Discovery + Mentoring = Education

Today we're discussing how we ourselves learn, and some ideas about how to do school. There are two TED lectures for this discussion, "A short intro to the Studio School" and "Gever Tulley teaches life lessons through tinkering". The link at the top of each quote will take you to the lecture it comes from.

Multiple intelligences is a theory that there is more than one kind of intelligence in human beings. There's a lot of disagreement as to how to categorize the different intelligences, but the diagram above shows a lot of the options that have been put forward. Looking at the diagram, which kinds of intelligence do you have?

How teenagers (people!) learn
Teenagers who are really bored by schooling. It doesn't animate them. They're not like all of you who can sit in rows and hear things said to you for hour after hour. They want to do things, they want to get their hands dirty, they want education to be for real.
Teenagers learn best in teams.
Teenagers learn best by doing things for real.
You work by learning, and you learn by working.

Is this true or partially true for you? Is this true for anyone you know?
How do you personally learn best?



"Over the weekend, I was talking on Facebook about an incident where a friend offered me food. I said no, and she immediately responded with, “Oh, why not? Come on, just take one.” -Jim C. Hines
Do you have a story about some time when you said no and someone didn't take it seriously, and kept bugging you about it?
How did you feel at the time?
How did you start feeling about that person? About yourself?

Do we teach people that they have the right to take care of themselves?
Do we teach that it’s okay to set boundaries?
Do we teach people to respect them?

Our culture says saying 'no' is rude/selfish/bad.
We grow up learning that “No” is rude. It’s more important to avoid hurting other people’s feelings. It’s important to be polite and accommodating. Setting boundaries and prioritizing our own comfort and safety is selfish. We push these lessons even harder on women, expecting them to be caretakers, putting everyone else’s needs above their own.
Screw that.

Our culture treats someone saying 'no' as a challenge to overcome
You have the right to set your own boundaries, to say no and to have that be respected.
It’s something my culture is really bad at. We treat “No” as a challenge, a hurdle to be overcome through pressure, alcohol, emotional manipulation, even physical force.

How to learn? From mistakes.

Here are some quotes illustrating the main points of Diana Laufenberg's TED talk, entitled,"How to learn? From mistakes."

School as access to information
In 1931, my grandmother graduated from the eighth grade. She went to school to get the information because that's where the information lived. It was in the books; it was inside the teacher's head; and she needed to go there to get the information, because that's how you learned.

Fast-forward a generation: this is the one-room schoolhouse, Oak Grove, where my father went to a one-room schoolhouse. And he again had to travel to the school to get the information from the teacher, stored it in the only portable memory he has, which is inside his own head, and take it with him, because that is how information was being transported from teacher to student and then used in the world.

When I was a kid, we had a set of encyclopedias at my house. It was purchased the year I was born, and it was extraordinary, because I did not have to wait to go to the library to get to the information. The information was inside my house and it was awesome. This was different than either generation had experienced before, and it changed the way I interacted with information even at just a small level. But the information was closer to me. I could get access to it.

討論逐字稿 Bring on the Education Revolution

We talked about Sir Ken Robinson's TED talk, Bring on the Revolution

Okay, who wants to retell the story of Gillian Lynne?
Okay, she is a creator to create a dance or play. When she was at school, she was so fidgity that her schoolteacher treated her as a problem at the school, and when her mother took her took her to a doctor, that doctor was able to find out the special ability Gillian Lynne possessed. So he suggested to her mother to take her to the dance class. That's how the legend started. And then later on she became a famous dancer and had her own company. She ended up becoming a billionaire. Maybe you can say she lived out her dream.
She lived out her dream and got rich, that's not bad. But she wouldn't have had any of that if someone had medicated her with Ritalin and put her back in school
I think that happens to a lot of people.

討論逐字稿 A Wonderful Country for Positive Thinkers

This is the transcript for the discussion "A Wonderful Country for Positive Thinkers", a talk from the Sudan Youth TEDx conference. Wafa Elamin talks about how the people in Sudan have to work on and invest in their own country, and not leave and wait for someone else to fix it.

