TED Conversations

  • Ann Lee
  • San Jose, CA
  • United States


This conversation is closed.

I believe the right to an education is a basic human right..what can we do to make that a reality?

Governor Brown just signed the Dream Act and that propelled me to think about how accessible education is in United States and around the world. Education shouldn't be something that only the privileged can afford. What can we do to give every child an opportunity to improve their lives through education?

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    Oct 15 2011: My view is that the cost of formal education is much less an issue than the social context which supports or destroys a students will and capacity to learn. There is very little to support the idea that increased funding leads to better educational outcomes. I would submit that the most critical issue facing our educational system today is the large proportion of students who were born out of wedlock, do not know their father's name and have no role model and little encouragement towards educational success in their home. Home schooled children do extremely well on SAT scores with NO formal teachers or school facilities. Asian immigrants without money or language skills but strong supportive families, have children in college in one generation. It is not the school but the parents who make the difference and no community where unwed motherhood is the 70% norm, is likely to thrive educationally (and hence economically)..

    What is really desperately needed is bottom up community realization that having children without a partner (anther straight or gay) creates an extremely high (though not insurmountable) barrier to educational and life success. No external, top down governmental program (however costly) is likely to be more than a bandaid on a gaping wound.
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      Oct 17 2011: I completeyly agree that family life and early childhood development prime children for educational success later on. However, I don't think that married two-parent families are necessarily the very best environment possible either. Perhaps there is a fundamental problem with the current notion of the family unit and children should be raised in a more communal environment with access to multiple adult caregivers.
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        Oct 17 2011: I did not want suggest that the traditional nuclear family is the only and essential format for raising children who can thrive educationally in the current demanding environment. Various extended family and communal family patterns might do equally as well. However, with rare exceptions, an unwed mother, usually poor and uneducated, with multiple children and multiple unknown fathers who are totally absent from their childrens lives is not a family pattern that is likely to lead to the child's educational success. Who is there to support, encourage and demand success in and from the child and the school? Even divorce, while not optimal, still has the advantage of a father who is usually emotionally and financially committed to his children.
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          Oct 18 2011: Good point, so what can we do to help those without supportive families do better in school?
      • Oct 19 2011: if edu become a human right, who pay for teachers , u must think about it! goverment is not kind enough to pay for this bill!
  • Oct 10 2011: tishe did the best explanation about this question .parents have to support their children's education lives.
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    Oct 27 2011: Great question! And apart from what had been said about the importance and justification of more accessible education, a more practical question might be: can we really afford such equality? Bear in mind that equal right doesn't necessarily mean equal access or even equal opportunity.

    First, we only have certain amount of resources-making them available to more people might mean that each people will have less. For instance, by making more people get into colleges, Chinese government has been in fact lowering the standard and end-result of higher education. And I think that's definitely not something we want to see.

    Second, where exactly can we get the money we need to make such equality happen? in an economy as unstable as now, every governments are facing the problem of deficit. If we are borrowing the money from tomorrow to make the people today to have a more equal education, is that a little unfair for future generation?

    In addtion, I have another concern about the working definition of "equal opportunity". More often than not, a university with a equal opportunity scheme will admit more disadvantaged students even though they have a lower score. but It's really a gray area of fairness. By doing this, we are creating new inequality.
  • Oct 17 2011: Declare something produced a “Basic human Right” means you want a government to take its cost from someone, usually someone else.
    This is called slavery: the taking of another’s production without compensation.
    I am against slavery & I hope you are also.
    If you wish to educate at no cost to you ASK for donations, don’t DEMAND a government enslave others for your enjoyment.
    • Oct 18 2011: I don't know if you were responding to my post but I certainly am not saying I want a government to take the cost from someone else at all. I am against slavery which means I am against money. Money creates slavery through inequality, poverty and is connected to almost every kind of crime that exists in the world. Just why are people so adamant that being born into this thing we call life, on this planet we are destroying, to say you don't have rights? Serious mental illness there. Try if you will to imagine yourself in a different situation where you suddenly don't have rights. The U.S. government has rooms at airports, where if you go in there, you supposedly cease to exist!!!! There are no laws that protect you and they can do whatever they want. And they do. They perform cavity searches, which amount to being raped-by-fist and nothing can be done and no one knows except those who have been released. Of course, people like you would doubt the story and deny rights, until it comes to your door and it will. In the scenario I just told you, you have no rights, even if it occurs in the States and you are a born in the U.S. American!!! Just how is it you think not having rights to what is needed to survive (education fits here), makes any sense at all, and to me, you have admitted you need to be admitted.

      Or do you just prefer to keep people fighting against one another until, until, until, until, what? No one has any rights at all? That will work real well. In fact, that's the direction we are headed. Are you part of the ruling elite? Are you part of the financial elite? If not, then you won't have any rights either. Well, I hope you haven't learned all your lessons yet. :)
  • Oct 15 2011: I do not think that education is a basic human right. The right to potable water,food and a shelter are much more important. Think about it this way : why educate a starving child?
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      Oct 15 2011: Heitham Saad asks a critical question; which rights are MOST basic and how do they affect other rights?
      If humankind focused on balance for all the human family, there would be no need for terrorism.
      If we could learn from our history and evolve consciously.

