TED Conversations

High School Student, Commemorative Air Force

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Fix the education system by changing the learning model to make students more creative, motivated, productive, and personal.

How can "Those if-then rewards often destroy creativity... The secret to high performance isn't rewards and punishments, but that unseen intrinsic drive -- the drive to do things for their own sake. The drive to do things cause they matter." from Dan Pink, be used in the education system to not kill creativity, from Ken Robinson? I think this if-then reward system is extremely exaggerated in schools, and a better education system could result from a change to more Results Only Work Environment, the ROWE, where there are not schedules, classes, or meetings. The student then defines their own school: when to come to school and what to learn based on curiosities and interests. This can drive up most students’ motivation for school, their creativity in school, and their overall productiveness.

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  • Jan 6 2012: I believe so. The current system is designed to produce factory workers and lower management. Follow instructions, time management and produce average satisfactory work. Not much room for the gifted or those with "learning differences".

    This models time has passed. What I see evolving is the web based school model (WS) which teaches the core subjects interwoven with focused electives. My children struggled in the public system which is designed to address the needs of the bell curve. It believes that all kids learn in the same way at the same speed with little room for variance. They can offer the same classes taught by different teachers in different ways. WS's incorporate a multimodal teaching system where children learn in a way best suited for them wether kinesthetic, oral, visual, etc. The support offered from the WS has been spontaneous and individualized. A student may learn at his/her own pace and not feel bored by being too far ahead or confused and left behind. My kids are enjoying the learning process again, learning at a far greater pace and retaining more information. It is more effective and takes less time. They are done with the core in 2-3 hours.

    We have coupled the web school with classes featuring a more creative/hands on experience. Science, engineering, sports and the arts. They are more focused and having more fun.
  • Jan 9 2012: I do believe this is an idealist version. having taught for several years from k-Phd across countries, I find that most students do NOT have an intrinsic desire to learn. Motivating them is the hardest part and in my classes when they do get motivated and learn on their own, the next teacher comes along and they loose it. Of course it was a temporary motivational desire.
    One should read the article "the anxirty of learning" In HBR . It is very insightful about this topic and its effectiveness
    • Jan 19 2012: Young people learn outside of school, without a need for it. How to sing, how to dance, how to ride a bike, how to do whatever they are interested in doing and teaching themselfs with research from the internet. As Ken Robinson said, "Its about Passion... education doesn't feed their passion". Doesn't that mean they must have the desire to learn, when passionate about something, in the first place?
  • Jan 24 2012: Abandon the idea of universal academic education. In many cases, a trade school would be more appropriate and nurturing. Those who do not want to be in a classroom should be encouraged to go elsewhere. We are burdened by a lowest common denominator educational system which is continually being dumbed down to accommodate those who might be better served elsewhere. We might also ask teacher unions to stop protecting their incompetent, destructive members. Having accomplished those two things, we are left with a group of motivated students led by competent teachers. Any attempt to standardize beyond that limits the creativity of both the students and the teachers. The particulars of any given system are irrelevant if they are imposed by the incompetent upon the disinterested.
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      Jan 25 2012: Interesting simplified concept of what to do with the hundreds of thousands of adolescents who aren't yet working to potential, David. They're still growing up...too early to categorize the academically weak, as academically weak.

      Donald, I continue to search for ways to tap into intrinsic motivators in high school kids. The bottom line is, most (not all) adolescents operate differently than adults when it comes to motivation. Dan Pink's wisdom doesn't quite apply, depending on the maturity or self-awareness level of the kid. They care about stuff they shouldn't, and don't care about stuff they probably should.
      • Jan 25 2012: I accept that interest is not a measure of potential. I'm not convinced that's even true at the age of 18 when compulsory education is dropped. There seems to be an intellectual elitism at work which insists that academics have more value than craftsmanship. What I'm rather poorly trying to say is that we should engage the passions of the individual and let them go where they go rather than trying to force everyone into a single cookie cutter vision of what type of education has value. Personally, I don't think I began to realize my potential or even clearly define my passion until well past 40. Ideally, we're all still growing up.
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          Jan 25 2012: Hi David,

          Okay I understand. Sorry if I sounded smug. We really do try to 'engage the passions'. Most students are simply not passionate about much while they are adolescents - at least until they get some exposure to options. Exposing them to options is cumbersome, awkward, inefficient, slow, and involves a great deal of guesswork as we prod and nudge and encourage and guide. They're kids. They need the time to think, and to grow into themselves a little. That's education.

          In the system I belong to, HS students take 18 mandatory courses, and 12 elective courses, with tons of co-op opportunities attached. We absolutely offer them as many options as the market will bear (because offering options adds complexity, time, and resource strains to the system) and we encourage co-op opportunities to whoever will listen.

          Students have to have time to rattle around in a safe place with peers, and try stuff. It's because education is not 'cookie cutter' that it is so untidy, and therefore, often easy to criticize.
  • Jan 19 2012: I thought the educational system used in the Cook Islands pre-colonial times was great. This was a non-institutionalised system, where if the child showed interest in a certain area such as weaving for example that child would have a go at doing his own weaving, by watching, copying and attempting. Throughout the process the person weaving would only help when the child needed some guidance, thus the child would learn from the act of doing within an area it is interested or showed promise in. The interesting part also is that age didn't matter you could be 10 or 20 to start it didn't matter as long as you showed interest and promise.

    A lot of successful people today are people who don't have degrees but were self taught, or aren't so successful in school but upon university flourish.so this idea that everything can be taught in a classroom with a book along with a list of general subjects to complete is a redundant one.

    Could it be that rather than forcing a child to learn a lot of different subjects, that you reduce the number but increase the standard at which they must pass, therefore allowing them more time to focus on subjects that they are passionate about. The idea being quality of quantity, this coupled with interactive hands on experience. Also who needs classrooms when you have the whole world to explore.