Some points he makes ring true:
- Collaboration inside and outside schools are key to success.
- Schools run on a production line approach, that was appropriate for the industrial age and doesn’t work in the information age.
- We need to change the education system so it focuses on the natural creative abilities of children.
- How can education enhance the aesthetic experience of the learner?
- Why do we still categorize students based on their age and not their abilities?
In India, we’d do very well to evaluate our education system and fix the glaring gaps. If our demographic dividend is to pay off, we really need to get down and do this soon.
I spoke at TED in 2006, the year they started to put the talks online. I’m told that since then, the talk has been downloaded more than 3.5 million times in more than 200 countries. The number of people who’ve seen it may be 20 times that or more.
I have a stream of e-mails, tweets and blog posts round the world from young people, parents, students, teachers, cultural activists and business leaders of all sorts. They tell me how deeply they relate to the talk and often that they’ve seen or shown it many times at meetings, conferences, workshops and retreats.
Parents tell me they’ve shown it to their children; young people tell me they’ve shown it to their parents. They say they’ve laughed and sometimes cried together and had a different sort of conversation as a result. Changing the conversation is one of the primary purposes of TED.
Why has this talk had such an impact? I think there are several reasons.
To begin with, the talk is short. The 18-minute talk is part of the genius of TED. In a world of instant messaging, rampant data and overspecialization, brevity is a virtue. (Even so, I’ve seen blogs that strongly recommend the talk but warn that it’s almost 20 minutes long.)
A second factor is that, based on the audience’s reaction, the talk is entertaining and funny at times, which always helps. And I’d just had my hair cut. We may never know how much that simple act contributed to the global appeal of the talk. But the real reason for its impact is that what I’m saying clearly resonates deeply with people of all ages and across many different cultures. I believe that the argument is becoming more urgent by the day.
What is the argument? In a nutshell, it’s that we’re all born with immense natural talents but our institutions, especially education, tend to stifle many of them and as a result we are fomenting a human and an economic disaster.
In education, this vast waste of talent involves a combination of factors. They include a narrow emphasis on certain sorts of academic work; the exile of arts, humanities and physical education programs from schools; arid approaches to teaching math and sciences; an obsessive culture of standardized testing and tight financial pressures to teach to the tests.