      Unfortunately those will filled bellies rarely feel physical hunger, just emotional and spiritual hunger. If only we could understand the connections...and educate that.

      Then perhaps education would be a basic right.
      • Oct 16 2011: ",,,there would be no need for terrorism."

        I wish to start and end with this excerpt of your statement because it was so very shocking to read. Humans are imperfect beings, but stating that somehow the basic unfairness of life presents a need for terrorism boggles my mind.
        My belief is that we can get fulfilled physically as well as emotionally if we apply ourselves to the best of our ability. If we feel a need to be significant, perhaps it would be more effective to help someone than to hurt or maim them and by helping them we show a good example for others to follow; ripples in the pond.

        ",,,there would be no need for terrorism."

        Let me close by saying whether state-sponsored or acted out by radical groups, there is no need for terrorism.

        We are all, every single one of us, a bit more clever than that.
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          Oct 16 2011: Tom,

          I'm surprised at your naivety, you must have a full belly.

          My statement is only shocking to those who might stand to lose or who don't want to share something perhaps like yourself. American greed is off the charts, dude.

          Please attempt to justify American consumption which if the world adopted ( and they want to) would require between 4 and 5 planet Earth's according to the ecological footprint analysis? Are you hiding those 3 or 4 other planets from the rest of us? If so, please come clean.

          Gandhi said, "there is enough for every man's need, but not for every man's greed" Can you understand what that means in this context?

          In a world of full bellies where every one's basic needs are met, then hope trumps terrorism because every one has a piece of it.

          In its absence, eventually terrorism becomes present. As Dylan once said, when you ain't got nothing, you got nothing to lose".

          Assuming your an American, you might hearken back to the beginnings of our country. In case you missed it in 6th grade, we fought a war of terrorism against the Brits, to gain our freedom. And it worked until after ww2.

          Then we created a new enemy which President Eisenhower warned us against, The Industrial Military Complex.

          Pogo said it best, 'we have met the enemy and they is us'.

          If you follow history (Tom are you still with me) you will find a succession of wars, skirmishes, bombings and military interventions that have gone on almost non stop since WW 2. Look at the US record of these compared to any other country and what comes to light tom? Is there any reason for the world to see us as the aggressor in the world?

          Perhaps if we could understand how others see us we might be inclined to modify our behaviors. Unfortunately it typically gets drown out with chest thumping and bravado.

          I'd wager that if the captains of our war machines went hungry for a month, maybe just maybe some understanding would creep into their deranged minds. Masters of War - Bob Dylan.
      • Oct 16 2011: You are obviously very well read, good for you.

        I choose to see the world as it really is, in all of it's imperfection, suffering, pain, and unfairness.

        My conjecture stands on it's own merit.

        I will repeat it for you here in case you misunderstood it the first time;

        "Let me close by saying whether state-sponsored or acted out by radical groups, there is no need for terrorism.

        We are all, every single one of us, a bit more clever than that."

        I hope this day brings you happiness.

        Kind Regards,

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          Oct 16 2011: Hi Tom,

          I don't mean no disrespect however I'm wondering by your simplistic response, are you CIA, FBI or Homeland insecurity? Your comments seem to be consistent with those agencies simplistic natures. In my humble opinion.
      • Oct 17 2011: Espousing violence in an arena devoted to spreading ideas because others have different ideas is lacking in persuasion, clearness of thought, and integrity.
        I hope you find peace.
        Kind Regards,
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          Oct 17 2011: Who Tom is espousing violence? I merely said I believe your response is simplistic. Please tell me where my comment or others are espousing violence. If you read carefully ( which is a prerequisite for education) you will see I am merely shining a mirror on the history of violence since WW 2. How do you leap from being a mirror to espousing violence? Perhaps your thinking really shines more light as we in America have a tendency to jump to our own conclusions without the benefit of understanding our history?

          For education to be relevant, we must understand history. Don't you think , Tom?
      • Oct 17 2011: ",,,there would be no need for terrorism."

        Your words espousing violence.
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          Oct 17 2011: Pardon? Suggesting there would be no need for violence is espousing violence? Me thinks you need to go back to English school and learn the definitions of 'no need and espouse'.

          And to help you interrupt in between the lines here, I would like to suggest that systems which continue to distribute basic necessities to the highest bidder accentuates poverty.

          As Gandhi once said, "Poverty is the worse form of violence"

          And just for the record the statement I said is, "If humankind focused on balance for all the human family, there would be no need for terrorism". Tom your attempts to focus on what you want and not on what I said seems somehow connected to my feeling your FBI, CIA or Homeland insecurity. You didn't deny it. If so, why not spend your time chasing the real enemies.

          Tom there are many forms of violence of which increasing poverty is a major one. Would you agree?
      • Oct 18 2011: Your words;

        ",,,there would be no need for terrorism."

        Some definitions;

        need   [need]
        noun; a requirement, necessary duty, or obligation.

        ter·ror·ism   [ter-uh-riz-uhm]
        noun; the use of violence and threats to intimidate or coerce, especially for political purposes.

        Since when was there an obligation or requirement to use violence, threats, or intimidation in our short lives???

        Let me state my point again;

        ",,,whether state-sponsored or acted out by radical groups, there is no need for terrorism.

