Education 2.0

In what turned out to be the most popular TED talk of all time, Ken Robinson asked us to wake up and smell the coffee: our system of education is stuck in the Industrial Revolution where it was invented.  Moreover, it’s killing creativity, crushing spirits, and preparing students, not for success and wellbeing, but rather unemployment and dysfunction.  Waiting for Superman confirmed this this, adding that the public schools in the U.S. are bankrupt, both financially and morally.

Yet, all around the world, there are signs that the Berlin Wall of education reform is crumbling. Here are a few shining lights:


No single institution or movement has done more to spark educational change than  Hundreds of millions of people are watching their videos and learning from inspiring individuals sharing ideas and experiences that cannot be learned in a traditional school environment.  And there’s an acceleration effect because many of the talks are about education and the transformation that’s going on in …

The Most Important TV Show in America

Remember Jamie Oliver’s TED Prize Wish?  Well tonight is the prime time season premiere of his Food Revolution show on ABC.  The Huffington Post called Undercover Boss the most subversive show in America, and I can’t disagree.  But in terms of importance to the future of America (and by extension every country which imports American TV and culture), Food Revolution I can’t imagine a more important show.

It’s not just the lives of individuals who eat crap (which is most of the country, frankly, even though they have no idea how toxic what they are eating is).  It’s the happiness and achievement potential of today’s youth.  It’s the emperor with no clothes at the center of the healthcare debate.  And it’s a lynchpin for economic recovery and sustainability.

Watch the premiere, and spread the word……

The Innovation Summit

My new favorite worldchanger is the Spirit of Innovation Awards.  In short, high school students from around the country solve real-world problems and compete for awards and opportunities (like access to venture capital and mentorship).  Here’s an example:

I am working with founder Nancy Conrad on creating a self-sustaining, growing funding mechanism to expand the mission.  Might be an endowment, might be for-profit investment fund, might be an incubator, might be some combination.  We need to talk to people who are veterans of funding innovation (VC, hedge fund and angel investor types), who are as passionate about the mission as we are, to figure it all out.

What the mission doesn’t say, but what I believe, is that this will change the educational landscape permanently and profoundly.  There a a million “ideas” for how to fix the broken system.  The only way change actually will happen is through setting up subversive alternatives that the discontent (that’s you and me) can switch over to …

TED Prize Wish: Teach Every Child About Food

Decision Education: A Call to Arms

“Extensive research has shown that people tend to lead either from their head or their heart. Unless we make a conscious choice to achieve the appropriate balance, we tend to do what comes naturally and solve the problem from within our comfort zone” (from the Decision Education Foundation)

Those of us on the analytical side of the spectrum often completely discount feelings in making decisions. But it’s worth noting that the Decision Education Foundation (DEF) was founded by Stanford professors who pioneered the science of decision analysis and whose work spawned an entire consulting industry that helps companies make billion dollar decisions. DEF is adamant about the importance of using both head and heart:

Using your heart means taking into account what you really care about, which often includes the effect on other people and retaining their respect and trust. It means listening to your emotions and intuition. If you have taken your heart into account in the appropriate way, a decision feels right.

Whom Should I Interview?

I was just interviewed by International Mentoring Network and as a thank you for my time they asked if there was anyone I would like to interview.  Anyone in their network, I asked ?  No, anyone in the world.  Whoever it is, they will try to make it happen.  Now that’s an interesting question!

Okay, so who do you think I should interview?…

Complex Systems Symposium

Should be of interest to everyone who reads this blog.  Here’s the program, here’s the website, and here’s some more info that you can’t get from either yet:

Dear all:

Just wanted to share with you all a couple of updates for our Fall Symposium.  We’re very pleased to have two invited speakers so far: John Christiansen of Argonne National Laboratory (ANL) and Mitchell Waldrop of Nature magazine.

John is the director of the Advanced Simulation Technologies Center at ANL, and has over 30 years of modeling and simulation experience across many fields, including: meteorology, ecology, botany, anthropology, archeology, healthcare, and more.  He will present some of his work on a recent NSF Grand Challenge in Biocomplexity, which created an agent-based model to study the rise and fall of Ancient Mesopotamia.  He will also use this work to illustrate different hardware and software platforms, with a particular focus on the challenges on going from the desktop to HPC.

Mitch is currently the editorial

Health Care Parallels Education

I was listening today to a Fresh Air interview from a couple of weeks ago on the reasons for the high cost of health care:

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Highly informative and thought provoking. One thing that struck me was the discussion about how we don’t pay primary care physicians enough and that specialists make a majority of the dollars. This is not earth shattering news, but it I was reminded of a similar problem in higher education. Specialization is highly valued where as general studies and thinking/life skills are not, despite the fact that it’s these more general abilities and knowledge that determine how successful you are in your chosen trade (specialized or not). Same thing in medical care: it’s not the specialists who have the most impact on your health and mortality, it’s …

Reinventing Liberal Arts Education

This was one of the most important and encouraging talks of this year’s TED conference:…

Don't Eat That Marshmallow!

Short but brilliant TED talk by Joachim de Posada.  I love the economic point he makes at the end.

Decision Education Foundation

On Saturday I attended a fundraiser poker tournament for non-profit organization called DEF (Decision Education Foundation).  As it’s name implies, they are dedicated to helping individuals become better decision makers via the education system.  Their strategy is multifaceted, but their core goal at the moment is to introduce decision making explicitly into the curricula of primary and secondary schools around the country.  To do this, they first educate the educators on the components and process of making good decisions.…

How to Change the Climate in 3 Years

Oh, and re-grow the rainforrest, strengthen the social, political and economic climate, save endangered species and increase biodiversity and resilliance all at the same time without any budget.…

Teaching Metacognition to 7th Graders

Gary Marcus says he’d like for there to be a course on metacognition for kids:

Call it “The Human Mind: A User’s Guide,” aimed at, say, seventh-graders.  Instead of emphasizing facts, I’d expose students to the architecture of the mind, what it does well, and what it doesn’t.  And most important, how to cope with its limitations, to consider evidence in a more balanced way, to be sensitive to biases in our reasoning, to make choices in ways that better suit our long-term goals.

What a brilliant and practical idea.

Anyone want to take a stab at a syllabus?…

Dangerous Media, part 2

I have talked about some of the dangerous aspects of main stream media in the past.  Recently I was reading The Black Swan, in which the author argues that watching TV news, listening to news on the radio, and even reading newspapers actually makes you less informed (and dangerously so) than if you were to tune out completely.…

Notes from TED

Here are some notes that I took at TED 2008.  I have a bunch more on each of the speakers individually which I may post as time permits.  Let me know if you want me to expand any of the notes below into a full post.

TED Talks: Ken Robinson

Schools kill creativity