group one's knowledge and apply it to real life, not just to textbooks.
    - Problem solving. Again, students could be taught creative strategies and lateral thinking, and this could if implemented properly also strengthen teamwork beyond the monotony of "talk to your partner" exercises.
    - I think there are merits to psychology, especially in terms of students learning to understand non-verbal communication. I think we have to be careful, though, not to start this at too young an age, nor to make it compulsory, because not all adolescents can apply this information properly, and may end up trying to psychoanalyse each other or themselves too much.
    - Cultural Studies / Intercultural Communication. I grew up in a small town in the northwest of England at a time when the population of that town was almost exclusively white. I regret having spent the first 18 years of my life having had very little knowledge of other cultures, or indeed of what culture even was. There are situations from my undergraduate years that I would certainly have handled better with more knowledge of other cultures.
    - Most importantly: more choice, earlier. I remember learning lots of things in maths classes at school which have had no impact whatsoever on my adult life. I'm glad that I learned numeracy skills, but I seriously doubt that more than a small number of students have gone on to use algebra and geometry in their everyday lives. Students should learn subjects like maths, and if at the age of 14 these topics are interesting to them, they should be able to carry on learning them. But we've come up with lots of ideas more appropriate to perhaps even more students.
  • Sep 9 2011: 1. Basic Sciences (evolutionary biology, physics, chemistry, computer science) and Math
    2. Psychology and a bit of neuroscience
    a. how attention works, how to control it, how to get into "flow" or engagement and do work more efficiently,
    b. how our brain is more of a memory based computing machine and that reasoning is a learnt attribute,
    c. how thalamus (the emotion center) connects to all areas of the cortex and influences all our reasoning, theories on emotional intelligence and how compassion and empathy are hardwired into our brains
    d. overview of the newest branch in psychology - positive psychology
    3. Basic Moral Philosophy (The three main theories of what constitutes a good life - Utilitarianism, Deontology and Virtue Ethics and overview of the rest, comparison and overview of main points of all major religions, atheistic and agnostic philosophies)
    4. Basic Political Philosophy (
    how we came from warring tribes to kingdoms to dictatorships to democracy,
    the social contract, the evolution of institutions - education system, the courts, bureaucracy and the current shortcomings)
    the works of philosophers (Locke, Hobbes, Rousseau etc.) which contributed to preambles and consitutions of democracies and the UN charter of human rights
    5. Autobiographies and biographies of people who have made significant contributions in art, sciences, literature, philosophy, politics, sports, music etc..
    6. Physical education and sports
    7. Art appreciation
    8. Basic economics, personal finance
  • Sep 8 2011: I would still promote creativity and self-confidence as being key parts of development, as Sir Ken suggests, often the childern whose skill sets don't fit academic life are encouraged to hide their abilities, or to develop them outside schools. I also believe that scholls in the UK are now all about league tables where the results are compared and contrasted. What happened to Gardner's ideas about multiple intelligences, and why is it that I had to explain the idea of learning prefernces to a group of teachers recently? Are 'disruptive' childern who don't pay attention just being taught in the wrong way for their learning style. as the teachers can't vary their approach when trying to engage with the learners? Maybe the question is what new approaches and techniques do teachers need to learn to engage more effectively with a variety of learners?
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      Sep 8 2011: Well said I would combine it with play as a way for a young person to have an opportunity to have informal education, as well as being faced with the curriculum
  • Sep 6 2011: I think psychology would be of benifit, this might curve the stigma that dogs the mentally ill and compounds their illness.

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    Sep 14 2011: These are some of the things I would prioritize.

    How to calculate how much money is costing you.
    How your body works and what it needs to be healthy.
    Math in relation to real world events.
    How to communicate with other people.
    How to get along with others.
    Opportunities to make music and art.
    How to speak other languages (even if it is a computer language)
    • Sep 14 2011: I completly agree with you. As a current high school student, I feel that school teaches so many useless things that will never help us in the real world. For example, in my English I class, I learned about film techniques... that was it. The school I attend is trying to get some private grant from Bill Gates and that means the school is forced to use teaching strategies and cirriculum that Gates considers important.

      I would much rather learn to do my taxes in math class rather then how to graph functions on a line.I would love to study literature and learn about the semantics of English rather then film techniques that mean nothing.The classes that I deem the most important this year for me is my college Psychology class, my college English class (where I can actually learn what a prepositional phrase is) and my Spanish class, which has taught me more about English then my high school level English classes have.
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        Sep 14 2011: Hi Peter! Thanks for sharing an important perspective- YOURS and one from within the high school system. I am convinced that someone who has the abilities to reason and think critically as you are doing will be fine no matter what the system is doing right now. I think that the best approach is to take what they offer, say 'thanks' and then enrich yourself as you are doing by participating in TED or other things that fascinate you. Learning is an active, living, life long thing and you are certainly on the road! Glad you are here!
        • Sep 15 2011: Thank you for the warm welcome and compliments Debra!
  • Sep 11 2011: I think music should be mandatory for all children from grade 1 to grade 9. Not only does the process of learning an instrument force children to learn patience, endurance, commitment, and a sense of self accomplishment. but the process of learning music will also stimulate and contribute to the development of areas of the brain that would not normally be stimulated as much. I also think that schools need to teach all religions in school from Christianity to Buddhisms. I, myself are an atheist but I think that our past has been greatly influenced by religion and so its important to know all religions and understand the dynamic between each one.
  • Sep 11 2011: The ones we want to learn! As a high school student in America it is frustrating sometimes with the lack of choice presented to the academically inclined. Our system is based on standardized testing and perfection of subjects we are not interested in or naturally talented at. Also, cross subject relations. How is art related to physics and engineering? How is band related to math? How is science related to history? And finally, globalization. In an increasingly technological world, students my age, especially in america, need to be shown that their home is not the only thing affected by their actions!
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    Sep 10 2011: Teach children how to teach themselves. Brick and mortar schools are obsolete.
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      Sep 11 2011: Walter I think I agree with your succinct dictum and certainly the observation that traditional schools are obsolete. Myself I believe we need to study each student as if they were a raw diamond to discern their best learning modes and help them to understand themselves and what it means to be a human being. Every child has both unique and universal qualities the comprehension of which will greatly aid them in their ability to interact with others effectively. Definitely the memorization of facts is mostly a waste of time. (surveys of high school grads show an average of only 20% retention 1 yr later). The applied use of principles in acquiring practical skills should be paramount. The chief of these are social skills or ''emotional intelligence". The ability to negotiate and communicate are life skills that benefit everyone. Exposure to Geometry and Algebra supposedly supports logical thinking skills although I see no clear evidence of this in American society where they have been required for high school graduation for generations. ( perhaps it only helps if you truly master them). By first studying ourselves (biology, psychology) and then humanity (cultures, history, etc) and then our relationship to nature and the universe the relevance of both the arts and sciences can be demonstrated. In this I think I agree with Ken Robinson that without a balance of the two, society tends to become autistic.
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        Sep 11 2011: Well, I have no problem with high functioning autism, that's were a lot of genius resides. I have an intuitive sense that the human mind, given the right conditions, KNOWS what it needs in order to self-magnify. Kids need to be told that they HAVE a mind, that it needs nurturing and that they can do that nurturing. The Internet provides humanity with breakout potential, the power of lateral connectivity smashes hierarchical censoring and indexing systems. Kids need to have their curiosity switch thrown to the full ON position and informed that the most important thing a human can do is to learn.
    • Sep 11 2011: Walter! Spot on! I think teaching creative problem solving allows students to do this very well while teaching them how to do anything they may not have ever learned.

