TED Conversations

Juliette LaMontagne

Founder & Managing Director, Breaker


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What are the advantages/disadvantages of learning models that exist outside of traditional educational institutions?

With the growing number of alternative learning pathways and opportunities to better serve the needs of individual students, what's working best? And what can we learn from the failures and tensions? Where and how have the models in the margins effectively disrupted the status quo?

I'll add to the conversation my current initiative, Breaker - driving alternative learning and social innovation by mobilizing interdisciplinary teams of young creative collaborators to design product solutions to global challenges.

This Live Conversation will start on Feb. 15, 2012, 1:00pm EST/ 10:00am PST


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  • Feb 15 2012: It seems to me that more learning can happen when a student has a burning interest and passion in a topic.

    A theoretical model would be:
    Students find topics on which they are passionate and /or wish to learn more.
    They research the topic on their own or guided by a teacher / mentor. (Researching the research that is available, making critical thinking judgements, summarizing condensing.etc)

    Then the students could share their research / findings and teach each other what they had learned.

    If there were a way to measure / grade this, I would think it would be based around acheivments. i.e. a student has done 40 hours worth of research, written a term paper... etc. Sort of like badges.

    That way a student could pick the subject (unlike in a traditional curriculum), but still gain the skills they are there to learn. And they could rack up hours of science, math, english, literature... content when subjects strike them as being relevant to them. That seems to be when really good efficient learning can happen, when a student is self motivated.
    • Feb 15 2012: I agree that self-motivation is a great way to learn, and that research is a great way to do it... that's how I've learned most of my life. But I would caution about the hours/term papers/etc. I had to count hours for a while when I was high-school aged, and it didn't feel like a reward. It felt like button counting. I'm sure that depends on the student, and how they are personally motivated, though. If this is within the usual school setting, though, and this is letting them break the mold a bit - buttons or no, go for it!

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