Neuro = brain
Plastic = easily stretchable or transformable (so the material plastic was named after its property)

Okay, so let's do her questionnaire. [this is for the group of 7]
Easy 3
Difficult 0
Opportunity 6
Unpromising 1
Excitement 0
Stress 6
Hope 3
Tiresome 2

Positive 12
Negative 9

So, we're more postiive than negative, that's not what I was expecting.
So, what's you're reaction to this?
Uh, why is Taiwan easy?
Why is it hard?
I mean, what do you mean when you say it's easy?
You need to go to college, it's easy, easy to eat, easy to go anywhere.
Easy to live, actually.
Based on my experience, it's easier than the US, it's even easier than NYC.
You mean convenient.
Part of it, yeah, but people are softer here, more human here.

Child-Driven Education

In his work, Sugatra Mitra shows that children are self-organizing learners. Now that he has demonstrated this, how do we take advantage of this across the world, and also in Taiwan?

Children will learn to do what they want to do
I started in 1999 to try and address this problem with an experiment, which was a very simple experiment in New Delhi. I basically embedded a computer into a wall of a slum in New Delhi. The children barely went to school, they didn't know any English -- they'd never seen a computer before, and they didn't know what the internet was. I connected high speed internet to it -- it's about three feet off the ground -- turned it on and left it there. After this, we noticed a couple of interesting things, which you'll see. But I repeated this all over India and then through a large part of the world and noticed that children will learn to do what they want to learn to do.
This is the first experiment that we did -- eight year-old boy on your right teaching his student, a six year-old girl, and he was teaching her how to browse. This boy here in the middle of central India -- this is in a Rajasthan village, where the children recorded their own music and then played it back to each other and in the process, they've enjoyed themselves thoroughly. They did all of this in four hours after seeing the computer for the first time. In another South Indian village, these boys here had assembled a video camera and were trying to take the photograph of a bumble bee. They downloaded it from, or one of these websites, 14 days after putting the computer in their village. So at the end of it, we concluded that groups of children can learn to use computers and the internet on their own, irrespective of who or where they were.
At that point, I became a little more ambitious and decided to see what else could children do with a computer. We started off with an experiment in Hyderabad, India, where I gave a group of children -- they spoke English with a very strong Telugu accent. I gave them a computer with a speech-to-text interface, which you now get free with Windows, and asked them to speak into it. So when they spoke into it, the computer typed out gibberish, so they said, "Well, it doesn't understand anything of what we are saying." So I said, "Yeah, I'll leave it here for two months. Make yourself understood to the computer." So the children said, "How do we do that." And I said, "I don't know, actually." (Laughter) And I left. (Laughter) Two months later --

Bring on the Education Revoluition


Today I'm showing quotes from two different TED talks by Sir Ken Robinson. They center around the same ideas. If you just watch one, watch Bring on the Revolution, where he summarizes his ideas more. Schools Kill Creativity is an older talk, where he lays things out step by step a little more. The title of each quote holds the link to the talk it came from.

Gillian Lynne's story
Gillian Lynne -- have you heard of her? Some have. She's a choreographer and everybody knows her work. She did "Cats" and "Phantom of the Opera." She's wonderful. I used to be on the board of the Royal Ballet in England, as you can see. Anyway, Gillian and I had lunch one day and I said, "Gillian, how'd you get to be a dancer?" And she said it was interesting; when she was at school, she was really hopeless. And the school, in the '30s, wrote to her parents and said, "We think Gillian has a learning disorder." She couldn't concentrate; she was fidgeting. I think now they'd say she had ADHD. Wouldn't you? But this was the 1930s, and ADHD hadn't been invented at this point. It wasn't an available condition. (Laughter) People weren't aware they could have that.
Anyway, she went to see this specialist. So, this oak-paneled room, and she was there with her mother, and she was led and sat on this chair at the end, and she sat on her hands for 20 minutes while this man talked to her mother about all the problems Gillian was having at school. And at the end of it -- because she was disturbing people; her homework was always late; and so on, little kid of eight -- in the end, the doctor went and sat next to Gillian and said, "Gillian, I've listened to all these things that your mother's told me, and I need to speak to her privately." He said, "Wait here. We'll be back; we won't be very long," and they went and left her. But as they went out the room, he turned on the radio that was sitting on his desk. And when they got out the room, he said to her mother, "Just stand and watch her." And the minute they left the room, she said, she was on her feet, moving to the music. And they watched for a few minutes and he turned to her mother and said, "Mrs. Lynne, Gillian isn't sick; she's a dancer. Take her to a dance school."
I said, "What happened?" She said, "She did. I can't tell you how wonderful it was. We walked in this room and it was full of people like me. People who couldn't sit still. People who had to move to think." Who had to move to think. They did ballet; they did tap; they did jazz; they did modern; they did contemporary. She was eventually auditioned for the Royal Ballet School; she became a soloist; she had a wonderful career at the Royal Ballet. She eventually graduated from the Royal Ballet School and founded her own company -- the Gillian Lynne Dance Company -- met Andrew Lloyd Weber. She's been responsible for some of the most successful musical theater productions in history; she's given pleasure to millions; and she's a multi-millionaire. Somebody else might have put her on medication and told her to calm down.