        We are all, every single one of us, a bit more clever than that."
    • Oct 16 2011: Education will never be a basic right.
      Every one is arguing about so much! There are babies starving, being beaten, being sold, BEING killed!
      Yep, educate that! Man, humans are so weird!
      Craig, I like your comment! :) With Respect To Ya!
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        Oct 17 2011: I think the only way that the other basic human rights (food, shelter,healthcare) WILL be met is if education becomes a basic human right. Educating people empowers them to create solutions to these problems by facilitating improved technology and communication so that we can all work together to alieviate human suffering.
        • Oct 18 2011: Hi and with the utmost respect to ya!
          We will never alleviate "human suffering"
          It is a sad fact. It hurts my soul so much!
          Education will never be a right. (it should be) but it will never be. Someone has to pay for it!
          Healthcare is not a right. (it should be) but it will never be. Someone has to pay for it.
          All these "rights" you are telling me about. They are not rights! We have lost all our rights. NOW, we are adding more rights on to the list? Please remember, all these rights, cost money! I live in the U.S. The U.S. is supposed to have rights. This is a very sad world!
          With the Respect to Ya!!! Children need an education, BUT, it is not a right. Take Care You!
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          Oct 18 2011: I am sorry to interrupt the conversation that both of u had been doing. But could not really stop myself from replying. With all due to respect to your opinion and a mix of ignorance.
          "Education will never be a right. (it should be) but it will never be. Someone has to pay for it!"
          The point which I was tryin to make from start there is free schooling and free food concept everywhere. That’s too naive to comment that way. It does not mean that there is no poverty, yes there is, It does not mean I have not seen hungry child’s photo from SA. Yes I have and it hurts badly, but it hurts even more badly when people comment that there can nothing been done with education to eradicate that. It’s like all the work.. Free food.. Free education various NGO's and other self initiative groups are doing is being done for nothing??See You may still say someone is paying.. May be from tax..Self nominated donors that give NGO's money but from poor child's family it is still for free....It’s all about perception...
          I would just share a small and true story...A little gal from Kerala (INDIA) Lived in a family of 5.One sister, one brother and parents. Her father was a truck driver. They had very little source of income to feed all. They sometimes had to eat very little may be even skip lunch or dinner for that matter. They had no choice but to send that little gal to school, You know why cause that school gave free lunches at afternoons. She studied developed her own thinking, Realized the value of studies in her life. Got into part time teaching and paid very nominal charges for secondary school (Higher school).got some money from scholarship did a part time course in Typewriter and short hand writing. Went to Mumbai city and is now P.A to DGM in MTNL.She is my mom. If it was not for her studies I would have been a truck driver or farmer trying to earn my leaving rather than sitting in an AC office of ORACLE commenting on your post.
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          Oct 18 2011: I have seen people grow in KERELA.Back when I went over there 10 years ago and now it’s a vast difference. The standard of leaving is much high even for a labor as his son is now an engineer. You can take it negatively saying there are very little people left doing your household jobs which was a major part of lifestyle in INDIA, but it definitely raised the lifestyle. Again I am not refuting that there are no poor hungry child dying out of hunger but yes Food and shelter is their basic necessity but of course you cannot deprive them of education as well. There are free education provided by individuals and groups. Its people like us they go on holidays and free time to educate children’s deprived of education here in INDIA.
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        Oct 17 2011: Tishe : you are right in your own way,
        But we have a sayin here If you feed a hungry child U have done great job but you have to do it every day for the rest of his life.
        Educate him you have given him a way to earn food for lifelong.Think about it..
        Thats how Kerela goevrnment in INDIA has irradicated poverty to great extent if not fully removed it.
        Education is a powerful tool to remove poverty if we dont belive it,Its harder for us to make rural or poor people belive it.
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        Oct 18 2011: No apology needed, this is an open conversation! You say that Heathcare and Education will never be rights because someone has to pay for them but in my country we already have healthcare for everybody: the government pays for it out of tax dollars. It is one of the things Canadians are most proud of and no one minds paying a little extra in taxes in exchange for not having to worry about bankruptcy when they get sick. And other countries have free University education as well. If it can be done in some countries, why not worldwide?
        • Oct 18 2011: In all honesty, I do not know.
          Canadians are cool! oh, American's do not like paying extra taxes! (i don't know why?)
          Smile and be the cool name, you are!
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      Oct 17 2011: Heithan