      Teaching students anything when you don't know what the future holds doesn't make any sense. Creative problem solving prepares them for everything.
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    Sep 10 2011: Listening: the art of making meaning from sounds.
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    Sep 6 2011: Many people have lots of ideas about things that should be taught in school that aren't today. The question is what material should be removed to make room for it? That gets tricky. Many say more science. Does that mean removing art or English? There is talk of teaching programming. My school had programming (computer sciences), which I took but I had to give up other classes to make room, and in the end I didn't take biology. (I did take physics and chemistry). In Canada we are encouraged to learn French, and many people can see the usefulness of taking another language, but I had no room for history.

    We had to take courses in the "applied skills" category, which is stuff like shop. I took electronics. We also had one year when we took a little bit of many trades, metal and wood shop, cooking, sewing, typing ect. To this day I feel that was some of the most useful knowledge I learned.

    In reality school was just the beginning of my life of learning and that is the key to education. We have to foster a love of learning in children when they are young. I may not have taken biology in high school, but the foundational earlier subject (science) was enough for me to spring board and learn about it myself. I find biology fascinating and though I am no biotech specialist, I know more than many people about the subject because I have spend time learning about it in my adult life.

    Kids live in a world where they will have more access to information than any other generation, so there is less need to cram specific info down their throats. The trick is to get them interested in self directed learning so they can take advantage of the information age instead of being distracted by the entertainment age. We need to give them a broad understanding, critical thinking skills and reward them for their curiosity. They have plenty of time to specialize and become experts when they are adults
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      Sep 7 2011: Thank you!! In education, we often see opinions on what students should learn, but if we're not careful this "more, more, more" mentality can really take its toll on our kids. I think one thing that could help is getting everyone out of the mindset that education has a deadline. We often think that if they don't get it before they're 18, there's just no way they'll get it. Never has this been less true than it is now. Our technology has made life-long learning a very real possibility for an incredible number of people (and access is improving daily). I took biology, but very little has really stuck with me (probably because a 14 year old cheerleader has better things to do than poke at dead frogs :). I've learned more about it on my own out of pure interest since graduation.
    • Sep 12 2011: Any thoughts on how to get kids interested in self directed learning?
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      Sep 16 2011: @Scott I heartily second your point on self-directed learning. Electronic data storage and transfer has unlocked libraries of information for people to study on their own. School should become less of a place you get information and more of a place you learn *how* to get and sort and process new information.

      Literacy (language, math, etc.), critical thinking, and autonomous learning skills would be my top votes.
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    Sep 6 2011: Humanity & awareness about conservation of nature

    Immediate exclusion of Religious Studies (let it be taken care of by parents and family)
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      Sep 7 2011: Actually, I'd love to see all of these combined into a single class. Humanity and conservation are very closely tied to the core of most major world religions. Most family members will not teach about any religion other than the one they practice. Although many in the TED community aren't religious per se, to ignore that the vast majority of the world is doesn't serve us well.
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        Sep 7 2011: Amy with all respect to your thought , I don't see anything humane in any religion..... as it only teaches except itself all others are false. The history of bloodshed in the name religion is the eexample.

        Even in school , students are taking those religious studies in which s/he born........

        If school tecahes humanity , whatever family teaches at least kids can compare.... and they are intelligent enough to compare .......
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    Sep 6 2011: 1. Programming. Problems of computability and algorithms should be standard parts of math curriculum. It's amazing that you can make it through high school and never hear the name Alan Turing. Being able to reformulate problems into a set of instructions and break large tasks into basic reusable components is a fundamental skill today. Understanding when and why it is not possible is equally important.

    2. Statistics and probability. This should not only be an elective for the numerically inclined. People are constantly manipulated because of their poor understanding of statistics. Our natural intuitions regarding probability and risk are frequently wrong. (Great Ted talk about this here: http://www.ted.com/talks/peter_donnelly_shows_how_stats_fool_juries.html )

    3. Mass communication and psychology. Schools are churning out fodder for tomorrow's propagandists. We need to arm people with mental defenses and this starts by understanding the tools of communication, psychology, and critical thinking.

