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TED Teams Up With PBS On Ideas For Education

samzenpus posted about a year and a half ago | from the welcome-to-the-ted-show dept.

Education 78

First time accepted submitter edwardins writes "TED has teamed up with the Corporation for Public Broadcasting and the New York public broadcaster WNET to create an hour long special called, 'TED Talks Education.' From the article: 'The Corporation for Public Broadcasting paid for the show's $1 million costs under the auspices of an initiative that addresses the high school drop-out problem in the United States. "It was the perfect marriage of ideas that matter and our core value of education," said Patricia Harrison, the corporation's chief executive.'"

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High school drop-out problem (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43642111)

Doesn't matter, there's no jobs anyway. It's all gone to China, India and Mexico.

I blame Canada for all that.

Re:High school drop-out problem (1)

Errol backfiring (1280012) | about a year and a half ago | (#43642137)

Please enlighten me, what do the Canadians have to do with it?

Re:High school drop-out problem (5, Funny)

ArcadeMan (2766669) | about a year and a half ago | (#43642173)

No idea, but we're sorry and apologize anyway!

Re:High school drop-out problem (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43642471)

We apologize for the apology in the comment above. Those responsible have been sacked.

Re:High school drop-out problem (1)

ArcadeMan (2766669) | about a year and a half ago | (#43642485)

Mind you, moose apologies can be pretty nasty...

Re:High school drop-out problem (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43642633)

We apologize again for the apologies in the comments above. Those responsible for sacking the people who have just been sacked have been sacked.

Re:High school drop-out problem (1)

davester666 (731373) | about a year and a half ago | (#43644087)

Don't drag the British into this. We're not a colony anymore!

Re:High school drop-out problem (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43643421)

Oh and we're still not giving the Stanley Cup back!

Re:High school drop-out problem (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43642239)

Well, to start with they exist. *Woosh*

Re:High school drop-out problem (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43642455)

Everything.

Our kids are getting worse. They won't obey their parents. They just want to fart and curse.

You'd probably blame the government or society or images on TV.

But the original AC had it right. Blame Canada.

Re:High school drop-out problem (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43642963)

Just a note, here in Ontario (Canada), we have solved the high school dropout problem. You cannot get a full drivers license unless you finish high school, all of the sudden, everyone is motivated to finish high school.

Re:High school drop-out problem (1)

ArcadeMan (2766669) | about a year and a half ago | (#43643013)

What a simple and yet powerful idea. Let's hope all provinces do the same.

An unsatisfied hunger (5, Interesting)

EmperorOfCanada (1332175) | about a year and a half ago | (#43642165)

The popularity of TED shows that there is an unsatisfied hunger for genuinely stimulating intellectual stuff out there. PBS can be good but I am talking about people out there with a huge hunger to hear about cutting edge discoveries in various fields. This will always be a somewhat niche market but it seems that money and stupid always drown out intellect. Case in point: The Discovery Channel.

It seems the moment the MBA types start noodling with their spreadsheets they will say oh look a TED talk will pull in an audience of 2.3 million but a re-run of friends will pull in 2.31 million; my work is done here.

So we end up with a generation of kids who want to co-habit in a loft and drink coffee instead of a generation inspired to be the next Richard Feynman.

I am not saying their should be no Friends re-runs nor that all kids can become Richard Feynman; just that the ratio of Friends to TED type programming is in need of a little tweaking.

Re:An unsatisfied hunger (3, Insightful)

doconnor (134648) | about a year and a half ago | (#43642379)

Maybe stimulating intellectual stuff can attract a fair number of viewers, but not the kind of people desired by advertisers.

Re:An unsatisfied hunger (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43642547)

In that case, find different advertisers.

Imagine if you watched TED talk about investing in an electric car alongside an advertisement for a GM Volt about its fuel efficiency, that would be smart advertising.

Stupid advertising would be airing a GM Volt commercial about passenger safety after watching a re-run of Friends where the show doesn't even spend time in a car at all.

Not all advertisement needs to focus on the ages 18~25 demographic.

Re:An unsatisfied hunger (2)

TapeCutter (624760) | about a year and a half ago | (#43642587)

The Discovery Channel? - With a veritable smorgasbord of mind-numbing drivel to choose from you picked the Discovery Channel?

Re:An unsatisfied hunger (2)

TheSkepticalOptimist (898384) | about a year and a half ago | (#43642725)

You mean like The Learning Channel? I'd like to start a petition to have this channel renamed because they haven't shown anything worth learning in over a decade.

Of course when PBS's top show is "The Antique Roadshow", PBS may not be the best place for reforming education either.

