TED Conversations

Megan Summers

Impact Entrepreneurship Group


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Is the internet, not formal education, the new great equalizer?

Education then, beyond all other devices of human origin, is the great equalizer of the conditions of men, the balance-wheel of the social machinery. – Horace Mann


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  • Oct 8 2011: A CHALLENGE: Stop complaining and turn those that "fetishize" a technology into active supporters. I would have loved to have had the internet access in 1964 in Malaysia.

    I SPEAK FROM EXPERIENCE, not just reading. I was there, lived it, improved, in a small way, their life. Example follows. Also, the "great equalizer" is not feeding people, etc. It is enabling people to feed themselves, etc. "Teach a man/woman/child to fish."

    I recall hearing, while serving as a Peace Corps volunteer in 1964 in very rural Malaysia, a radio playing music. It was a battery powered radio, with an antenna strung up a +/-100 foot tall jungle tree. That radio, as well as a subsequent road into the village, provided access to knowledge that opened up the inhabitants to ways of learning and "doing" to improve their lives.

    The internet can do the same, in a SUBSTANTIALLY more effective way, including bringing the plight of the less fortunate to the eyes and hearts of the more fortunate, eliciting support in ways that print, radio and TV never could. The two way visual communication is a great tool for you.

    Real world example: with the support of the Catholic Relief Services we started a school lunch program utilizing food from the Service, cooking utensils from the local government, and labor of the teachers and parents.

    With the internet I could have more quickly set up the project, found more outside help, and provided more support for teaching youngsters and adults.

    Instant communication between Malaysia and the world could have provided additional assets with which to teach a man/woman/child "to fish" (we taught them how to raise fish by the way). More real world examples available.

    So, challenge those you chastise as well as those that respond here. Use the internet (instant photos/stories) to educate those that "fetishize a technology" about how it can be utilized in your country. ASK THEM TO STEP UP WITH ACTIVITY - WE BOTH KNOW TALK IS CHEAP.

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