Archives For education

Brainstorming a learning platform

Jerry —  September 27, 2013 — 4 Comments

In August I spoke at Catalyst Week, a terrific brain- and heart-blending series of talks and events that are part of the Downtown Project in Las Vegas (more here). The topic for August’s Catalyst Week — they do these pretty much monthly — was education, so I decided to give a speech that would build on the TEDxCopenhagen talk I gave a year ago (here’s a full-text transcript).

Half my Vegas talk summarizes and crystallizes the talks that went before, in order to clear the decks enough to do some serious brainstorming. Of course, there was precious little time left for that brainstorming, so I’d love to continue it here.

On to the new talk:

Jerry Michalski visits Downtown Project Las Vegas from Downtown Project LV on Vimeo.

If you didn’t post a video to YouTube, you can’t alter it. The machine translation of the TEDx talk I gave last October about education is awful, so I listened to my talk and transcribed it. Aside from saying “so” and “let me” too many times, it ages well. Here’s the full text:

What If We Trusted You – transcript

Go back in your minds to fourth grade. Put yourselves in fourth grade and I am your teacher, if that doesn’t frighten you too much. You are in my writing class and I’ve given you a poetry assignment.

So, you’re actually writing. You’re in the flow, the words are pouring out of your fingertips, you’re really happy. You’re in that place where you’re making something beautiful…

And then all of a sudden, the bell goes off.

Like, what’s up with that? What do we all know is going to happen right now? What’s the next thing that’s going to happen? You’re going to put down your pens, and you’re going to go to math class, right?

Continue Reading…

Rebuild21, held recently in Copenhagen, had a pretty ambitious goal: reimagining multiple sectors of the economy, all in two days.

I was pleasantly surprised, first by the open, smart, skeptical and foresighted approach the first few speakers took in tackling the financial sector – Richard Kelly and Jem Bendell – and then by the equally smart, inquisitive, friendly folks attending the event.

Sofus Mitgard and his crew created a special environment (nice hosting, Lori!).

Sofus asked me to do a short keynote on rebuilding education, one of my favorite topics. Here’s that talk:

And a few more resources:

  • The panel that followed my talk
  • A brief interview that Lori did afterward
  • The Prezi I created for the talk
  • All of this, linked in my Brain

Thanks for a memorable and very useful conference.

John Holt‘s book Instead of Education is a 50:50 proposition. Half of it is hopelessly outdated. The Internet has made possible (and insanely cheap and easy) so many of the things that Holt describes as flimsy shoots of possibility in 1976. Educational materials are now abundant; getting together to do stuff, virtually or in person, just keeps getting easier. I wish Holt had lived to see what we have at hand now.

The other half of Holt’s book has great insights, starting with the difference between what he calls S-chools and s-chools, as well as T-eachers and t-eachers. The capitalized versions are compulsory. They are coercive. They tell, they require, they compel. And in doing so, they begin to stamp out the freedom and curiosity that are natural in kids.

The point I had missed that Holt makes elegantly is that small-S schools can be highly structured and demanding. You just have to opt into them of your own free will. Think of a martial-arts dojo. The work is likely to be grueling, but you’re there because you want mastery in that art. Lower-case schools and teachers are essential parts of the educational landscape.

It’s coercion that breaks the system’s natural beneficial powers.

Seeing Abundantly: Education

Jerry —  October 15, 2011 — 2 Comments

We tend to assume the school system as it is and proceed to try to fix it.

I went through it, half public, half private. I survived, and I’m pretty curious. Surely this is the only way to organize education.

But it isn’t. Once you start to look at the system we’ve built and the assumptions it contains, it’s a bit of a mind-blower how off it might be. The particular angle I take on it in this video is about scarcity and abundance.

I’m not surprised kids cause trouble in school and grades aren’t rising. The system is broken.

For a video from a teacher who is working wonders inside the system, watch this.

For some history on how we got this school system, I recommend John Taylor Gatto‘s The Underground History of American Education.

And for a lot more context and background, browse my Brain around this topic:

Continue Reading…