Re:An unsatisfied hunger (2)

nucrash (549705) | about a year and a half ago | (#43642877)

Discovery Channel is an easy target considering the fact that at one time it was a channel that was actually informative and provided some intellectual value. But as time progressed, the intellectual value was supplanted with entertainment value which was funded by advertisement value. Basically we live in a world driven by consumers. Unfortunately the stupidest people consume the most. Another easy target would be TLC. This channel was once called, "The Learning Channel." I don't honestly think I could refer to that channel as such without vomiting in my mouth a little bit. The learning was completely removed in the full title of the show, "Here Comes Honey Boo Boo. there goes the learning portion of this channel" Another frustrating loss is the History Channel. While I grew tired of the WWII/Nazi Channel, there was a great bit more for that channel to explore. Instead, they decided to go with the "Aliens/Conspiracy/NASCAR" route. Perhaps this is the normal evolution of entertainment. Perhaps this is why Seth MacFarlene is so excited to do Cosmos with Neil DeGrasse Tyson instead of another Family Guy spinoff or Ted type of movie. I so want to hear about Cosmos and I hope that Fox doesn't kill that series like they do so much else. I feel there is a demographic of people out there just hungry to learn, but they are flooded with so much crap that they don't .

Re:An unsatisfied hunger (2)

i kan reed (749298) | about a year and a half ago | (#43644767)

See, you blame the networks, but I have an alternate hypothesis:

People interested in intellectually deep material fled to the internet, and stopped being an available pool for the networks to target. The people who still watch TV are the people who, in the early 2000s, were still willing to suffer advertisements, forced time slots, and reruns in their entertainment. The rest of started reading websites and watching online videos. The edutainment networks ran to the audience they still had, people who watched documentary videos for the spectacle.

Re:An unsatisfied hunger (1)

Hognoxious (631665) | about a year and a half ago | (#43674765)

Discovery Channel is an easy target considering the fact that at one time it was a channel that was actually informative and provided some intellectual value.

I wondered if it was nostalgia making me think that. What did I see recently - something like "Was Hitler a transvestite?"

Re:An unsatisfied hunger (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43642837)

Yes, a hunger, a hunger for videos on how to tie your shoes or how you've been using paper towels wrong all these years.

TED works because it's viral, the good talks get passed around, the bad talks sort of languish in obscurity.

Honestly I'd rather see PBS do something better than the TED talks.

Re:An unsatisfied hunger (5, Insightful)

poity (465672) | about a year and a half ago | (#43643651)

I think this is very true for all pop science (and TED is pretty much Popular Science in video form) -- just by looking at the Youtube comments, you can see a lot of TED's popularity lies in technophilia ("cool idea, NEXT!") and the stroking of pseudo-intellectual egos ("more aware than thou"). However, that's really a personal problem of individual viewers which no one but viewers themselves have the ability to fix. Maybe someone can create a TED Talk video about complacency in the intellectually curious and the enabling role that viral pop science videos can play (the Onion vid I posted above is the closest we have thus far). It'll be self-referencing so the viral meme folks will appreciate it too hehe.

Re:An unsatisfied hunger (1)

Ginger Unicorn (952287) | about a year and a half ago | (#43651217)

If you base your assessment of what TED's appeal is on youtube comments then you're going to get a skewed impression of how people respond to the videos. Being anonymous unsolicited pronouncements, youtube comments are all about ego. You aren't getting any information about the people that don't leave a comment.

Re:An unsatisfied hunger (2)

TubeSteak (669689) | about a year and a half ago | (#43643505)

PBS can be good [...]. Case in point: The Discovery Channel.

I don't know why you're comparing these two channels.
PBS exists to provide educational programming.
It's subsidized by a government chartered corporation in order to provide educational programming.
The last thing you have to worry about is PBS playing reruns of Friends.

The Discovery Channel's problem is that reality tv is cheaper and more ratings friendly than information heavy programming.
So we get information-lite content wrapped in a package of survival shows, fishing boats, and elimination style competitions.

Re:An unsatisfied hunger (1)

Xoltri (1052470) | about a year and a half ago | (#43648069)

A great science show I found recently is Bang goes the theory on BBC. I think it's on it's 7th season now, I watched all of the episodes and they are great.

MBA Types (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43644641)

I just want to object to your "MBA types" jab there.

There are two types of people who get MBAs: Those who got their degrees to be better managers, and those who are awful managers looking for more legitimacy. As someone in the former camp who abhors the latter, I really wish people wouldn't make this generalization so much. There's also a lot of variation in the quality of MBA programs; generally speaking the ones in smaller schools are rooted in how to run a business properly, while larger ones often focus on the executive bullshit that so many of us have come to hate.

Re:An unsatisfied hunger (1)

Joe Tie. (567096) | about a year and a half ago | (#43645787)

It's a hunger for feel good infotainment in quick easy to digest sizes. There's a world of difference between actual education and hearing an educated person tell stories about their life and discoveries. I've known tons of people who like TED talks, or watching pop-science documentaries. Not once, not even a single time, have I see anyone of them actually take that interest to the next level and start to gain a real education or understanding of the subject.

Re:An unsatisfied hunger (1)

EmperorOfCanada (1332175) | about a year and a half ago | (#43648517)

My theory is that it will be that one person in 100 or less who sees scientists at work and it rings them like a bell. Full resonance. But for the other 99 getting them hopped up on pop-sci then gets them to support funding this stuff. Those penguins won't film themselves.

Re:An unsatisfied hunger (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43646351)

The MBAs would take TED and package it in a situation comedy format and wonder why no one weants to watch it at all.

