Saturday 17 September 2011

The youth speak out at #TEDxLondon

Three teenage speakers would set the high standard for the Education Revolution. Following Sir Ken Robinson is never an easy task. But being a revolutionary thinker himself, 18-year old Adam Roberts was certainly up to the task. His talk was about asking questions and being critical. I've always been a fan of critical thinking so whilst I wasn't in need of converting, I was in need of someone to confirm what many of us believe in.

Students will frequently ask us "why do we need to know what we're learning about." And we better pre-empt these questions and have answers ready as students such as 14-year Old Georgia Allis Mills will certainly ask them. "Surely learning about things which we will never use in life is a waste of our time" she states. She goes on to say that "Schools will never catch up (because the world and technology is evolving so quickly), so why don't schools involve students in the development process?" Many good schools do, and they would be right to, as young people are at the forefront of education.

Sophie Bosworth, an 18 year old student working with the Ideas Foundation came on later and defined education as "The giving and receiving of systematic instruction". She would argue that this systematic instruction is what leads to systematic failure. It is the systematic nature of education that is the problem. When vocational education is seen as 2nd class to traditional subjects such as Maths, English and Science, we do not celebrate the equal talents of all students. Her work seeks to open up creative opportunities to people from poorer rural areas, many of whom would be forced through systematic instruction and many of whom would typically fail as a result.

Emily Cummins, an Inventor and another young speaker stated the blunt and obvious fact that the youth are the future, they teach their parents how to text, how to use e-mail, how to use a computer. They can teach schools and teachers a thing or two as well. Two things became increasingly obvious as the TEDxLondon conference went on. Firstly, young people (those we work with) know as much about Education Revolution as we do, what we need, who we need and how we can execute. Secondly, we need to involve the youth in our Education Revolution. We cannot go on our mission alone.

So yes, Adam we do need to change the way we assess children. Yes we do need to encourage them to ask more questions and be more critical in their thinking. Schools do need to stop saturating students with knowledge for university, which may ultimately fail them in life in the real world. And yes, Georgia, we do need to consider the global aspect of our education. We will come back to the prodigal inventor, Emily Cummins later. But for now, remember the purpose of education. Education needs to do justice to those being educated and the only way we can do that is by listening to them, listening to their questions and encouraging them to ask more questions. Maybe then, we will find the right answers.

"Creativity is a cycle, Pedal it"
Sophie Bosworth @TEDxLondon

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