Sir Ken, for those who are not familiar, is the most watched TED speaker of all time with over 20 million views on TED.com and YouTube. That’s not only because he’s a pretty charming man (I should just go ahead and admit it) and wickedly funny, but mostly because he talks about a common, global problem, which is the world education crisis.
The discussion started establishing a notion of the core aspect of education, which isn’t about the actual school, textbooks or the classroom itself. The main principle of education lies in the relationship between teachers and students. That relationship is rapidly deteriorating in schools all over the world: from the private school classroom in southern Brazil where my mother teaches Portuguese literature to the streets of Acapulco, where teachers are rallying for better security in the classroom.
An example of that deterioration grabbed headlines in the Brazilian media last week, when a teacher in São Paulo failed to convince a student to turn off his mobile phone and said that the disobedience would be reported to the school board and the student’s parents would be informed. The student then got up from his chair and kicked his teacher on the back, knocking her down to the floor.
Technology, in this case, seems to have (literally) harmed the teacher-student relationship instead of helping it flourish, as most of the subsequent TEDx speakers of the day would seem to believe. If the teachers’ approach to technology today consists in banning tech in the classroom because it distracts their students, it indicates that there’s something fundamentally wrong with that relationship and that the problem lies on the very purpose of the encounter between these two actors.
Ewan Macintosh‘s plea for a pedagogic approach that turns students into problem finders as opposed to just problem solvers was one notable exception during the course of the day. For several decades, we have educated children to solve problems that may or may not appear before them in life. Entrepreneurship and innovation, however, are based on finding problems that need resolutions first and then working around how to solve them.
If the São Paulo teacher was empowered with an educational method that stimulates critical thinking instead of being forced to ask her student to turn off his phone…if teachers worldwide helped students on finding problems that relate to them and encouraged these kids to use technology to research and find solutions to these issues…not only that relationship would be saved, but many of the world’s talent problems would be solved as a consequence.
Image by michale licensed under Creative Commons