    4. Physical education and nutrition. This is obvious.
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    Sep 6 2011: Philosophy needs an upgrade. One of the most important discovery in the last century was that human beings were apes. That sounds obvious, but it isn't. And this fact is ignored in classes.
    Teach HUMAN PRIMATOLOGY, please!
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      Sep 6 2011: Human primatology absolutely!
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      Sep 6 2011: Saying human beings were apes sounds soooo 19th century and sensationalist. How about saying that we had a common ancestor?
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        Sep 6 2011: It's not the same as saying we are Apes. We are not just related to Apes we are Apes. A lot of people don't know this.
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          Sep 7 2011: Well i think there is more of a distinction than that. I mean dogs and bears have a common ancestor. would you call a dog a bear or vise versa? do you have any literature saying how closer we are to apes than previously thought?
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        Sep 7 2011: You wouldn't call a bear a dog or vice-versa because these are names that refer to species. By calling humans Apes I am not making that mistake, as there are no species called ape. Apes are a superfamily that includes the family of great Apes which includes Chimpanzees, Bonobos, Gorillas, Orang-Otangs and...Humans. Makes perfect sense given that Chimpanzees and Humans are closer to one another than they both are to Gorillas. But don't just take my word for it:


        Humans are Apes and this should be taught at school.
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    Sep 6 2011: Dancing. :) SIr Ken Robinson explains it quite well why. :) Of course, kids can go to specialized schools for that but then again I think it will be great fun for the regular students and pupils.
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    Sep 5 2011: More emphasis on physics and biology. Especially biology. Too few people fully grasp the theory of evolution in all its elegance. Such a powerful idea has consequences reaching far beyond the subject. I think in my country (France) they should probably cut out subjects rather than add new ones.
    • Sep 6 2011: i agree with you. as well as learning to draw logical conclusions based on having searced for numerous pieces of evidence and any possible counter-evidence, knowing how our bodies work and understanding the forces of nature will allow children to better cope in the world they live in.

      from personal experience, having studied physics has helped me avoid a few car crashes over the years, and biology has saved me from having to goto the doctor on numerous occasions, as well as allowed me to recognise bogus claims made by some producers of food and 'cures'.
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      Sep 6 2011: I AGREE!!! Why is everybody four centuries late in scientific knowledge? How is it possible that friends of mine think that habits change your DNA in the long run? Why is everybody talking garbage about ENERGIES, what the heck is "vital energy"?
      How did homeopathy get mainstream?
      And the worst... Diets according to your bloodtype.
      I surrender. I am a black sheep among my community.
      So yeah, I wish science was taught more seriously.
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        Sep 6 2011: Yes, even here on TED you hear the weirdest stuff and when you try to correct people, they call you arrogant. Science doesn't seem to inform opinion enough in many science-related conversations. There is a thread on TED where Evolution and Lamarckism are mindlessly intermixed. While the original poster admits knowing very little on the subject and welcomes clarification, some of his responders reply to him completely wrong with a confidence that is so totally misplaced. When you confront them, they tell you about some concept they hardly understand and end up coming out with the eternal cop-out "science doesn't have all the answers yet". Maybe true, but no reason to make stuff up at the expense of what we know.
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          Sep 6 2011: Exactly. And they get mixed up this way. Belief in the unexplainable is what saves them from arrogant know it all science. Like an underground newspaper in a dictature letting you know things they don't tell you on TV.
          It's all upside down, I don't understand how they did it but I suspect teaching things in a right manner could spare us from lousy dinner conversations.
        • Sep 7 2011: that bothers me too, like knowing something and being able to give actual reasons for how a conclusion is to be logically drawn makes you an ass?

          i think there's a double-problem too, not only do many people not understand even the basics, but they choose to ignore people who are experts in their field.
          there was the 'big worry' when CERN started up. to me what struck me most was not that some people were worried it might create a black hole, but they realy thought that thousands of scientists with centuries of knowledge and experience behind them didn't know what they were doing. similarly plenty of people feel right about ignoring the advice of every immunologist on the planet in favour of what an actor has to say about vaccines and autism.
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          Sep 7 2011: Matthieu
          My feeling is that people try to understand or disprove evolution bringing complex form of life (mostly human being) in the example which actually need much higher level of scientific understanding plus logical and reasoning capability plus curiosity.
          It's pretty simple to undersatnd mutation at much simpler form of life....... but that get's very little attention.....

          Science possibly is most tolerant subject as it tolerates all the denouncers of science though they are using all the comfort and advancement of science to make their life more and more comfortable.............
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        Sep 7 2011: I agree with this for the most part, but true scientists understand something very important that is missing from this particular conversation. Sometimes what was once pronounced absolute fact by the world's most renowned scientists is now considered false. Science is such an amazing and brilliant area of study particularly because of this irony. As we learn more and more about our world, our "truths" have to be questioned. Teaching kids to be questioning and inquisitive without condescension in their tone is a skill that is acquired (albeit inadvertently) through the study of science.
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          Sep 7 2011: I see what you are getting at. However, this is an oversimplification and it's often used as an argument against people who advance scientific facts. We must stress that all current theories are improvements on previous theories not their complete negation. You can still take Newton's laws of gravity and get a good approximation of the effect of gravity on objects, especially if were talking about the Earth and a small body. For a theory to make no sense at all once it has been superseded itself makes no sense. If it's being applied at some point, it must be true to some extent or within some realm.

          Now what is true is that the devil in the details changes with our scientific understanding and different hypotheses fall in and out of favour depending on evidence (and authority has no part to play in this thankfully).

          So yes, it's important to stress that science changes and adapt to evidence, but we ought to be specific about what we mean, because some people, on TED and elsewhere, use this as an excuse to ignore all the established scientific work that has been done in an area of science. The theory of evolution won't go away, it's core will remain true, its more hypothetical consequences will slowly be refined.
        • Sep 11 2011: amy it's true that science has changed our understanding of many things on many occasions, but it's as you said "sometimes". in the same way that a person's toyota breaking down doesn't mean that all toyota's are prone to do so, just because a few scientific theories have been updated. also it's an extremely rare case indeed for science to be wrong, usually it just adding more detail to an already correct theory, for example einstein's theory of gravity didn't prove newton wrong, it just added more to it.
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      Sep 8 2011: When you say cut out subjects what subjects are you talking about, of course a child should actually have a variety to study from. I really think your right about science and biology though :)
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    Sep 5 2011: I think Physical Education should be manditory for all grades, and should be intigrated with nutrition. The majority of children of today don't get near enough exercise, nor do they make 'healthy' choices in what they eat. I also think ecology should be taught in schools, from preschool on...teach kids to respect their bodies as well as the planet, and we will all benefit from that.
  • Sep 13 2011: We should be teaching kids new languages from primary school. It is a lot easier for a child to learn a new language than it is for a teen or adult- so why do we take forever to get teaching children languages? As a child we had English and Maltese taught to us from kindergarten, and we also watched Italian television from time to time, so my generation of Maltese people, and those of the generations before me, can for the most part say they are tri-lingual.

