TED and school

Last Friday, Simon and I were debriefing his talk at TEDx Philly. These types of events are becoming increasingly common. The basic idea is to get a bunch of smart, dynamic, creative people in one place at the same time, have them share their work, and see what happens. The format varies a bit (TED is more presentation based, whereas events like the Aspen Ideas Festival offer more unstructured time for discussion), but what they have in common is the belief that this kind of cross-pollination of people and ideas is generative.

We need to find ways to bring this dynamic into schools. To the extent that we expect students to present their work, educators typically confine it to one form or another of assessment. This is valuable in its own right, but it sells the work short. We should have days where the point is just to share ideas and work, ask questions, and think out loud about what might happen next. Invite some outside folks and mix in with student presentations. Throw out some general framing questions, and see what happens. We would not be asking students to demonstrate their knowledge so much as help us as a community figure out what questions are interesting or important.

We could find our future curriculum inside those conversations.