Tag Archives: TED

Why Our Education System Is So Stuck

blogPic 236x300 Why Our Education System Is So Stuck

Thinking Skills: Sigmund Freud Meets Apple Pie

For years I have been ranting about the American education system, how murky and ill prepared it is to consider new ideas. I gave a TEDx talk about this in 2012: one of my slides was a cartoon I had made to describe how profoundly confused the situation is.

Don’t worry if you don’t get this cartoon… you’re not supposed to. The idea is that it’s an enigma… something so ingrained you’re not sure if you are allowed to think that you don’t understand it.

The biggest thing gnawing at me the past few years has been the “HOW” question… this is such an important topic, how could things have gotten to be this way?

And so I was very happy to find the answer lurking inside an article in last Sunday’s Washington Post, about Bill Gates and the new Common Core education standards.

Says Gates: “The funding, in general, of what works in education… is tiny. It’s the lowest in this field than any field of human endeavor. … As a result, there is a paucity of information about methods of instruction that work.”

So why is it that I’ve had these murky, queasy feelings about education? Because it turns out the American Education system has the lowest R&D funding of any field of human endeavor! This starts to make sense now.

OK then… with this post I’ve dug a little bit into what the problem is. Next look for some solution ideas.

And do read the Washington Post piece. It turns out that Gates is using his millions to rebuild the entire USA education system, makes for a fascinating and revealing read.

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TED Talk Friday: Kids detecting cancer and playing dangerously

This month’s installment in our TED Talk Friday series featured two fantastic talks focused on kids…

First up, 15-year-old Jack Andraka spoke about his innovative new approach to detecting pancreatic cancer in a cheaper, less invasive, and more effective way than previous technology ever imagined… incredible.

Next, we listened to Gever Tulley talk about 5 dangerous things parents should let their kids do. As the founder of the Tinkering School, Tulley speaks passionately about letting kids take risks and exposing them to new opportunities to push boundaries and explore.

A little danger may be good for kids… grown-ups too!

TED Talk Friday: A Virtual Choir

Here at ThinkFun we talk a lot about thinking skills… what they mean, what they do, and why they’re so darn important. While we often think about these in terms of major academic arenas (mental math, spelling skills, etc.), we recognize the multiple types of intelligences that resonate with and support a range of thinkers.

Musical intelligence is something I’ve had many conversations about lately, so I was thrilled to share this talk from 2011 by Eric Whitacre. Here’s Eric presenting A Virtual Choir 2,000 Voices Strong – You’ll have goosebumps, promise.

Doodle

TED Talk Friday: The Art of Asking… and Doodling

First up, Amanda Palmer’s 2013 talk The Art of Asking. This was one of my favorites at last year’s conference, and I was thrilled when a colleague suggested it for this week’s gathering. In her moving talk, Palmer explores the relationship between fans and performers, and shares her belief that artists should allow fans to pay for content rather than force them.

“I firmly believe in music being as free as possible. Unlocked. Shared and spread. In order for artists to survive and create, their audiences need to step up and directly support them.”

Palmer talks about passing the hat, couch surfing, and giving it all away, with themes of trust, honesty, and fear woven throughout.  Not sure I’ll ever look at a human statue the same way.

Next up: Doodling –  a  topic near and dear to my heart. Anyone who has ever sat next to me in a meeting can attest to the fact that my margins are rarely empty. Fish tend to swim between the lines, and dates often morph into galaxies. As a kindergartner, I took the non-nap option and doodled during rest time – and to this day there’s something calming and grounding about my pen moving that helps me listen more clearly and process information.

There’s a stigma of “spacing out” that doodlers like me know well, which is why Sunni Brown’s 2011 talk, Doodlers, Unite! was such a welcome perspective!  Fortunately, I work at a company that encourages my doodles – and I was thrilled to receive this book from our founder earlier this week!