    Knowing different languages is a huge plus, not only for the work place. It gives you a different identity, a different way of expression, a different outlook on life and the world.

    But more importantly, all these accumulate into one fundamental benefit- the ability to think more thoughts! And as Patricia Ryan said- "if you can't think a thought, they you are stuck".

    I can see the benefits of knowing more than just one language now that I live in the UK and spend a lot of time around people who only know English, and for who foreign languages are difficult things you had to do at school where they weren't even taught how to express themselves in a different language, only taught how to fill in the blanks and add words up to make sentences. I can see in the way they talk, that they are not aware of a different way of expressing themselves. And I am glad that I have the chance to identify feelings on more than just one level.
  • Sep 13 2011: Computing and Finanicial dealings (about loans, tax etc.)
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    ~And Ecological integration. Things like the study of Ecology, Wilderness Survival, Gardening, Fishing, and so on.
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    Sep 12 2011: More laughter - How to have a sense of humour in a world where the media focus is on disaster
  • Sep 11 2011: It is important to teach children to think critically and question assumptions in all fields. I also consider that biology and cognitive science should be given the status they deserve.
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    Sep 11 2011: Some subjects I think should be taught could be Global studies, I'm not sure whether a lot of schools have it already but the School I'm going to introduced it this year. It's about discussing matters that involve the whole world, climate change, religious wars etc. About learning other cultures and other ways of life that people live in a place so different from your won. A Social Skills program could be really helpful to those kids that aren't very social and because of that are outcasts or being bullied. Besides Social skills are very important in life. And maybe something along the lines of a creativity program that is not limited to just art but can include any form of creativity e.g. Writing, thinking out of the box, solving problems, coming up with new daring ideas. Just some ideas of mine.
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    Sep 11 2011: Yes, creative problem solving is foundational. Creative means thinking out of the box, busting paradigms, letting data speak for itself rather than being a slave to a predetermined point of view, an ideology. Teaching HOW to think rather than WHAT to think is also foundational. Give a mind the tools to amplify itself and the rest follows.
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      Sep 11 2011: walter...definately problem solving is of the highest importance along with conversations about individual and community morality/values....I worry that the the young may become more and more isolated from personal contact because of the ease of interacting "online' and that may snowball into less and less interest in being involved in community development/political life.
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    Sep 11 2011: Skills I think should be taught in high school (or at least, taught better): reading and understanding contracts, credit management, mortgages, health insurance, life insurance, home maintenance, car maintenance, budgeting.
  • Sep 9 2011: I think parenting skills need to be taught at school. Nearly all students will become parents. To help close the achievement gap we need to step in before the children are born with skilled parents who are always their children's first teachers.
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      Sep 11 2011: I couldn't agree more, it seems it's the missing part in teaching citizenship. our schools make great effort to get the children to become positive and active members of society but carefully steer clear of teaching parenting skills, probably for fear of triggering family reactions. However, the nuclear family today, sometimes down to single parent family seem to find it difficult to take that in charge any longer, maybe for lack of time. School was meant to bring the part of education that all parents would not so that everyone could have the same access to knowledge and the mastering of it. That's the original goal curriculum deciders should really keep in mind.
    • Sep 11 2011: I disagree. I don't think parenting skills are something you can teach nor standardize. Children learn differently and parenting skills are a philosophy. Parents learn how to be parents through experiences they have while growing up and make decisions on how they think its best to be a parent based on that. We live in a society that is in need of creativity. You cannot teach a parent to be a certain way and expect kids to end up differently.
      • Sep 11 2011: I am not suggesting to standardize the teaching of parenting. I believe we can teach skills and strategies based on a variety of theories and philosophies leaving plenty of room for critical thinking and individual decision making. We currently teach teaching skills and techniques in college education programs and still teachers must choose the right technique at the right time for the right student. But new parents often do not have wonderful experiences of being parented so they have nothing to draw on. That lack of experience leaves them with a lack of options when they become parents. This is seen when child abuse begets child abuse and illiteracy begets illiteracy. I would like us to turn this vicious cycle into a virtual cycle.
  • Sep 9 2011: Children in Belize must do voluntary work in order to graduate from high school. I think it's a wonderful idea that should be introduced. To learn about life is experience and what a good start to be encouraged to discover what is outside of school. These experiences will teach the younger generation; they are teaching themselves. Perhaps it will encourage them to take an interest in politics.
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      Sep 9 2011: voluntary: done, given, or acting of one's own free will
      must: be obliged to

      I'd call it exploratory service :) Though, I do think it provides invaluable life experience with potential to spark interest in civic issues or politics or just making peoples lives better.
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      Sep 9 2011: My high school in MA had a 40 hour community service requirement for graduation. Sure, it is forcing what 'should' be a voluntary experience, but for many like myself, it was the first step regardless of wanting to or not.
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    Sep 9 2011: Where's my comment?

    I really think need to be taught "Making Money!"
    In the market economy, I think that's fair, isn't it?

    Sorry about my poor English, in advance.
  • Sep 8 2011: Essential Education Reform

    Teach children from kindergarten, topics on human existence like evolution, life and death, health and lifestyle, freedom and responsibility, reality and falsehood, ethics and social morality, relationships and sexuality.
    (Please note that these are all science topics and not speculations based on religion or philosophy which should be avoided)

    Teach children how to think rationally and make decisions for themselves.
    (Instead of using notions of sin, shame, guilt, and punishment to control children)

    It is an ignorant life we lead, if we have no idea about life, even if we all have PHDs.
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      Sep 9 2011: Isn't it a little bit difficult for children to make decisions for themselves when the world that is taught to them is already figured out? I'm all for presenting children with the most up-to-date knowledge our world can provide, but to say that philosophies based on speculation shouldn't be included in teaching is robbing a younger generation of what it means to be a philosopher.

      When you talk about teaching a child rational thinking, what is that based on exactly? How do we come up with the rules that we all abide by? Do not kill? Even though all of animal nature is based on a kill or be killed attitude? We as humans have the ability to have morality, but saying that is all there is and that we cannot be connected to an outside, sometimes seemingly irrational universe is not the kind of mentality I would like to send to another generation.