Re:An unsatisfied hunger (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43649015)

Feynman was, by all accounts, something of a bohemian himself.

Which, in today's terms, would mean he shares a loft and hangs out at cafes. Which, I feel must be mentioned, have a long history as the traditional locations of the avant guard.

costs? (1)

schlachter (862210) | about a year and a half ago | (#43642247)

Can't help but think that if TED had done this on its own it would have cost a fraction of the $1M that PBS is spending. But maybe I'm naive about the costs involved.

Re:costs? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43642329)

I think on Ted talks people do a lot of work for free that you would be expected to be paid for on a TV show. How many hours must speakers spend creating their presentations?

Re:costs? (2)

ArcadeMan (2766669) | about a year and a half ago | (#43642377)

How many hours must speakers spend creating their presentations?

I'm pretty sure I saw a TED talk about that.

Re:costs? (2)

ArcadeMan (2766669) | about a year and a half ago | (#43642429)

And here it is [ted.com] .

TED was a great movie. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43642277)

But I'm really not sure if it's appropriate to have a foul mouthed, womanizing, dope smoking teddy bear giving us ideas to keep people in school. Although, if Mila Kunis can be involved somehow, I'm totally on board.

CAPTHA: bailiffs

They should build a huge bulldozer (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43642451)

And run it over the teachers union building.

Re:They should build a huge bulldozer (1)

fredrated (639554) | about a year and a half ago | (#43643025)

Promise you will be inside?

Some thoughts on Education (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43642591)

The most glaring issue with education is the lack of respect that it receives by politicians and the "leaders" of this country. Education and intellectual pursuits are branded as "elitist" by office holders.

It's also true that not everyone is cut from the same cloth, so why do we have such standardization of our education. To be competitive in a global marketplace where ideas are instantly spread across the globe, we need to have the most Frankensteins - not Igors. Find those that are brilliant in their pursuits and allow the to focus. Don't make them plod through 12 years of a broad education just to reach their specialization.

Re:Some thoughts on Education (2)

Darkness404 (1287218) | about a year and a half ago | (#43642965)

We need to have "tiers" of education, how they are implemented would depend on the size of the school (in larger school districts they could be broken up between buildings, in smaller ones by classes) where you'd have 3 different "tiers"

High - Students who are gifted at academics/art these are the people that are reading novels when their peers are reading picture books, students who can understand division when their peers are struggling with subtraction, etc.

Medium - Average, run of the mill students.

Low - Students who have difficulty with basic concepts and who struggle with academics.

By dividing classes up like this, you reduce bullying, encourage group/team work, you let all 3 groups achieve maximum potential by tailoring the classes towards their academic ability and letting those who struggle with academics have a chance to "catch up" and to learn useful skills without feeling pressured into a situation where they will most likely fail (college, advanced courses, etc.) but instead be able to gear them towards things in their strengths (we need both astrophysicists and plumbers). For those who are gifted with academic ability, you can let them truly thrive and be able to explore academic areas that they would otherwise have to wait years to experience.

Re:Some thoughts on Education (1)

femtobyte (710429) | about a year and a half ago | (#43643721)

The problem with a simple "tiered" model is that it assumes all kids are either uniformly brilliant, average, or dumb. While there are a few who simply fall into such categories, many more will be great at some things and poor at others. Should the kid who's a math whiz, but reads below grade level (or vice versa), be shuffled into the dumb kids school, or the medium (and in either case, suffer incredibly boring work in their area of skill)? I agree on separating subject-matter specific classes by ability level, but when you track whole humans into dumb/normal/smart (with corresponding buildings for each), you're going to badly screw the majority of people over (who might turn out to be brilliant at some class of endeavors, if they weren't locked in a soul-crushing prison to be taught that they are a dumb kid, whose only career prospects are janitorial work or fry chef).

I enjoyed the benefits of going to a public magnet school segregated for the smart kids --- but I very nearly ended up in the regular zoned school (because there weren't nearly enough magnet school spots, handed out by lottery, for all the qualified students). The short time I spent at the regular zoned school (geared towards "normal" students; even the "honors track" classes were dull) was mostly miserable --- and I wouldn't wish that experience on anyone who either "lost the lottery" for magnet-school placement, or wasn't up-to-snuff in one particular subject area. Ideally, you need a system where you can offer a variety of paces in different subject areas in one place, rather than lump everyone into "overall smartness" categories.

Re:Some thoughts on Education (1)

Darkness404 (1287218) | about a year and a half ago | (#43647239)

Well I think it should be based and focused around what the student is good at, for example the math wiz would be placed in the top school and would take mostly math classes and very few English/reading classes if he so chose. Similarly, a kid who was really good at English and reading would take mostly English/reading classes and fewer math classes if he so chose.

Today, we've got a mixture of too many academic ability levels mixed into classrooms making it impossible for those who are better at certain subjects to continue improving and impossible for those who aren't as good in those subjects to succeed in what they are good at. You've got an English class with a kid who loves reading Elizabethan literature sitting next to a kid who doesn't understand what's going on at all in the story, because of this the class is likely to be miserable for both of them, one because he doesn't understand or enjoy it, the other because the pace of the class is likely to be far too slow.