Doodle 300x300 TED Talk Friday: The Art of Asking... and Doodling

“Our culture is so intensely focused on verbal communications, that we’re almost blinded to the value of doodling… Doodling has a profound impact on the way that we can process information and the way that we can solve problems.”

Any other doodlers out there?! I’d love to see your thinking and hear how you use it as a tool – tweet me your doodles (@charlottefixler) if you don’t mind sharing!

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TED Talk Friday: Gaming can make a better world

Hard to believe we’ve gone this long without watching this fantastic talk on gaming!

Echoing her book Reality is Broken, Jane McGonigal shares ways that powerful game mechanics can be used to harness – and solve – real world problems.  We talk often about the power of play to improve lives, sharpen thinking skills, and boost brain power – McGonigal’s work elevates this further to show how digital games can unify global problem solving around the most critical of issues facing our future.

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TED Talk Friday: Sleep and Stress

This month’s TED Talk Friday features fantastic talks on two topics that are always easy to relate to: sleep and stress!

First up, circadian neuroscientist Russell Foster’s 2013 talk “Why Do We Sleep?”  In his talk, Russell introduces theories about why we sleep – and busts up myths about how much sleep we actually need!

Next, we dug into the topic of stress with a fantastic TEDGlobal talk by Psychologist Kelly McGonigal, “How to Make Stress Your Friend.” While we typically think of stress as the enemy, something to be fought and tamed, this talk urges us instead to see stress as a positive. 

I’d love to hear your thoughts on this one, do you see ways you could benefit by embracing stress?

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TED Talk Friday: World Peace… and a catchy jingle!

This month’s TED Talk Friday featured Ariana Huffington’s 2011 TED Talk of the Year.

JohnHunter WorldPeaceGame 2 March 2011 TED Talk Friday: World Peace... and a catchy jingle!

John Hunter, whose work I shared in this post after the 2011 conference, defines inspirational mentorship in my mind. His approach to teaching children about complex world problems through active engagement, and ceding control, is just amazing to see unfold.

Here’s John Hunter’s talk “Teaching with the World Peace Game

This year’s highlight of the TED Ads Worth Spreading campaign had everyone at TEDActive bopping along… it’s incredibly catchy- in a hysterically morbid kind of way!

Enjoy Dumb Ways to Die!

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TED Talk Friday: The Puzzle of Motivation

August’s TED Talk featured one of my favorite authors – Daniel Pink – in his 2009 TEDGlobal talk The Power of Motivation.

In this powerful talk, Pink challenges traditional notions of what motivates people. Pink shares ways that typical go-to solutions like bonuses and contingent motivators often don’t work or – in some cases – do harm. 21st century tasks require managers to think and incent differently, and Pink’s talk provides a thoughtful springboard to these important shifts.

What motivates you in your work?

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TED Talk Friday: An imaginary artist and children’s champion

July’s TED Talk Friday featured two hugely inspirational speakers in two very different arenas.

First up: Shea Hembry’s 2011 TED Talk ““How I Became 100 Artists” – this incredibly creative artist shared his journey to create and stage an international art show with work from 100 different artists… the only catch? he invented all of the artists and artwork himself — from large-scale outdoor installations to tiny paintings drawn with a single-haired brush!

This amazing talk is quite funny at times and shows Hembry’s incredibly creative mind, artistic range – visual storytelling at its finest!

Next up, Rita Pierson’s inspiring 2013 talk, “Every Kid Needs a Champion.”

She talks about the importance of showing our students respect, to apologizing for mistakes, and to remembering, quite simply, that “Kids don’t learn from people they don’t like.”

I get goosebumps hearing Pierson speak from her heart, saying “Every child deserves a champion — an adult who will never give up on them, who understands the power of connection, and insists that they become the best that they can possibly be.”  Very sadly, Rita passed away last month – this talk is a beautiful reminder of the legacy she left behind – inspiring countless students and educators to become champions.

Who was your favorite teacher growing up?