TED Conversations

Dominic Randolph

Head of School, Riverdale Country School


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How can we teach young people the mindset and skills to be effective social innovators, and therefore, change schools for the good?

If we want students to be better thinkers, better ethicists, better scientists and better historians? To what ends?

It would seem that having students understand the ways that change can happen and be managed in order to improve the place they live in or the broader global community must be an essential element of a good education.

I wonder if we can better define the mindset (a la Dweck) of the mindset of great social innovators, assess those capacities in formative ways and construct educational experiences in schools that will lead to the development of these mindsets in ALL children.

Having students understand that they can be changemakers as Ashoka Youth Venturers do and the students at Kiran Sethi's Riverside School in India understand would be an amazing goal for all schools and universities? How can we get this to happen more comprehensively and force change on the educational system?


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  • Feb 26 2011: Over a period of time, transit form the failing, rule-based, compliance, feedback systems of late modernity to the consent-based, democratic, open systems of post-modernity.

    In late modernity, enablement comprises prerequisites of empowerment. This reflects top-down reformist technocratic/meritocratic expert-based elitist systems in which reality both scientific and social is understood in terms of rules. And more rules. Do as we say (comply) for ten or fifteen years and we might let you have a life. Modernity is not democratic - it is legalistic.

    Place empowerment before enablement so that processes of enablement are shaped by the empowered.
    Democratize schools. Completely.
    • Mar 2 2011: Eric, from an academic perspective, I would contest your notion of modernity because there are so many modernities out there. Not all of them are democratic. Asia grapples with the negotiation of modernity - is it technological advancement, economic growth, an emulation of the Western capitalist democratic system? Is it something else?

      I think you have to be much more specific with what you mean in terms of the democratization of schools. What do you mean by that? Do you mean more student input? Do you mean more integrated learning? Do you mean an overhaul in the grading system and curriculum? Why do you think democratizing schools will equal immediate empowerment? If we were to look at democracies today - are all groups empowered very simply because they are in a democracy?

      I'm not arguing against the idea of democracy, nor the idea that there is a great gap between the way our societies think and operate now than 100 years ago. However, I'm just challenging you to define exactly what you mean to answer the question above. What would EXACTLY would you do?

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