As for the non-academic kids, they're already locked into a soul-crushing prison when they're stuck in classes they don't understand and don't enjoy. There are people who simply do not have the intellectual capacity to perform and enjoy certain classes. Why stick someone who struggles with reading in a class that's reading Shakespeare, something that he has no interest or any real ability to do. Doing so is setting him up for failure. Instead, focus on his strengths. If he's good at working with his hands why not train him to be a carpenter? If he's good at working with electricity why not give him instruction on how to be an electrician? Instead, we stick these people in classes that they have no ability and no desire for and act surprised and shocked when they fail.

Not everyone should go to college. Not everyone has the capacity to understand Shakespeare. Not everyone has the ability to do calculus. Instead of pressuring these students to go to college, to read Shakespeare and to take calculus we should be guiding them to do something that they love and something that they're good at. We need janitors. There are people who are good at being janitors and love being a janitor. We also need astrophysicists, there are people who are good at being astrophysicists and love being an astrophysicist. I know you and I probably think that manual labor is perhaps the most soul-crushing of jobs and we wouldn't wish it on anyone, but there are people who no doubt think that having to work with computers all day is soul-crushing or work with numbers all day. The education system needs to find out what students are good at doing and what they like to do and put them in classes that help them reach that goal, whether that goal is to be an astrophysicist or janitor and failure is not that everyone isn't an astrophysicist but failure is that the person with a mind to be an astrophysicist and the desire becomes a janitor and the person who wants to be a janitor gets forced into thinking that he must be an astrophysicist to be successful and ends up failing at reaching that goal.

Re:Some thoughts on Education (1)

gizmo2199 (458329) | about a year and a half ago | (#43643973)

Silly, we already have that system of education.

Elite private schools tend to use more progressive methods of eduction where children are allowed to "explore" their world through a boutique education suited to their individualized learning style, and students tend to excel academically even though some receive intensive individual hands-on tutoring

Middle-class students are herded into mediocre schools where moderately qualified teachers try to do the best they can and difficult students receive some special attention.

While lower-class or working class students are left to fend for themselves and indeed have difficulty with basic concepts and struggle with academics, while teachers try to keep kids from killing each other while punching the clock.

But from your post you assume that these qualities are innate and that a student's socio-economic background doesn't matter in how well students do academically. In other words, if kids truly had the support they needed to fully realize their abilities from an early age (read: $$$$) you wouldn't need to carve out some kind of "gifted" education for a select group of people.

Re:Some thoughts on Education (2)

i kan reed (749298) | about a year and a half ago | (#43644829)

Yes, but when you do divide them, all the following also happen:

#1 You enrage parents: "How dare you classify my child as 'average'? You're monsters!"
#2 You enrage teachers: "You mean we have pay based on student performance and you assigned me a 'below average' group. You're monsters!"
#3 You enrage people interested in social justice "Oh, so it just so happens that all the [poor/minority/female] students get classified into a 'seperate but equal' below average class. You're monsters!"
#4 You really do dictate a child's future based on their present.

I know where you're coming from, but you hurt so many groups with this kind of change that it's politically and maybe ethically untenable.

There is no "problem" (4, Informative)

Darkness404 (1287218) | about a year and a half ago | (#43642673)

There is no real "problem" with people dropping out of high school, nor is there a problem with people not going to college, nor is there a problem that some people don't get their masters, nor is there a problem that some people don't get their PhD. Instead, if we look at this as a "problem" we try to get people at all costs to graduate high school, mostly by dumbing down the coursework. When this happens (which it already has) a high school diploma means nothing, it has stopped being a qualification, more and more people need to go to college to get a degree as a qualification, when more and more people go to college, colleges are naturally forced to raise prices (and due to government subsidies such as Pell Grants and student loans actually have an incentive to raise prices since the price of college stops being a major barrier) due to having a finite amount of resources, and naturally college courses become dumbed down and so people need to get a post-grad degree and so on...

What needs to happen is that school councilors and teachers need to help the kids who aren't academically minded and help them find good careers doing something that they -want- to do and are good at, rather than trying to shoehorn them into a career path that they aren't good at and they don't like. Yes, education is a good thing but not everyone has the intellectual capacity to do well in high school and college, rather than looking at these people as failures, the system needs to help them not by mindlessly telling them to 'stay in school' and 'go to college'.

Re:There is no "problem" (1)

swb (14022) | about a year and a half ago | (#43644061)

One of the primary problems with education in the U.S. is that the consumers of education have, principally, a vocational expectation from education. They believe that whatever education they get should enable them to get a job. The people providing this education, however, are not providing a vocational education; they are more interested in providing a âoegeneralâ education which includes a lot of things which are not of any specific vocational benefit.

Employers, however, want something else â" âoework readyâ employees who do not need additional training. They are not interested in the âoesuperfluousâ aspects of education.

So you have a student who wants a job getting education in something his employer doesnâ(TM)t really want.

None of this is an argument for or against either side â" Iâ(TM)m not saying a âoeliberal artsâ education has no value and everyone belongs in trade school.

