Four “Must See” Presentations for Educators

I am not going to do more in this post than hopefully connect you with powerful thinking that I feel is essential for framing the conversation about rethinking school and discovering what its purpose is – why do we bother perpetuating school – which I fear has evaporated over time. I will cite what I think are key ideas – but you watch them and see what you can discover and then share your reactions/responses.

Larry Lessig

Key Idea: “We can’t stop our kids from using it [technology]; we can only drive it underground. We can’t make our kids passive again; we can only make them, quote, “pirates.” And is that good? We live in this weird time, it’s kind of age of prohibitions, where in many areas of our life,we live life constantly against the law. Ordinary people live life against the law, and that’s what I — we — are doing to our kids. They live life knowing they live it against the law. That realization is extraordinarily corrosive, extraordinarily corrupting. And in a democracy we ought to be able to do better. Do better, at least for them, if not for opening for business.”

Tim Brown

Key Idea 1: “OK, so if you try the same exercise with kids, they have no embarrassment at all. They just quite happily show their masterpiece to whoever wants to look at it. But as they learn to become adults, they become much more sensitive to the opinions of others, and they lose that freedom and they do start to become embarrassed. And in studies of kids playing, it’s been shown time after time, that kids who feel secure, who are in a kind of trusted environment, they’re the ones that feel most free to play.”

Key Idea 2: “Kids are more engaged with open possibilities. Now, they’ll certainly — when they come across something new, they’ll certainly ask, what is it? Of course they will. But they’ll also ask, what can I do with it? And you know, the more creative of them might get to a really, kind of, interesting example. And this openness is the beginning of exploratory play. Any parents of young kids in the audience? There must be some. Yeah, thought so. So we’ve all seen it, haven’t we?

We’ve all told stories about how on Christmas morning, you know, our kids end up playing with the boxes far more than they play with the toys that are inside them. And you know, from an exploration perspective, this behavior makes complete sense. Because you can do a lot more with boxes than you can do with a toy. Even one like, say, Tickle Me Elmo, which, despite its ingenuity, really only does one thing, whereas boxes offer an infinite number of choices. So again, this is another one of those playful activities, that as we get older, we tend to forget and we have to relearn.”

Tim Brown

Key Idea 1: “Instead of starting with technology, the team started with people and culture. So if human need is the place to start, then design thinking rapidly moves on to learning by making. Instead of thinking about what to build, building in order to think. Now prototypes speed up the process of innovation. Because it is only when we put our ideas out into the world that we really start to understand their strengths and weaknesses. And the faster we do that, the faster our ideas evolve.”

Key Idea 2: “So why design thinking? Because it gives us a new way of tackling problems. Instead of defaulting to our normal convergent approach where we make the best choice out of available alternatives, it encourages us to take a divergent approach, to explore new alternatives, new solutions, new ideas that have not existed before. But before we go through that process of divergence, there is actually quite an important first step. And that is, what is the question that we’re trying to answer? What’s the design brief? Now Brunel may have asked a question like this, “How do I take a train from London to New York?” But what are the kinds of questions that we might ask today?”

Tom Peters

Key Idea 1: “We live in a world that begs for creativity and what do we do? When the nine year old boy gets out of his seat inappropriately in the fourth grade we send him to the school nurse and say, ‘Dose the lad with Ritalin from now until death.”

Key Idea 2: “We are rapidly moving into the age of creation intensification.”

Key Idea 3: “We nail facts into students heads and there is nothing wrong with it if the goal is to employ somebody for forty years in a Ford  Motor Company Model A factory, right? Because the deal is, ‘Park your brains at the door, dude.'”

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