Totnes Transition Town

In looking into the New Economy, how to exchange value with each other in a way that benefits everyone as well as the planet, the idea of cooperatives comes up a lot. Then there's the idea of a Transition Town, which seems to be a kind of cooperative on steroids, in a very interesting way. Here's a TEDx talk that begins to explain a little.

Start watching "My Town in Transition" at 2:29 to skip the introduction.

Below is a short summary of the video.

The people in Totnes realized that the town had lost all its major economic drivers, and was going to die a long slow economic death. They also realized that no one was going to ride up and save them, that they had to save themselves. And the only way to do it was 'if we harness the collective genius of the people around us'.

They started by holding a party called 'The Unleashing' to kick off a number of projects:
Nut tree planting project = urban food forest
A new local currency, the Totnes pound = reinvestment in local business
Local food directory = where can you buy local easily
Cohousing group = looking to build or renew local housing for people to live together who don't have traditional families.
Open eco-homes, open edible gardens = awareness raising so people can see how it's done
garden-share scheme = you have land but don't have time/energy to work it, matched with people who want to grow food.

討論逐字稿 New Economic Visions: Currency

This is the transcript of our discussion of New Economic Visions: Currency.

At the most basic level, currency functions as a means of exchange (I give you a dollar and you give me an ice cream cone), a unit of value (a dollar, pound, etc.) and a store of value (you can hold onto a dollar as it maintains its worth). It’s also a source of information about relative value, and about what is needed to keep trade flowing, for instance, by adjusting the supply of money or the exchange rate so that those in other markets can afford your goods.

Does this make sense as a definition to you?
Actually at the beginning, when currency wasn't created yet, people used their own things to barter, for instance I exchanged my cup with jennifer for some bread. But because it's hard to value these things, it's hard to measure the value of those things, and in order to have a fair value on this exchanging step, the currency was created.
But it's not really fair, there's a lot of problems.
Can you iterate?
I think compared to when people are exchanging things [bartering], [using currency] takes away from the relationship of those two people.
How so?
Like if i exchange something with you, then we would chat, we would bond, but if its just money then, it's just like business.
Some of the human interaction is lost.
Yes, and it's easier to exploit people because of it.
Actually, one of the people brought that up in an article, so now it's the second time i'm hearing it. Because, we've been talking about trust a lot lately, right?
And so when they started talking about trust in these articles it made me prick up my ears.
In some parts of the world, this kind of trading still exists.
Like markets in Africa, and people just gather around in villages, and if I just decided I can trade my things with your things, and both sides are happy with what they get, becase the agree to exchange that and they got what they wanted.
Business activity has to be based on trust, so its no matter what the intermediate stuff is that you utilize, first of all, if you have to carry your commodity for a long distance, it won't be convenient for you to exchange your stuff directly without currency.
That's why we've moved away from direct bartering.
Also the article you posted has demonstrated a way to preserve the benefit of currency. And in the meantime, without spoiling the trust between people. On the contrary it increases the interaction and trust between people.
How so?
They created another kind of currency, people in that community, becase they trust each other.
Yes, they all accept this currency.
So the problem is we are using currency we didn't decide to use.
Someone else decided.
I read some article, that said to decentralize the control of currency, the idea is similar to what oliver said, it means, currency can be created by a certain group of people, and these people, they trust each other. Is it the same idea?