I do think that the University/College system isnâ(TM)t the right configuration for the majority of students it services, most of whom are looking for vocationally oriented education. Weâ(TM)ve loaded up colleges with thousands of people who are just looking for the credentials and are for the most part not participating or really âoelearningâ the liberal arts aspects of their education, which is bad news for both people who WANT to liberal arts education and for people who spend literally tens of thousands of dollars on classes they skip.

Re:There is no "problem" (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43647443)

Yes, education is a good thing but not everyone has the intellectual capacity to do well in high school and college, rather than looking at these people as failures, the system needs to help them not by mindlessly telling them to 'stay in school' and 'go to college'.

I agree that college is not for everyone, and should not be a requirement for assuming a productive and self-sustaining role in society.

At the same time, I don't think graduating high school requires "intellectual capacity" beyond that of the average person, including the average HS dropout.

There is a problem, but it is not within our education system. It stens from a broader society that is too focused on its own selfish, short-term material ambitions to properly plan for and care for its children.

Oligarchs on education! (2, Insightful)

femtobyte (710429) | about a year and a half ago | (#43642715)

I bet the people who buy $6,000 tickets to see TED talks in person won't be sending their kids to the new model of schools they're proposing. The rich will still go to fancy prep schools, with small class sizes, highly qualified teachers, individual tutoring, beautiful facilities, broad-ranging curricula --- and where even the dumbest kids will be groomed to be multimillionaire managers (no one there being prepared for the "janitor" career track). Meanwhile, they want to tell the rest of us to stick our kids on the "obedient peon" track, herded and managed to be profitable slaves for the kids of the super-wealthy (and make them a nice return on investment from new for-profit schools).

Re:Oligarchs on education! (3, Informative)

gizmo2199 (458329) | about a year and a half ago | (#43644081)

I bet the people who buy $6,000 tickets to see TED talks in person won't be sending their kids to the new model of schools they're proposing. The rich will still go to fancy prep schools, with small class sizes, highly qualified teachers, individual tutoring, beautiful facilities, broad-ranging curricula --- and where even the dumbest kids will be groomed to be multimillionaire managers (no one there being prepared for the "janitor" career track). Meanwhile, they want to tell the rest of us to stick our kids on the "obedient peon" track, herded and managed to be profitable slaves for the kids of the super-wealthy (and make them a nice return on investment from new for-profit schools).

Exactly! It still amazes me how the solution to our eduction "problem" seems to be to deprive the public of qualified teachers, by for instance, cutting their salaries, and "optimizing" class sizes. And who are the number one proponents of these solutions: people for whom their own children must have the best of the best, and can easily afford to pay for it. Isn't it amazing how the kids of rich people never seem to work in blue-collar professions, even if they're idiots. They still manage to make it into Ivy League schools.

except that ted (5, Interesting)

nimbius (983462) | about a year and a half ago | (#43642973)

is more of a cult than an education vanguard these days. sheldrakes 'morphic resonance' bullshit for example. Taleb's account that TED has devolved into a three-ring circus in which educated scientists perform parlour trickery for the lay-person seems accurate. It should also be taken seriously that Nick Hanauer was shown the door after his talk pointed the audience to reconsider income inequality and taxation of the wealthiest; his talk was never published. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/TED_(conference)#Controversies_and_criticism [wikipedia.org]

MOD PARENT UP (1)

mha (1305) | about a year and a half ago | (#43643359)

I watched all TED talk when they first became available on their website, years ago. Back then 40-60% of the talks where really, really good. Fast forward to today: some 90% of the talks are garbage, banal, mundane, trite, boring, trivial... of course, it is an American operation, and like all ideas which are great in moderation, American business acumen milks everything until it's dry. Who cares about the ideas if you can build a boring but MUCH larger franchise system? Make it more "professional" = it was time to bring in the marketing people.

TED today is mostly worthless. Something similar happened with fora.tv. At first ~10-20% of the videos were really great, today maybe 1% - at most. Lots of repetition (by other speakers at new conferences, which have nothing new or exciting to say).

Mod parent down. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43650083)

90% of everything is crud...

Re:except that ted (2)

fermion (181285) | about a year and a half ago | (#43643467)

TED, like many similar lectures, are valuable because the people who are talking have succeeded at something and it is interesting to see how they succeeding, or what they think, because it is might be useful in out lives. The problem, as stated, is that it has become a cult where these people are assumed to have the answer. The reality is that answers can come from many places, and no one should be considered a oracle. For instance, it might be nice to hear from the mother who raised 3 kids and put them through college on minimum wage. That would be educational and inspirational. No one is going to pay several grand to hear it though.

What I have seen with TED and education is simple solution for complex problems, which is what people want. It is not our fault it is the kids, the greedy union, the lazy teachers. Really it is and it isn't. Each new group of kids a new problem to solve that involves not a completely new toolset, but innovative uses of what we know. It seems that TED would be an ideal place to promote this, but it does not seem to be.

In my experience, education is just getting better. It is providing opportunity to more kids, opening up doors to more fields. I mean who has actually educated in the 50's and 60's. Not really many at all. Even those that went though school could barely operate in a low level manufacturing facility. Now we have kids that run and troubleshoot CIM. It is an achievement that many fail to recognize, and of those that do, too many fear.