      Well we can educate that child so he or she is skilled enough to acquire food and shelter and empowered enough to ensure that their drinking water is not stolen or polluted.
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      Oct 17 2011: We have to see the word "right".....today a lot of things are "rights"...this is a matter of juridical status....laws, codes, judges, declarations,....
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    Oct 14 2011: Education is hardly a basic human right, it is a personal responsibility or at most a societal one. After all, as has been stated here, an educated citizenry benefits all of society in numerous ways, least of which is the ability to be competitive on the Global scene.
    But not everyone can become Doctors or Lawyers, nor would everyone chose to. As citizens we have individual choices to make, don't we? Sometimes our economic status limits our choice and I suppose this is where the question of Basic Rights come in. It needn't though, because there are already ways within the education system to assist the individual. These systems of, grants, bursaries and other financial aids may not meet every need, but I doubt that any system would.
    Where I believe that our already free education system is failing is much earlier in the process (K-GD12). Let us all work at doing a better job here before transferring the same meager results to our higher educational facilities.
    I am certain these facilities would welcome more tax payer funded students into their rolls, because their whole purpose, it seems is filling spaces and growing business. And it is a business no question; the University graduate's average income in Canada is just above 17K, because many are coming out unprepared and with useless degrees.
    I believe that as a society we must do a better job early on in the education system at identifying students talents in different areas of study and interest and assisting those students in whatever way that they may need assistance (that may not necessarily mean finances) to realize their full potential.
    The system that identifies these individuals, of course must evaluate each child equally and without prejudice.
    Our society needs an educated citizenry, no doubt, but one does not need a Law degree if one loves design and shows the aptitude to becoming an architect.
    Education; societies responsibility, but not a Human Right.
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      Nov 9 2011: Yeah, I agree you in some extend. But, I think Education is Societies responsibility as well as a basic Human Right. Of course to be educated is our responsibility. But to better the environment for education is also what the governments should do.
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        Nov 9 2011: Many Western societies have taken responsibility for educating its citizens. The primary years of education are free and everyone must participate to some extent. We make these decisions as a society, not because we see it as A Basic Human Right, we do it because our society benefits when the citizenry is educated and is able to compete Globally. It simply just makes sense.
        However as adults we get to make our own decisions don't we?, some choose to go on to Higher education while others get involved in the Trades, some choose neither and become Business owners, entrepreneurs or laborers, etc.
        We get to choose the level of education we want for ourselves and herein lies the Basic Human Right, CHOICE. The individuals right to choose, and not the collectives insistence is the Basic of all Human Rights.
        So I can agree with you that as a society we do have a responsibility to educate our citizenry, we are all better for it, but when we speak of Human Rights we risk a challenge to the most Basic Of Human Rights, Choice.
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    Oct 10 2011: we must make that as a law in UN to make all government compulsory to educating their people.
    • Oct 17 2011: Declare something produced a “Basic human Right” means you want a government to take its cost from someone, usually someone else.
      This is called slavery: the taking of another’s production without compensation.
      I am against slavery & I hope you are also.
      If you wish to educate others at no cost, EARN the money yourself or ASK for donations. Don’t DEMAND a government enslave others to satisfy your wishes.
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        Oct 17 2011: Hi Howard, what can i earn from compulsory education for every country? just for developed community, when you have an education people how can that reflect on a governments the first beneficial side the governments itself, the another thing from that the educated people they will give to governments the money by their innovations. I'm not A man who is responsible to make this idea in UN, all i earn from that to make you educated person by that will effect on my live to be a better life.
  • Oct 10 2011: The answer is in the brief explanation that you gave for this question:

    "Education shouldn't be something that only the privileged can afford."

    These days, you can't expect to get something you don't pay for. Why would our current system of education be any different? The solution is to transform the diluted profession of education into a concentrated industry of professionals that love their work.
    As for concrete answers, I am still puzzled.
    Great question, Cathy
  • Oct 10 2011: somewhere money means right ,no money no right ,especially in china , education sounds like bullshit
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    Oct 10 2011: I agree with Tishe. Parents are the spark of education. So with that, I will try to answer your question.

    I think that, since parents are the beginning of education and a great foundation would be best for one's life, it would make sense to give parents the best possible tools and information to use for their children. However, it would also be pertinent to help (future) parents realize that they are the first steps of their children's education - hopefully influencing a good amount of action by the parents.

    So basically, the best we can do is provide the necessary tools and information and educate wisely in order to provide education to everyone.
  • Oct 10 2011: Hi Cathy,
    With the utmost respect to you.
    The poor and the privileged, have the right to an education.
    IT is the parents!
    Every child has a opportunity, to get a education.
    It is up to the parent, or, parents.
    Why are we relying on the states to educate our children? They are our babies, our children; our teen- ager's?
    There is no "right" to a education. IT must start with the parent, OR, parents.
    Govern Brown is a butt head. (California is in a sad place)
    With Respect To Ya!
    • Oct 14 2011: so tishe. If you have happen to be born to parents who are drug addicts and don't give a s*** about you, you shouldn't be allowed the chance to get an education?

      You say it MUST start with parents. Well you're screwed because your parents want drugs more than paying your tuition to Stanford! Tough luck kiddo!

      All these comments are ridiculous. You are trying to solve a question that has a million variables. Impossible to answer. But I think each country is really trying!

      And I hate politics entering the occasion, but at least President Obama of the USA has made it easier to get student loans by eliminating banks as the middle man. Each country is made better by the percentage of its citizens who are educated. The problem with this question is to what degree of education? 8th grade? high school. Baccalaureate degree..post-grad? No school..just learn by being outside? (I am being facetious here.) Narrow your question and you will get higher quality comments/answers. Whoops, my professor status is showing!
      • Oct 14 2011: That is a good question professor!
        It has to start with the parents! Okay, if a child has a fu---ked up parent or parents, then the state takes over. Right? Oh, how is the state doin?
        You are giving praise to Obama for giving student loans. BUT questioning me about crappy parents? There is a big difference between a child and a student loan from obama. So, professsor, what is your, real solution? Cathy did a fine job on her question! As for me, please do not ever Rate my comments again! I did not come on this excellent forum to be rated by a professor! Professor's are over rated. With Respect to Ya professor!
        • Oct 17 2011: Well as a teacher...I should tell you that the plural for professors is professors, not the possessive form "professor's" as you wrote.