      Sometimes irrational thoughts transfer to groundbreaking achievements, and even science admits there is no end to the knowledge we can extrapolate from reality, so maybe thinking outside the box is just what matters most.
      • Sep 10 2011: To live is to make choices. It is best to make any decision based on facts. Most philosophy (love of wisdom) has become justification of ancient beliefs, and there are a zillion opinions on any topic. Where is the truth? Childhood is too precious to waste on study of assumptions. More importantly, when children are conditioned to believe as truth, conflicting, irrational ideas without any basis on reality on the strength of faith alone, they lose the ability to discern self-deception and truth for ever. The universe when viewed through a corrupted mind would remain irrational. Rational thinking is based on not filling impressional mind with irrational ideas.

        The reality is that humans are life forms, evolved like all life on earth and shares the same genetic material. All life is selfish and one man's good is another's evil in terms of individual struggle for existence. But man is the only animal who wastes his life on vain pursuits and forms armies to annihilate themselves on the basis of false beliefs ("human morality").

        Now consider this- Individuals are unique genetically, physically, and mentally and selfish as any animal, but we are intelligent social beings. This single fact can be the basis (only by safeguarding individual social security can we be social) of all our morals, laws & norms. Female genital mutilation, misogyny, violence against women, persecution of sexuality, honor killings, hate crimes, religious persecution (discrimination, harassment, rape, plunder, and massacre of infidels), religious violence, terrorism, human sacrifices, child marriages, slavery, racism, caste systems, exploitation of natural resources & people, and wars, all of which have religious/moral justifications become immoral at one stroke.

        The message to future generation should be that we are social beings, individuality & selfishness ends with the infringement of another's social security. Understanding reality enable us to make appropriate choices easy, not difficult.
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    Sep 8 2011: I prefer schools should not teach they should just guide a rather more that ordinarily guiding that leads them to learn. This gives them how research and knowledge goes side by side. Inventions should be appreciated but not labeled that he or she invented so and so and somewhere somebody inventing such a thing could be questioned or could be condemned in anyway. For attaining such a trusted world the present can't adjust but if the idea is carried down in due course of time it gets refined and putting forth such a type of education always paves way for betterment of life and solves many people's life. Creativity without expecting anything is the best practice rather than being pulled by money and fame.
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    Sep 8 2011: I agree with the psychology and philosophy, Philosophy help us how to live like a right "human". Moreover, it provides students with the tools they need to critically examine their own lives as well as the world in which they live. But, in my country, philosophy is not a interested subject.Frankly, It's so boring. So that, philosophy need a new way to teach and buid excitement in the classroom.
    For psylosophy, i like this subject. Because people are so complicated, we need it to know a little bit about what they feel, what they want, what they are thinking, what they gonna to do...
  • Sep 8 2011: I completely agree Sofia. The key to Accelerated Learning allows the development of whole body learning, incorporating activity and movement allowing learners to feel the learning as well as hear and see it. As is generally recognised, boys tend to develop their major muscle groups earlier than girls, and are less likely to respond well to sitting and listening, whilst girls tend to develop their small muscle groups and are therefore more likely to enjoy writing and be more responsive to being asked to listen. Acknowledging this, and recognising that some learners are Kinaesthetic as well as Auditory and Visual would lead to more activities in the classroom, and therefore possibly less disruption from 'difficult' learners. In my experience it can be just the same with adult learners in businesses whatever their ages!!
    • Sep 8 2011: That may apply for some students, but it would be suboptimal for generic education. I have bodily deformations and genetic dysfunctions that result in myself finding it agonising to engage in activities that involve much walking, running, or standing. I hate having to be physically active, I prefer just reading, listening, writing and speaking. I know full well what your intentions are with this, but if we employed this system of education universally, I would begin hating school and my academic achievement would drop phenomenally. You do have a point however. It would be useful to sort pupils into classes by their optimum learning methods. That way, kinesthetic learners would be allowed to be active, while not disturbing auditory and visual learners.
      • Sep 8 2011: Hi Frederic
        I apologise for the confusion, but I was not stating that everyone would have to get involved in all activities especially if there were physical challenges that would cause distress. I have worked in business with facilitators where we have offered a variety of learning activities for leaners, with the same outcomes to be delivered, and we have had some significant success where the learners could select the methods that they found most appropriate for them. Where learners have their own preferences these are met through the variety of approaches. It would be fair to say that generally, most learning is approached in a way that favours those who process information visually and auditorally, and this could be seen too disadvantage those who learn more kiinaesthetically, The key is increased engagement, not the isolation of learners wehatever their preferences.
        • Sep 9 2011: In that case, I agree entirely, although I do have to remark that auditory learners are still at a disadvantage. I am not well-informed about education outside Europe, but here for example we tend to have only written examinations, not oral alternatives. Myself being an auditory learner, I really do see where you are coming from.
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    Sep 7 2011: I don't think we're in disagreement here. If a theory evolves, then is it simply a different form of its original premise or is it truly different making the original statement untrue? At what point does the change mark a new theory altogether? A bit more philosophy than is warranted, but I suppose that's my point. Having these discussions is so important to students. Yes, many people use this as an excuse to simply discount science and that's unfortunate. But will their minds become more open to our beliefs if we simply toss them aside as morons and close the discussion? It can be infuriating to talk with people who don't see things our way especially when we know we're right (as evidenced by your very passionate defense of evolution), but maybe we should try a different approach. WHY do people not believe in evolution? Are they trying to question sources they no longer trust? If so, why don't they trust them? Has resistance been built into their upbringing? Asking questions like this and persisting in the conversation might push us past simple argument and into a better understanding of the subject and each other. Years of teaching has shown me that so often in what appears to be an academic argument, there are underlying reasons for one's defense having less to do with the subject itself and more with the person doing the defending.

    Thanks for the very interesting question, Matthieu!!
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      Sep 7 2011: I know we are fundamentally in agreement, I just wanted to expand on the point for casual onlookers not to get the wrong idea.
  • Sep 7 2011: Much more Financial classes...
  • Sep 6 2011: Healthy eating and cooking (see Jammie Oliver's TED wish). In the US we provide a large number of free or reduced-cost meals for low income students. There is a great opportunity here to provide repeated exposure to fresh, sustainable foods and perhaps reduce the rates of obesity and diabetes.