How to solve the education issue in the US (1)

IWantMoreSpamPlease (571972) | about a year and a half ago | (#43642981)

(1) Make schooling, from grades 10-12, voluntary. This is a two-fold solution:
(a) It gets rid of those that are disruptive and don't want to be there anyway, leaving:
(b) more time for those that are there to learn, and more resources from the teachers can be devoted to smaller classes.

(2) Those that drop out, are placed in a trade school, or join the military, their choice.

(3) Stop teaching to the test. I understand (at least where I live anyway) that school budgets are tied to SOL test scores, but it screws things up, and makes it worse, not better.

(4) Dump the teacher's union. Give teachers the authority to make the changes needed in education.

(5) Don't be afraid to fail students and/or hold them back if they need it, but that need will be reduced with the implementation of (1)

(6) Separation of school and private sector. By this I mean stop mucking about with textbooks (religious nuts and anti-science folks, I'm looking at you)
Publish fact, wingnut theories are left to churches and out of school time (or college, take your pick)

(7) There is no step (7)

Re:How to solve the education issue in the US (3, Insightful)

femtobyte (710429) | about a year and a half ago | (#43643437)

(3) Stop teaching to the test. I understand (at least where I live anyway) that school budgets are tied to SOL test scores, but it screws things up, and makes it worse, not better.
(4) Dump the teacher's union. Give teachers the authority to make the changes needed in education.

How is "dump the teacher's union" supposed to fit in with the rest of this? Despite failings, the teachers' unions are the *only* thing giving teachers any sway over the educational system. Without that, it'd be entirely up to management types --- who've been trained from birth to absolutely love making everything into shallow numerical metrics (teach to the test!) to prove how important management is. Yes, I had to suffer through some bad teachers kept around by the unions --- but all the *very best* teachers I had would have been first to go if management had their way, because sticking up for smart students puts you on the wrong side of management priorities.

Re:How to solve the education issue in the US (1)

IWantMoreSpamPlease (571972) | about a year and a half ago | (#43647699)

Thanks for the education on this. The worst teachers I've ever had, were all unionized, hence my dislike of them.

Re:How to solve the education issue in the US (2)

femtobyte (710429) | about a year and a half ago | (#43647997)

Unfortunately, when you take away the unions, the lazy, self-serving, money-grubbing, too-useless-for-a-real-job, petty authoritarian teachers are probably the ones who will *stay* (and suck up to whatever teach-to-the-test nonsense that management makes pay raises ride on, or just outright cheat like the "incentivized" teachers in Michelle Rhee's DC schools). The great teachers, who have plenty of skills to get a much higher paying job elsewhere, but teach because they live for making a positive impact on their students' lives, will burn out and leave when management succeeds in sabotaging their ability to teach (I've seen this happen to a few of my best teachers).

Re:How to solve the education issue in the US (1)

Hognoxious (631665) | about a year and a half ago | (#43679149)

The worst teachers I've ever had, were all unionized, hence my dislike of them.

I, presume that, includes the one who, taught you how, to, use commas.

Re:How to solve the education issue in the US (1)

moeinvt (851793) | about a year and a half ago | (#43644001)

"(6) Separation of school and private sector."

How about separation of school and government instead?

Only when government gets involved in something can we observe steadily increasing costs for stagnant or declining quality of product/service. In every other market things get better and/or cheaper, or at the very worst, keep a constant value.

Make the schools private, make the teachers compete for those jobs and make the schools compete to attract students. Bring in the education entrepreneurs.

Re:How to solve the education issue in the US (2)

femtobyte (710429) | about a year and a half ago | (#43644249)

In every other market things get better and/or cheaper, or at the very worst, keep a constant value.

Actually, in just about every other market in this country, things get increasingly unequal (larger divide between the "haves" and "have nots,") with the vast majority being subjected to a race-to-the-bottom for crappy quality at low prices. As McDonalds is to quality nutritious food and Wal*Mart is to high-quality, durable goods, so too will privatized corporate education be for the masses. We'll get empty-calories education, all corn syrup and hydrogenated soybean oil, with the lasting durability of a made-in-China plastic widget --- and maybe somehow the quantity will make up for the quality? Well, at least it will make the owners very, very rich.

Re:How to solve the education issue in the US (1)

moeinvt (851793) | about a year and a half ago | (#43645871)

I'm talking about the value proposition to the consumer for a particular good or service. Price AND quality.

"... a race-to-the-bottom for crappy quality at low prices."

As opposed to our current public education system with crappy quality at high and steadily increasing prices? A system that leaves the majority of Americans with no choice but to do business with the local education cartel?

I have a hard time imagining a service like education being scalable and replicable to the degree of a McDs or Wal-Mart, but I guess it's possible. However, it certainly couldn't happen immediately. Remember that at one point, McDonalds actually sold real food and despite their ubiquitous presence, people still have plenty of options.