          And to say professors are over rated..well there is no comeback to such an asinine comment. So you are smarter than any teacher you have ever had? That is what professors are...teachers.

          And who are you to decide who rates your comments? You must live in a very isolated ivory tower where no one is allowed to speak unless you allow them! Ahh. the royalty!
      • Oct 17 2011: "If you have happen to be born to parents who are drug addicts and don't give a s*** about you, you shouldn't be allowed the chance to get an education?"

        Dolts see Bigger Government as the solution to problems. The imaginative & educated see hard work, scholarships, charity, loans, etc. as paths to financing a college education.

        Helen O kekai, Please try to keep comments reflecting very limited imagination to yourself.
        • Oct 18 2011: Good comment! Interesting and a very debatable one!!
      • Oct 18 2011: Thank you for the lesson, Ms. Helen.
        With respect, I am very far, from living in an ivory tower.
        I have been asking around, to other humans. The question was, "is education a right?"
        A very much, 50/50 split. Then I asked about teachers. Not a good response! (sorry) I will go back out there and ask about proffersors. (sp?) Spell check, went tits up! Take Care and good luck in educating the masses.
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    Nov 4 2011: Sadly, this problem can never truly be addressed in an environment with a politically corrupted system governing. The solution has everything to do with resource allocation not oil acquision and wars.

    One day, this great country will be led and/or influenced by the scientists and engineers-- people who actually understand and are subject matter experts in terms of resource allocation and sustainability. I hope it's not too late to let conventional wisdom someday have a chance to reflect a culmination of intelligence gathered and shared among the people, through all ages of time...
  • Nov 3 2011: I agree. The problem is access. At the start of the solution is finding a way to reach people. Of all the technologies available the cell phone is one of the most readily and widely adopted. If you can start people wanting to learn then they will seek out other opportunities. I also think that mobile education units, similar to Fab Labs, should be made available. There could be mobile labs that allow people to 'play' with technologies. A mobile chemistry lab that also provides techniques for easing everyday burdens and preventing disease. Artificial bodies that can train medical personell where there are none. Combine the storytelling traditions of most cultures with a roving library/theatre where the elders can tell their stories, and perhaps travel with, and then have others act them out. It's a great excuse to expose people to great literature and possibly discover great timeless stories as well. A game truck that teaches observation and basic physics both in their environment and with materials they dont have available.

    Im sure a lot of this is pie in the sky. I firmly believe that people only learn and explore if they want to. Schools' rote training is the death of creativity and invention. Luckily that's not all most schools do.

    Get them exposed to the idea and then expose folks to the tools and techniques.
  • Nov 2 2011: Fascinating topic.

    We must be very careful in expressing these important concepts (education, health care, food) in terms of basic human rights. For when we do so, we risk making of another man a slave. After all, if it is a "right" then someone must provide it. And if no one is motivated to do so, then in order to preserve everyone's rights, we will end up coercing people to work to meet those obligations (violating the rights of one person to preserve another's).

    Rights are those protections we have from governmental abuses, often granted to win consent of the governed. We have the right to life (the government may not take our lives without due process), to property (ditto), to the franchise, and various others. In the U.S., a number of them are stated explicitly in the Constitution, others have been created by Court actions. But we tread dangerous ground when we change rights from protection (i.e., what government may not do to us) to rights that require someone else be coerced into work on our behalf.

    Perhaps there is a better way of expressing the sentiment?
  • Oct 18 2011: "Critical Thinking,"....... examine assumptions, discern HIDDEN values, evaluate evidence, and asses conclusions, but never blindly accept arguments and conclusions.

    "Trust no one, and question every thing."

    If people would put this to work in their every day life, they could actually be their own teachers. If you know how to read, and you are able to use "critical thinking," with all the information out there on the web, you can learn just about anything.

    I'm finding out that if you really want to learn about a particular thing, you just have to do some investigating for your-self. Would it be equivalent to getting a college degree?

    Do we haft to have a "document" or a "piece of paper" saying that we are smart enough to do a particular thing?

    Can we become a lawyer or doctor with out going to college?

    Maybe we need to give our-self's, our own education.
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    Si Xie 10+

    • +1
    Oct 18 2011: Let's assume that education is a basic human right, like the right to live.

    Then face this question into two different situation:

    One, you or your family don not have the financial ability to afford you to the school. If somebody like the government have policy to afford you to have a education in low price or even free. You have the right to be educated and the policy protect this right. In this situation, you just basically have the chance and oppotunity to go to school. In this situation, government can help a greater people go to school or be educated while using the relative policy.

    Another situation is that you already have the financial ability to school or be educated, but you do not have the equal change to have the same chance to go to a nice college or instuctor, is that violet the basic right of you? Is this unfair? Also, as for a international student, should he or she have the same chance with US residents when applying a school in US? Moreover, if you are the resident in this states, you are prior to go to the college in your own place than people out of the state.

    Basically, the last situation is just built on the people who already have the oppotunities in eduaction, but not in a equal way.

    So if education is a basic right of human, it not only can be accessed, and also be fair to every one...