    For our youger students, we sould also consider nonstrtuctured outdoor play in natural play areas.
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    Sep 6 2011: Consciousness
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    Sep 21 2011: Co-Creativity, Teamwork, Acceptance of diversity, Integration of diversity, Self Awareness, Appreciation for the Uniqueness in Every Child, Cultivation of Individual Talent, Kindness, Compassion, Value of Constructive Contributions, Inter-dependence, Reliability -plus everything Ken Robinson says.
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    Sep 21 2011: What a great question, David. It seems to me a person's obligation to himself is to discover his preferences and with that discovery, serve humankind in an optimal way, whether it be compassionate service or fabulous consumption. So, at a certain point, the subject, "How to think," should be introduced and continually taught. About the time reading, writing, and mathematics are progressing and science and history and geography are coming in, a survey course, "The Organization of Human Knowledge," should begin. Toward the end, just before the student departs for college, or trade school, or simply the job market, "Life Planning," should be taught.
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    Sep 17 2011: Critical thinking skills. Few question what they are told these days.
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    Sep 17 2011: Information management/ programming and Improved math skills. But they need to be taught in a way that kids want to learn. Math is an essential part of everyday life, but nobody wants to open a text book and try and absorb pure math. Kids need to be taught math as it relates to them. You have the kids who get math, but then there are kids who only care about sports, cars, hunting, computer gaming.. And all of these subjects can easily be translated into math. Basic principles can then be applied elsewhere once learned. Teachers need to give kids the freedom to explore math in other things they enjoy such odds of their favorite team wining, then determining what type of offense usually beats their opponent that week, etc... Math as baseline for all other hard sciences will also pull America out of this education pit we have been in these past few decades, and provide a workforce that is prepared to face the challenges surrounding us.
  • Sep 14 2011: How about we focus on the basics? Reading, Writing and Arithmetic. (With a touch of history and physical activity)

    I have known plenty of people who do not understand the basics.

    Writing on a professional level will help most people in most professions.
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    Sep 14 2011: I Think Context need to be incorporated into the class room, I said this because as a university student my self, I know that I learn(and more importantly retain) knowledge I get to use with in a proper context. Just memorizing knowledge or learning "just because" your told to has been very ineffective for me and numerous(though not all) children. I also feel that Children who can retain knowledge with out better context would still befit by see know it can be used passed a purely academic sense.

    I'd also like to see a "Problem solving" class where kids are given(or better yet placed in) situations where they feel some pressure. For example there could be an interactive multi-player game where student mange part of a castle, or a town, and student need to work together to achieve goals for improving there digital community and learn way of responding to unexpected trouble.

    Finally I would like to see discussions of emotions from a fairly early age all through out high(secondary) school so that students learn way of dealing with stress, anger. sadness. depression With any luck it could lead to open discussions, and allow students(particularly boys) to voice there feeling more often, and be more comfortable about themselves.
  • Sep 14 2011: Personally, I believe that the church, family and most community activities preach enough on theology and afterlife. I think that schools need to do more advanced and theoretical classes, not only science, but also advanced mathematics, philosophy, and also general thinking. For too long here at least, schools have gone the way of the vocational school, not in prepping people to learn to lead.

    There also needs to be a balance though with learning how to live and how to think. Also a biggy is on morality, but then who teaches this? The MSNBC, the Fox or the CNN followers....
  • Sep 14 2011: I believe a lesson of life and some ICT lessons is a great lesson for students!
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    Sep 14 2011: touch-typing, sex education, and science based evolution
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    Sep 14 2011: Entrepreneurship and initiative. Devoid of either, we become a stagnant population.
  • Sep 13 2011: less ignorance
  • Sep 13 2011: computers and business management are mandatory as well as foreign relations
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    Sep 13 2011: I think all of the core subjects taught need a serious revamping. In addition to that I'd say classes like dance and art should be added if they are not already in the curriculum, and concentrated on more for certain kinds of learners.
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    Sep 13 2011: Entrepreneurial skills can make a big difference. The classes should be more practical and May be entrepreneurs can do guest lectures to share their experience.
  • Sep 13 2011: The most needed, most desirable and primary subject is without a doubt that of rationally developed ethics . This is so because the influence of parents, family, society, community and religion, which used to provide many ethical standards and concepts, has all changed over time, Most particularly in our rampant, ego-centrically consumer orientated society. Present education does little indeed to help teach democratic values systems and allows long held but socially detrimentally concepts and practices to be exempt from critical analysis and thus helps maintain the status quo. Equally education should be that, never to be used for conditioning or loyalty creation purposes in our fellow citizens and hopefully voters in real democracies.
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    Sep 13 2011: Ethics and self sufficiency.
  • Sep 12 2011: I'm currently a high school student and I can tell you that Home Economics classes have been largely discontinued- and as someone who has absolutely NO domestic skills whatsoever, I really wish we had one. And then there are all the fun classes like Philosophy, or Anthropology, Psychology, etc.
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    Sep 12 2011: How to share, how to get along, how to foster your strengths, how to get along, how to tell stories, how to express yourself, how to problem solve, how to change, how to respect differing opions, how to connect, how to think critically, yet act positively. Art, Music, Sports, Writing - the next renaissance = 22 century skills.
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    Sep 12 2011: 1) How to live
    2) what to do, how to do and what not to do
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    Sep 12 2011: I think an inspiring lesson helping students to find out a lifestyle or a desired way of living is very important, as well as a goal for a life-ong time.
  • Sep 12 2011: Psychology should be introduced to children as soon as possible. So much of school revolves around social contact to the point where when interpersonal problems arise, kids are completely in the dark as to how to handle or make sense of those problems--which can create a bigger distraction and therefore the problems will engage the kids to the point of diminishing returns. With an earlier knowledge of human behavior, kids will better be able to make sense of their peers.

    Creative and Critical thinking should be nurtured a lot more, as opposed to the boring drudgery of memorization that comprises the majority of the curriculum.

