What is the future of education?

Education is a fascinating subject. We are at a point in history where nearly everyone has had some schooling.

We all share a similar past experience in the classroom; however, things are changing quickly. I doubt the education of the next generation will be anything like ours.

A couple of weeks ago I wrote about how technology is democratizing knowledge, and removing the barriers to an education. One of my favorite repositories of knowledge on the internet is TED. The original focus of the conference was to bring ideas from technology, entertainment and design together. Today they bring together brilliant people from all disciplines, and have made lectures available online.

Unfortunately, there are hundreds of videos to sort through, and finding the gems can be difficult. For that reason, I have decided to put together a list of my favorite TED Talks on the future of education.

A Short Introduction to the Studio School by Geoff Mulgan

A large number of teenagers learn best by doing things, learn best in teams, and learn best by doing things for real. All the opposite of what mainstream schooling actually does.

Geoff Mulgan set out to solve two major issues in U.K. education: Bored teenagers are dropping out of school with no job in sight, and employers view many recent graduates as unemployable.

His answer is the studio school. Studio schools focus on integrating work and learning. The majority of curriculum is based on practical projects, and students are given access to personal coaches as well as teachers.

Math Class Needs a Makeover by Dan Meyer

I teach high school math. I sell a product to a market that doesn’t want it, but is forced by law to buy it.

According to Dan Meyer the formulation of a problem is far more important than the ability to solve it. Todays textbooks give examples that can be solved just by knowing how to read a textbook.

Meyer is looking at a new way to teach mathematics. A way that uses videos to present applicable problems, and forces students to come up with the question and then search for a solution. Instead of flipping to the back of the textbook for the answer, they finish the movie. Another important lesson is that the theoretical math isn’t always correct.

Learning from a Barefoot Movement by Bunker Roy

I went to a very elitist, snobbish, expensive education in india, and that almost destroyed me.

Bunker Roy started schools in rural India that teach people, many who are illiterate, to become solar engineers and doctors. Many of them leave empowered to take their knowledge and improve their village.

Designed specifically for the poor, Roy says people come for the work and the challenge, not the money. People leave with knowledge of how to provide a service to their community.

How to Learn from Mistakes by Diana Laufenberg

We deal right now in the educational landscape with an infatuation with the culture of one right answer that can be properly bubbled on the average multiple choice test. I am here to share with you, it is not learning.

Diana Laufenbergs grandmother went to school, because that is where the information lived. It was in the books, the teacher, and she needed to go there to get the information. Todays landscape is different, although many schools think otherwise.

When children dont have to go to school to get information education should be based on experiential learning, letting students have a voice, and empowering failure.

The Child-Driven Education by Sugata Mitra

Education is a self-organizing system, where learning is an emergent phenomenon.

Sugata Mitra is known for his Hole in the Wall experiments, where he placed computers with an internet connection in New Delhi slums. He monitored the computers  with a hidden camera, and noticed that children would spend time playing with the computer. Eventually they would become knowledgeable enough to teach other children.

School Kills Creativity by Sir Ken Robinson

Our education system has mined our minds in the way we strip-mine the earth, for a particular commodity, and for the future it wont serve us. We have to rethink the fundamental principles on which we are educating our children.

Sir Ken Robinson argues that creativity is as important in education as literacy, and that schools our educating children out of their creative capacities. He points out in one of his other talks that as children begin as genius-level divergent thinkers, and lose that capacity as they get older .

Schools around the world have the same hierarchy  for education. Mathematics and language are at the top, followed by humanities. The arts are always at the bottom. Mathematics are always valued more than the arts, as a result many brilliant people dont think that they are brilliant.