    Hence, this issues can be involve not only the society and government, also the institute that provide the education.
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    Oct 18 2011: A great deal of energy and money is being expended trying to address this question. Once you have a child without support at home, options are limited and results very spotty. I am on the board of our local Boys and Girls club which attempts, with some success, to be a surrogate family for kids who lack a real one. Mentoring, tutoring and a wide variety of social services and charitable initiatives make some small dent in the problem. I favor Charter and Voucher schools, merit pay for teachers and a number of other educational reforms. But frankly, the positive effect of these changes benefit mostly kids who already have a cohesive home life and just need a little extra push and structure. While I am very critical of the teacher's unions for opposing some of these reforms, I do think they are getting basically a bad rap for the failure of our educational system when the real problem is at home....or the lack of same. The real question should be "How can we convince people, in a country where both contraception and abortion are legal, not to have children they can't support either with time or money out of wedlock ". I have no proposed answer, only the question.
  • Oct 17 2011: Incentives.

    No matter your opinion on whether education should be considered a basic human right, or how much of a role government should play in delivering education, I think most would agree that better education is a good thing for society at large.

    We can dream up recommendations to change schools, parents, or communities to create better and more accessible education. But without incentives to act on those recommendations, no one will act, and they will just be fantasies. So I think a question we should also ask is: how do you create incentives for people, whether it's parents, community members, government workers, teachers, or students, to create better education? How do you make people care and act?

    I can only think of two ways to motivate people in this way: via money or by appealing to their social conscience.

    We also could benefit from more incentives to experiment and innovate in education. Because frankly, we don't know how to deliver education in a meaningful way to many people, such as the underprivileged, impoverished, malnourished, abused, neglected, etc.

    So whether you believe in education as a basic right or not (and I argue that this is a matter of belief rather than debate), how might we get people to care enough about education to act? Money? Leadership? Social pressure? Laws?
  • Oct 17 2011: Education is NOT a basic right. Peace and food aren't even rights. If you do want to diffuse information though, the internet (once infrastructure is set in place) will play a pivotal role.
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    Oct 17 2011: Cathy, education is not a "right" ...its an attitude. With or without teacher, school or pupil.
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    Oct 17 2011: I believe the right to an education is a basic human right..what can we do to make that a reality?

    I would rather say it is a reality in some part of the world.One that I know is Kerela which is a state in south INDIA were literacy rate is 94.59%.
    Its because of some initiatives taken by state government of Kerela and groups.
    1.Awareness of the importance of education for personal growth especially in rural areas.
    2.This might sound tricky but it works.Some get attarcted because of the fact that their children would get free Lunch in school.It certainly motivates people from rural areas to send their childrens for education.
    3.School for females and poor people with low fees or none.
    4.Making Schools that impart "How to live" rather than "How to earn".Schools should not be taken as a part of buisness or commercial institute which these days is more often then not.
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    Oct 17 2011: We need to recognize that all videos, textbooks, and interactive tutorials can be recreated at zero marginal cost. It is no longer necessary to go to school to learn. It is, however, necessary to go to school to certify that you have acquired knowledge/expertise.

    The absurd cost of higher education has to do more with the social stratification / peacocking value of education, not the edification value.

    I think we can solve this by encouraging the creation of alternative credentialing systems:


    We should also limit income to 2 million dollars per year by raising the top marginal tax rate and capital gains taxes. Wasteful "peacocking" is an arms race that has led to the cost of education rising 4 times faster than the cost of inflation. If you don't believe in the artificial scarcity of knowledge/education, this is morally reprehensible:


    One final idea - make student loans dischargeable in bankruptcy! In an age in which all videos and textbooks and interactive tutorials can be recreated at zero marginal cost, it is completely wrong to force students to pay tens of thousands of dollars as an entry fee just to enter the labor market. We should be encouraging young people to become as educated as they like, not excluding them from knowledge/licenses and then turning them into indentured servants because the baby boomers wrecked the economy. The non-dischargeability of student loans is a huge pay-off to the older, have generation from the younger, have-not one. Ridiculous and disgusting.
  • Oct 16 2011: How are we educated to tie are shoes, use the potty, brush our teeth? Parents are teachers, even though for only a few years until their kids go to school, but they are teachers none the less. Just imagine if everyone who wanted to be a parent had to go to school to do so. And had to learn how to give their children an education up until they reach sixth grade status. There would probably be a huge reduction in the sizes of families across the world, which would give more opportunity for better education, and maybe give us more time before our natural resources are depleted, unless we come up with some other kind of energy source. I think parents have to be more accountable for teaching and educating their kids them-self's, take more responsibility. But that will never happen, sadly too say, but it would be a good start, would it not?
    • Oct 17 2011: Yes! A human has a first teacher, the parent. (teacher's are over rated)
      It is a sad world, when we have to rely on the government, to teach a child!
      Okay Dan, I apologize for the ramble. Your comment hits a point!
      Humans will always rely on the government and the educational hand outs.
      Pretty scary! Good comment and Thank You!
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        Oct 17 2011: Sure, but not all parents are equally qualified to be teachers. Preparing food and tying our shoes are basic skills that everyone needs to learn but human civilizations rely on specialization to thrive. A single person cannot conquer what we have learned collectively as a species over hundreds of generations. What happens when that child grows up to want to be an astronaut, geneticist, engineer, musician...?
        • Oct 17 2011: Hello Letitia,
          A parent is qualified! (unless the parent is an idiot) When said child grows up, they WILL thank the parent! ( why is this hard to understand?)
          I guess, we have to teach humans, how to keep their knees closed. (who will pay for that?) With Respect to ya!! I love your name!
        • Oct 27 2011: As a homeschooler I can tell you that there is a limit to what one individual can teach a child. The child may not be willing to learn and thwart you at every turn. You ma not be albe to teach the child in a way or to the extent that he needs to learn. The real trick is to get the child to want to learn independently. My child's High School Home School experience are not very good. He knows a lot about a few scientific subjects, mechanics, and electronics. His math and humanities are terrible. I have hope he will pick those up when he goes to Community College this January.