    And, along with psychology, self-creation or eccentricity should be taught...The art of evolving as a person is a constant winding path and kids should be taught this phenomenon should be fully embraced.
  • Sep 12 2011: Suggest subjects to be included :
    1. Reality 2. Morality 3. Individual capability 4. Individual potentiality.
  • Sep 12 2011: I'm in School and to be honest we should be able to learn what we want to not have an "Education" forced upon us because the reason so many of us don't end up becoming a a genius is because we can't do what we like to do or what makes us happy because if we could we would all excel at it because feeling fufilled in life is great everyone knows that so right now if i only learn the things required for what makes me happy i will be great at that i won't be a great scientist but i don't like science that much so i'm not going to be happy doing that everyday so all im trying to say is educaion is useless since better things could be achieved so the subject that should be aught is your subject
  • Sep 12 2011: I have enjoyed reading some of the spirited conversation stemming from this topic, even as it has strayed toward other tangents. For me the topic may have less to do with WHAT we teach as opposed to HOW we teach. We currently have so many choices to appeal to students - and so many platforms for the delivery, but I would like to see more "hands on" experiential learning so that "delivery" is actually more of an exercise in discovery. Teachers should have the freedom to co-create these opportunities with their students - without the ever present fear of the standardized test at the end. I have seen some of this already occurring, so I am hopeful that individual learners will have the opportunity to pursue their passions and discover that learning is a lifelong journey.
  • Sep 12 2011: This 2 minute video will explain to all the value of some school subjects. http://youtu.be/9QBv2CFTSWU
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    jag .

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    Sep 11 2011: How to relate to/handle emotions (mainly negative emotions), especially for males.
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    Sep 11 2011: Keep in mind that many social phenomena are phases of an evolutionary process. Sure, kids are going to waste time online and withdraw from the outside world a bit. But the Internet is still new and social networking still newer. We can't predict how the Internet will effect citizens based on what we have observed so far. My feeling is that the novelty will wear off and the mind's innate sense of curiosity will propel people to explore ideas, become impassioned over issues, find a central direction, desire to illuminate mystery, etc. There is a natural tendency for humans to make things better. Technology amplifies this tendency.
  • Sep 11 2011: Schools should teach parenting skills as early as 4th or 5th grade. (10 year olds) and life skills. This means getting along with others, taking responsibility for self and family. In addition to the basic 3 r's include the arts. Music, visual arts, drama and writing are necessary for the balanced mind. They afford students to express themselves in ways which may be very different from the "academic" ways. I could go on and on ....let me know if you want to hear more.
  • Sep 11 2011: I think, given what the world is going through right now, an emphasis needs to be placed on ecology. In high school (for me at least) there was basically no ecology taught, by itself or in a biology class. In post-secondary (so far), the attendance in every ecology class has been very low. It scares me somewhat to think that my generation, which will be important in dealing with climate change and the various other threats to nature, has such a small understanding of how life forms are connected. I have friends who don't realize why it is so essential to protect the oceans, and after discussing this with them I realize they just don't have the knowledge to appreciate how life is connected to the oceans. Everyone should have at least a basic ecological understanding.
  • Sep 11 2011: Creative Problem Solving.
  • Sep 10 2011: Reading, writing, basic math, the scientific method, how to do research/find information, creativity, and how to know yourself.
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    Sep 10 2011: I think we need a proper research to be conducted globally on the subjects to be taught in the Lower KG, Higher KG, 1st, 2nd and 3rd year of the school. By doing this exercise we will come to know not only the subjects as well as will come know schools' teaching style, teachers & students psychology age wise, involvement of technology, school infrastructure, Location of the school and also ambiance etc. There is a good scope of improvement on this if international Bodies, Governments, NGOs, Corporates etc. together helps to sponsor the research & in implementing the recommendations effectively. Please let me know your thoughts.
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    E G

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    Sep 10 2011: in my opinion the subjects that should be taught in schools nowadays are that subjects which develop and help the students to think , to reason on their own (like philosophy..)............ that's what's missing mainly nowadays.
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    Sep 10 2011: In China, I think the best thing is to carry out social skills learning programs.
    In university we learn the textbook knowledge does not fit the needs of society, it is our lack of competitiveness in the community.
  • Sep 10 2011: Teach them what they like too.

    Difficult subjects cause school boys to lose confidence in them; therefore, we need subjects which are not too heavy to understand.
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    Sep 10 2011: Teach World Languages by infusing them with rich cultural and cross-curricular academic content. World Language education promotes multicultural awareness...Multicultural awareness promotes peace. Plus, the benefits of language learning are endless, especially in this global marketplace!

    In addition, I believe service learning projects are extremely important!
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    Sep 9 2011: Considering our political situation right now...i would have to say POLITICS...our country needs more educated young people in our governing bodies. To be able to come up with logical/out of the box solutions, to have the drive ability n stamina to take each task to its ultimate goal.
    To mould young minds right from the start the efficient, corruption free, focused way to run a country....im sure a lot of our youth are geared for it.
  • Sep 9 2011: Math, Physics, Logic, Language, Computer Science, Biology, Sociology, Psychology, (Especially parts which explains on how masses of humans are manipulated), Art, Music and maybe some introduction to economy (but that's domain of mathemathics anyway).
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    Sep 9 2011: More Astronomy. Pretty soon we'll need to be looking for another earth like planet to live on. The more we get on board with this idea and mission, the better.
  • Sep 9 2011: basic finance and credit. life coaching as well.
  • Sep 8 2011: Well I think certain topics within a subject should be taught outside of the classroom walls such as Biology- Going to woodlands. Finance should definitely be taught in schools. I didn't know a thing about how to handle my finances or pensions or taxes etc until I started to go to university... Very overwhelming stuff.

    As well as studying the subjects you've chosen for your (In the UK: A level) exams; home economics, car maintenance, finance should be taught without taking a compulsory exam, it should be optional. It should be relaxing, enjoyable experience to learn these subjects so it relieves any sort of anxiety towards an approaching independant adult life.
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    Sep 8 2011: indeed very true :)
  • Sep 8 2011: I do not think teaching things by subject matter at school is a good idea in the first place. Children should be confronted with inspirational material by teachers, and then be allowed to go on tangents in order to learn what interests them most, and learn all things in context with each other. This is, in my view, the most natural way to learn. Take conversations and internet browsing for example. I know no one who radically and steadfastly remains on one topic of conversation for the pure sake of staying on one topic of conversation. Similarly, on the internet, I find myself reading about capitalism and Christianity at one point, and half an hour later about human rights in the Soviet Union. Teaching should function in a conversational, flexible and dynamic manner. For me, at least, it is the most efficient, satisfying and interesting way to learn.
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    Sep 7 2011: Good idea :)
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    Sep 7 2011: I study youth and community work and to be honest as I am still learning I really think that sociology and psychology subjects should be added in the school Curriculum. The reason why I say this is because then it allows young people to be more critical and aware of what is being said to them, taught to them which then allows them to discuss and decide before accepting unconsciously as if the information given to them is right.

