I have wanted to blog this for a few days now and finally think I know what I want to say. I have watched this video a number of times now and shared parts of it with 5 different classes. And although the message becomes a little diluted with comedic license, the major concept is well made. The author asserts:

  • we have little idea of how the world will look in just 5 years time, yet we are attempting to educate for it..[~minute 2:15] — do you agree?
  • children have an immense capacity for innovation and creativity [~2:45] — do you agree?
  • children are not naturally afraid of being wrong, educational systems teach them to afraid of being wrong. [~5:45]
  • [my favourite quote] if you are not prepared to be wrong you will not create anything original [~5:50] — do you agree?
  • we stigmatize mistakes and educate people out of their creative capacities.[~6:15] — do you agree?
  • the whole system of public education around the world is a protracted system of university entrance [~12:00]
  • The result of which a highly talented, brilliant, creative people think they are not. [~12:20]
  • we have mined our minds in the way we have strip mined the Earth for a particular commodity…we have to rethink the fundamental principles on which we are educating our children. [~18:20]

WOW.

The quotes strike at the heart of the matter of how I feel. Surely much of what we teach is useful for something, the question is it useful for any particular individual? Is it what they need to the extent to which we teach it. In many cases, yes. In many cases, no. Perhaps there are simply too many students to personally identify and create long term [multi-year] education plans? I know I have seen many students who don’t think they are good at science simply because they have not learned how to memorize effectively in the tradtional read/write system.

Can we continue to cram more and more material into twelve years and still have time for discovery and creativity? I cannot help but feel we could reduce the science curriculum **gasp** and replace with the discovery and creativity. Focus on the process. Focus on the students wondering and branching into the diverse knowledge and skill requirements based upon the need to explore the wondering? I wonder….how appropriate.

I don’t have any answers. It seems to dovetail to my previous post about Larry Lessig‘s talk at TED. Although in that post I failed to explain that I feel students are eliminated from the conversation. A discimination based upon age. It is they who use and will continue to develop the tech age. They should probably have a say in the regulation and development of the this time. If not, as Larry suggests, legislators and board members will criminalize activity, drive it underground and create a generation of criminals. Creativity strangled by the law in fact.

The students of this world have the knowledge or can find it near instantaneously. They lack the tools and wisdom to prevent serious harm. They need to be part of the conversation. I think Clay Burrell knows this.

So what do we do? I know I focus less on curriculum and more on offering opportunities for students to be creative. However even in grade nine they seem to find it difficult to be creative and present their knowledge differently. Some really respond well but there is a undercurrent of ‘just tell me what I need to know’. Yet, I’ll
persist.

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