          In case you missed it- the world is full of morons and sex happens even to the most careful and conservative of people.
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        Oct 17 2011: Thanks, I go by "Tisha" so I keep confusing myself with you! I'm not saying the parent isn't important, just that people differ in their ability to teach in the same way people's skills in anything differ. Why not let people who excell at teaching and have trained to be even better at it do the teaching? Parents will still need to be involved: in teaching their children basic skills, encouraging them to do well in school, provioding emotional support, and certainly they deserve appreciation for their contribution, whatever it may be.

        I'm not sure I understand what human's keeping their knees closed has to do with this conversation? Or why that needs to cost someone financially?
        • Oct 17 2011: "keeping their knees closed has to do with this conversation? Or why that needs to cost someone financially?"

          The answer is fundamental: Personal Responsibility, without which the civil society breaks into chaos.

          It is a fact in the USA unwed motherhood in the teenage years is the FASTEST route to poverty & enslavement by dependence on Government & taxpayer subsidy.

          There has been a LOT of parent bashing on this blog which I find repulsive. By far the great majority of married parents worldwide care for their children. To give a few horrible scenarios & jump to the conclusion the best parent is the Government is a guaranteed ride to a population of know-nothings enslaved by their Government Dependence.
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        Oct 17 2011: Sure, but wouldn't better education be the best way to prevent unwanted teenage pregnancies?
        • Oct 20 2011: Education has a lot to do with women's view on pregnancy, mainly in the child barring years of women.
          It has been proven in France, Italy, and Scandinavian Countries, that they have tried giving out rewards (incentives), to families to increase the fertility rate in their countries, such as; family allowances, free medical care,extended maternity leaves, and child care, for first, second, and later births.
          But despite those rewards, the reproduction rates are still falling.
          In 2003, all 43 European Countries had fertility rates below replacement levels, and the reason for this, they concluded that,cultural and personal lifestyle decisions which are influenced by the increased education levels of "women."
          With this information they predict, for example, the populations of Spain and Italy to shrink by a quarter between 2000 and 2050. Europe to shrink by 70 million by mid-century.
          Educated "women" are making a big difference in the worlds population, now and in the future.
          So I guess that "education" may have something to do with those "knees" being closed.
        • Nov 2 2011: I'd say no. If education were the cure-all for human behavior, there would be no fat teachers and no fat nurses.
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        Oct 17 2011: Tishe, I just realized that I'm baiting you a little because of an emotional reaction to one of your comments:

        I think many people have made a valid point about the family environment being an important contributing factor to educational success. However the phrase "keeping your knees closed" offended me because it implies that sex is a negative activity, when the cause of unwanted pregnancies is more appropriately attributed to missuse of birth control and safe sex practices. The term also implies that the responsibility to avoid pregnancy lies with women only since they would be the ones "opening their knees".

        Hope that helps you understand my reaction to your comment.
        • Oct 18 2011: I apologize, right back, to ya!!
          Do not worry about "baiting" me. It is all cool! No worries!
          I have an opinion, like you! Humans are wonderful! (yet, so weird, yes?)
          Oh, for the record, it will always be the woman's responsibility. Sorry, we have tried to change this, ain't happen'! So cowboy up females, we are stuck with it!! Take Care!! Love your name!!
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        Oct 23 2011: @Dan: Not enough babies in some parts of the world and too many in others....seems like arbitrary borders are getting in the way of what should be an obvious solution...?
  • Oct 15 2011: Cathy,

    This is a great question that I think deserves a lot of brain power put into it. Educating the people of the world is a noble goal, and one based on the moral premise that all people are worth educating. I think every person, even starving children, could only benefit from increased access to information and challenges put to them by role model figures such as teachers.

    II'm not sure if I agree that education is a political right, but that's just a matter of semantics. What I do think is a right, is access to education. That is to say, I think it is wrong to impose limitations on who has access to education. One vital way this is done, is through money. Either you have it, and you can get an education; or you don't, and you can't.

    I think in order to encourage freer access to information, it is important that people identify the values that they feel are important, internalize those values, and then express the values. As an example, I value creativity greatly, and think that is a crucial component of psychological development. And so, when a friend of mine writes a poem that is just terrible, and I have read some really terrible poetry in my time, I encourage them to write more. I don't tell them that they should stop wasting their time, because they'll never make it as a poet. I tell them that what they've done is amazing and important. I hope this one example communicates my intention clearly.

    Technology is a critical component of this question. We need to invest in next-gen education hardware and software to broaden the base of accessibility to education, as well as improve ease of use. The internet, and projects like Wikipedia, while imperfect, are communal projects which give us access to huge troves of information, and enable us to do the self-directed learning we do naturally.