    By teaching young people about these subjects at a young age. It enables young people to reflect and look beyond the paper in front of them as well and I think when a young person is able to this they are also able to be more independent an be self-motivated in the decisions they make.

    :) I believe that biology and health is an important subject as well which enables us to understand our health and how we function physically combined with psychology to understand our brain and the way we think and to add that with sociology so that we know of our surroundings e.g. society, the system politics overall..

    That is what I think anyways :)
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    Sep 7 2011: I'm thinking this is exactly an argument for teaching it :) There's a lot of misinformation out there. Fundamentalist takes on religion do proclaim others as false, this is true. But the vast majority that do not fall into this category do not allow that belief to affect their interactions with others of different religious backgrounds. Yes, there is a long history of blood shed caused by religious "crusades" of one type or another. I would simply add, however, that two of the most gruesome examples of bloodshed in the 20th century (that are responsible for a combined 30 million deaths) were carried out by secularists: Hitler and Stalin. That's the interesting thing about horrific people....being religious isn't a prerequisite.
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      Sep 7 2011: http://youtu.be/ZsNVxW2ufPw that's all I have to say about Hitler.

      Of course you don't need religion to be horrific, but that does not excuse the harm caused in the name of religion. We wholeheartedly condemn Stalinism and fascism, we should too the religious thinking that leads to so much pain and suffering. A totalitarian state is hardly a secular state too. Hitler's Germany had a state religion called positive Christianity. Stalin's USSR sought to dismantle places of worship. Neither of these correspond to a separation of church and state, especially not if your most famous policy is the extermination of a people based on their religious creed.
  • Sep 7 2011: By reinventing the classroom we can for the most part let the students choose what interests them and then balance them with a holistic approach in order to create personalized yet comprehensive experience. The virtual classroom will learn and utilize the individuals needs, abilities and preference then use them to enrich and guide the students journey through the educational system providing them with many customizable options along the way. Schools could create databases, networks, and software that works with AR glasses as well as other electronics some of which may be provided to the students which would supplement and enhance lessons. Basically a classroom within a classroom. It isn't the subject as much as it is how it is taught. In order for the student to better understand and utilize the information being taught, an environment which is conducive to learning for that particular student's process needs to be created by manipulating the way it is presented to them. Just because something is spoken written and/or taught doesn't mean it is understood. One of the reasons for education is to empower the individual so they can be more self sufficient and contribute to the whole. Part of being self sufficient is knowing ones own strengths and weaknesses, desires and aversions, limits and expectations, fears and delights. This knowledge is paramount in making better life choices. Wearable classrooms can help recognize behavioral patterns, stressers, opportunities ect and help students better understand not just the curriculum, but themselves as well.
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    Sep 7 2011: Same as now
    BUT........... with different approaches and goals
    building logic is the key point, but first we have to check what logic is, and how to develop logic
    logic may give the ability to cope with whatever environment the person occupies
    maximize the output of whatever input
    in other words teaching people how to think
    not to let it go by giving knowledge, hoping/pushing the person is a potential whatever
    assuming what the person likes is what he should study

    and sure plumbing and house and car maintenance are knowledge
    and are systems that have its inputs and outputs
  • Sep 7 2011: I think that it is important to teach kids how to grow there own veggies!
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    Sep 7 2011: I think teaching a class about being a global citizen, having strong morals and integrity would solve a lot of problems with society today. However, deciding on the curriculum may be a different issue altogether, perhaps some TED philosophers can offer up some ideas?

    I also think that the proper sourcing and referencing of facts should be taught. Perhaps the biggest strength/weakness of the internet is that anyone can publish anything. Kids and some adults need to learn that just because it is written on the internet, doesn't necessarily mean it's true, and couple with that, people need to learn the value of proper references and peer reviewed literature from an earlier age.

    The other ideas such as "living in society" and Nutrition/Physical Education are all great.
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    Sep 7 2011: More emphasis on the arts for sure.
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    Sep 7 2011: Assuming you are talking about High School, I would ask that a course on "living in our society" be included. The course would cover things like balancing a checkbook, the real cost of a credit card, and especially a section of finding out what you want to do with your life. College is not for everyone, nor is a trade school or a stint in the military. But each is what some people need and students should know what is right for them to start out. From there, the most important class would be "decision making techniques".

    Maybe if these courses were taught, kids wouldn't spend the first years after high school wandering from job to job, or going to college and changing majors six times and then deciding they want to be a car mechanic, etc.
  • Sep 6 2011: i feel in India education just needs to shift from a sort of a mugging pattern to a more solid and understanding based system.I being a student find it personally very frustrating sometimes that what we learn in school isnt even sometimes useful to us.Subjects like philosophy dont eve exist.Science is all about laws and chemical names and formulas but what about the really challenging and intrigueing parts of science like Murphys laws etc
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    Sep 6 2011: 1) It sounds rather cornball-ish but i think Shop is rather important.. or at least some sort of creative arts. People often don't know how to use their hands to create what they need or want and often rely on the ability of others to provide it for them.
    Also, creating a physical object often inters a sense of pride and craftsmanship that i see slowly eroding away as the older generation retires and is replaced by the throw away morality kids are picking up.

    2) I totally agree with Mark Meyer below. Programming or at least the ability to problem solve to the degree he laid out below is a necessary skill.

    (I'm 30 to give you some perspective and no where near retirement.)
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    Sep 6 2011: Spiritual Truth rather than human facts, yeah and consciousness..they could defiantly teach life at school..
  • Sep 6 2011: spirituality.........................................................................................
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      Sep 6 2011: No. No one subject that excludes a whole group of people should be taught. As long as there are atheists and agnostics and people who value being taught facts over musings, you can keep spiritual education to churches and other such organisations.