If government stayed out of it, I think we'd see a thriving marketplace with many small businesses offering a wide range of services. If someone was smart enough to build an education business to the size of a Wal Mart or McDs and got rich doing it, good for them.

Re:How to solve the education issue in the US (1)

femtobyte (710429) | about a year and a half ago | (#43646043)

I'm talking about the value proposition to the consumer for a particular good or service. Price AND quality.

Yeah, I know what you're talking about. Unfortunately, there's little evidence that "marketplace" approaches are actually good at doing this. Instead, they tend towards consolidation, monopolization, advertising/branding over actual quality. You do know that the Walton heirs are some of the biggest investors behind the push for privatizing education, along with the Gates? A megacorporate monopolized approach is exactly what they're going for, and exactly what markets tend towards.

Remember that at one point, McDonalds actually sold real food

yet now they're bigger and doing better than ever selling McDonald's "food" (as is Wal*Mart selling their crap) --- I don't want to live in, or have my children grow up in, a country where the majority of citizens get a McDonalds/Wal*Mart education, and unbreakable addiction to corporate propaganda, even if I could afford to send my own kids to a higher grade place.

As opposed to our current public education system with crappy quality at high and steadily increasing prices?

There's more than one solution to the problems with the current educational system (which are exacerbated by increasing poverty and wealth gaps, created by the Wal*Marts of the world, along with "run education like a business" management-heavy test-and-metrics models).

Re:How to solve the education issue in the US (1)

moeinvt (851793) | about a year and a half ago | (#43655893)

I'd say that the "evidence" is overwhelmingly favorable to free market solutions and generally unfavorable to big government and central planning. For-profit businesses provide millions of goods and services with high quality at affordable prices. Competition and innovation tend to drive improvements in quality and put downward pressure on prices.

What marketplace approaches have really been attempted in education? The education cartel fights against any sort of reform that would put market pressures on education. Even when the government isn't operating the schools directly they're distorting the market through loans, grants, subsidies and regulation. A genuine free market education system would never produce so many illiterate high school graduates, and so many college "graduates" with six figures worth of debt and no useful skills.

I know that Wal Mart sells a lot of junk, but when you need mouthwash, a rubber tote bin, a beach towel, clothes hangers, a can of spray paint or any of 10,000 other items, the Wal-Mart solution works just fine. Assuming they managed to get a huge piece of the education market, I think their "product" would be equally acceptable and much less expensive.

"unbreakable addiction to corporate propaganda,"

As opposed to an unbreakable addiction to big government propaganda?

All the "test and metrics" BS in education is just another government bureaucracy thing and you can't run education like a business when there is no penalty for failure.

P.S.
Government corruption is the biggest driver of poverty and wealth inequality in the USA. If government betrayed you so that Wal Mart could be more profitable, it's not Wal Mart's fault.

Re:How to solve the education issue in the US (1)

Hognoxious (631665) | about a year and a half ago | (#43679227)

Only when government gets involved in something can we observe steadily increasing costs for stagnant or declining quality of product/service.

So you're saying that the gubmint are running Microsoft?

Re:How to solve the education issue in the US (1)

twistedcubic (577194) | about a year and a half ago | (#43646199)


(4) Dump the teacher's union. Give teachers the authority to make the changes needed in education.

Credit Ronald Reagan with the popularity of such schizophrenic reasoning. This one suggests we dump the teachers union and give teachers the authority to make changes. I suppose the teachers will decertify the union and then get together and form an "organization"? Or maybe you're just naive in thinking individual teachers have the power to do anything at all outside of the union agreement. Public school administrators are typically adversarial towards teachers.

Bah humbug! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43643057)

TED is nothing but a bunch of smarmy, ego-centric ivy league kids who think they have the answer to the ultimate question of life, the universe, and everything.

Well let me tell you something sonny: Ya don't. Now get off my lawn with yer google-glasses and popped collar!

Fix career paths first, then worry about education (2)

ErichTheRed (39327) | about a year and a half ago | (#43643245)

Maybe I'm getting a little older, but I think a major problem that any education reform can't solve is the lack of a diverse group of jobs for people of varying abilities. Previously, high school dropouts had a hard life, but they weren't sentenced to a lifetime of poverty like they are now. The reason is that there were jobs for them, and some of these jobs actually had stability and wage progression. High school graduates could go and work in a factory, and in some cases, they would have stable income and the ability to live a middle class life. Smarter high school grads and the low-to-middle achieving college graduates had their pick of millions of corporate paper-pushing jobs. The good college grads and post-graduate degree holders had even more choices open to them.

The current situation isn't sustainable:
- High school dropouts have nothing to look forward to in life - they will always be either unemployed or making minimum wage in a string of temporary jobs. Low skilled jobs used to be protected by strong unions, but public opinion has soured on them.
- Factory work is much less plentiful than it used to be. In fact, there are articles citing the lack of skills for current manufacturing jobs (which I genuinely don't understand, but apparently the only people left in a factory are CNC programmers -- does anyone know the real source of this skill shortage? Is everything done by robots now?)
- There's less corporate paper to push and entry level positions are increasingly being outsourced or eliminated. This leaves tons of people with college degrees, high student debt and no way to pay it back. Example: I used to work in the IT department of a huge insurance company and my older colleagues told me about a time where they had many thousands of people just processing claims, keeping the books, etc. That's mostly gone now.
- There's even pressure on professions like law and medicine -- apparently outsourcing has killed the market for a lot of legal jobs.