    My thoughts: the keys to providing education to more people worldwide are 1) a greater valuing of education as a culture, 2) new developments in technology.
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    Oct 15 2011: All start in the family...you can start in your family....with the common sense and respect fot others...non virtual education....real education....by facts.....doing the right thins ...the example is the best education.
  • Oct 15 2011: (TED didn't allow me to reply, so here it is)
    Helen & Linda - Thank you for these replies. Healthy conversation is always the way to go.

    Jake, please allow me to ask you a few questions that will hopefully give you a different insight on what you were previously saying.

    You've said that not everyone should go to college. Let's take a step back. Why should anyone get an education? Is it because it allows them to get a job? Is it because it is the only way to make a respectable living in today's society? To want an education, should it not be aimed towards learning what you are interested in? So, saying that there should be people who get an education and others who don't is to say that some should be able to learn about their interests and others shouldn't. Isn't that wrong? Anyone who wants to do something can do it, if they profoundly want to do it for themselves and for no other reason. Not for money, not for prestige, not for the respect of their parents. All these things become unimportant when you really understand who you are and what you wish to do with yourself for the 80+ years you are alive.

    I also want to give attention to this next thing you wrote. "Everyone is not equal." I know you were possibly talking specifically on a financial level, but let's take another step back anyway. Saying that everyone is not equal is assuming that people, or their minds rather, are something you can calculate. Can you put a number on someone's mental abilities or thought process? I don't believe we have the technology to do so. An IQ test is merely a set of questions which,
    when answered, reflect the amount of time previously spent on these types of questions. Someone can have an incredible lack of cultural, mathematical, logical knowledge but, on the other hand be so incredibly talented on a creative level.

    All this said, I think you should give more thought to these things.

    I appreciate your comment, although I don't fully agree with most of it.

    Think freely.
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      Oct 15 2011: I doubt Jake laments the need for one to pursue their passion. While he asserts college is not for everyone, I can only half-agree with him because he positions the argument merely on societal placement, and within a dualistic premise that either one has the "intellect," or not, for such careers that almost absolutely require a degree. And also that intellect and physical labor are exclusive of one another, which I don't agree with, either.

      There also seems to be an implication that college = education, or that college is the only venue for the commodity now known as "an education." Many TED speakers have talked about our human capacity, on how we learn, and how we deliver what we teach. The brimming consensus from the speakers on the matter is that education is personal where the depth of one's talent is measured by their individual brilliance, and sometimes this is discovered and developed experientially without the 100% aid of stately institutions or private ones.

      But this doesn't nullify the benefits of college. It's good for some pursuits, and others not. It also depends greatly on the inquirer capacity to learn solo, or to supplement that in other creative ways in which colleges are incapable of (not just internships). And in other situations, as many entrepreneurs and start-up leaders would allege, the learning is entirely experiential rather than all classroom.

      So, we can twist Cathy's original notion that not only should an education be something that the privileged can acquire, but that education is not something only the privileged mass can organize and teach.
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    Oct 15 2011: There aren't enough educational resources in the world so not everyone can go to into good school and listen from great teachers.
    However i believe that instead of education, open source learning materials/tools, wikipedia, Khan Academy and many others, are possible to be distributed/accessed universally with continually price decreasing of hardware. Thus anyone who has the motivation to learn and study can do it by themselves.
  • Oct 15 2011: Boy, am I going to regret this comment!!
    Have read the comments, excellent ideas!
    We are relying on the parents, to begin the fundamentals of education.
    (WHICH, we should) On the other hand, we are in the company of crappy parents.
    Soo, the obvious answer is, the government. We are witnessing crappy governments!
    Soo, it must come down to the parents. (right?) What ever happened to human dignity and self?
    We have to stop relying on the government! The government does not have a clue. Crappy parents, don't have a clue! With Respect!!
  • Oct 14 2011: Cathy....First it is already happening and despite governments, a perceived lack of funding and the existing methods used to teach impeding education. The first is the world's largest library and greatest invention....the Internet, the sharing of all information. The second is defining what the purpose of school is....(and sadly if you ask 100 teachers few, best case, will answer correctly).....to learn to think....and instilling those 4 words into all students. The third is a mentor. How can you impact this....it's actually simple. Stand up at a PTA meeting (or any other educational convention and simply ask three questions. Why can't all classes be put on the Internet? Why can't I work on a subject area of choice, particularly in an ever increasing world of specialization, and why can't I study from home over the Internet with instant access to my mentor (teacher)? All is technologically possible and far less expensive than traditional schools? It will happen....but you can move the process forward by being active... or bug me in a year when the website is up that addresses this and other problems our country has with simple solutions. If you need some cost data or benefit analysis let me know.
  • Oct 13 2011: I think that a couple of things are going on right now that would help this along. Certainly the Khan Academy is a great start, it has some short coming but give it time and it will iron them out. The other thing that is happening is this one computer one village initiative. To leave a device the out that supports the natural curiosity that children have is a wonderful thing. In time this will definitively move some kids out of poverty and isolation and in to the global community, when that happens then they can tell us what we can do to help others like themselves. I really think that they (who every they are) will tell us (who every we are) what to do. I do what i can i have my own website an i get visitors from 40+ different countries