The problem is, anyone who advocates having enough employment for everyone at every level is branded a socialist or Luddite. I can't see it getting better until there really is a "1%" of people who have a good life and we have a repeat of the French Revolution.

Sure, we should fix problems with education. But we should also realize that not everyone benefits from more education and can't handle anything beyond a basic job. A janitor shouldn't make the same as a doctor or engineer, but that janitor should at least have some stability in their life. I grew up in the Rust Belt, and it wasn't uncommon for people to graduate high school, and spend the next 40 years at a steel mill or car plant. Those people weren't rich, but the stability of the work meant they could have a few nice things and be solidly middle class even without an expensive education.

All I'm saying is that producing millions of college graduates for a class of work that doesn't fit them or doesn't exist isn't the fix. The conservative ideal of entrepreneurship for all is also silly -- millions of failed business ventures can't be supported by the economy any more than millions of unemployed employees. I say the Rust Belt model is a good one.

Love TED, but TED fans don't understand education (2)

eepok (545733) | about a year and a half ago | (#43643393)

So long as it's not Bill Gates backing high tech in the classroom, entrepreneurs peddling MOOCs, or for-profit schools trying to help defund public schools, I'll be interested in watching. But I have to assume that at least one of those concepts will be highlighted simply because the TED community loves them SO MUCH!

"Hey! Lectures in the CLOUD!" - "OMG! We found the solution!"
"Private schools for everyone!" - "OMG! We're 2 years from Star Trek now!"
"Every student gets a Microsoft Slate!" - "OMG! They'll never be tempted to goof off, I know it!"

I really hope the show goes something like this:
(1) We've continually tried to find an answer to make the education of our youth easier, cheaper, and standardized... and have failed every time.
(2) We need more teachers. We need them to feel safe enough to commit to a life of education. We need to treat them well.
(3) Home life matters. Where the home life is bad, we need more genuine counselors, mentors, and role models.
(4) We need to separate research universities, general ed. colleges, and trade schools while keeping them all at the same level of importance.

Re:Love TED, but TED fans don't understand educati (2)

PvtVoid (1252388) | about a year and a half ago | (#43643737)

Mod parent up.

The fundamental problem is that we don't value education enough to invest in it. We are especially falling short at the beginning and the end of a child's education, i.e. early childhood, and university. The U.S. needs a massive push for universal preschool, which is highly labor-intensive and expensive, but pays tremendous social dividends. We need a similarly massive push to rejuvenate state university systems, which are rapidly becoming a semi-private system. Not everybody should go to college, but those that will benefit from it should have a high-quality and totally free public education available to them.

Don't tell me we can't afford it. This sort of investment in our national human capital will reap enormous benefits for the society and the economy.

Re:Love TED, but TED fans don't understand educati (1)

acoustix (123925) | about a year and a half ago | (#43646577)

The U.S. needs a massive push for universal preschool, which is highly labor-intensive and expensive, but pays tremendous social dividends.

Don't tell me we can't afford it. This sort of investment in our national human capital will reap enormous benefits for the society and the economy.

Citation needed.

The state of Iowa has offered free preschool the last few years. The cost of running these preschools has more than doubled during these years. I just love that government efficiency!

Also, I live in a blue collar town of about 26,000 with about 35-40% of the town receiving government assistance. Previous to the new state policy we had 96% of 4 year old kids attending preschool. Now with the "free" preschool option we still have 96% attending preschool.

Mod parent up. (1)

bussdriver (620565) | about a year and a half ago | (#43645417)

Americans only value money; despite what they say. I know, I live here. Education = job = money. Most people don't care about education they care about the job it can get them. This corrupted modern value system is slowly corrupting the education system from the grassroots. Turning education into job training and where wrote learning is often good enough for most jobs... and heavy on testing / certifications which traditionally didn't mean that much but today it is thought of like some sort of quarterly business report.

You are not a dentist, making policy for the professional dentists because you'd had some fillings... But you all are education experts because you went to school? WTF?? Also, TED isn't as good as it was... off topic.

Idiotic plans like "no child left behind" where constant improvements were mandated regardless of the changing demographics. An influx of immigrants and a whole school's numbers could flat line and while they may have been #1 last year they are now put on probation and BS funding rules because they didn't return more "profit" than the previous year. I'm not kidding it happened here locally repeated times. Laying off teachers to higher part-timers months before the tests so they could teach to the standardized test-- just so they'd not lose more money the next year.

Education is NOT business even if you only think it's purpose is to program drones for business. Bill Gates is a business man 1st, far more ruthless businessman than computer nerd.

Some kids need to be left behind. sorry. some kids are fucked up-- especially in the USA where we have frequent shootings by kids. You can't FIX THE PARENTS - if we were serious, we'd look into getting child protection involved with a failing child. Not that moving kids around to foster homes is going to help their grades in the short term...

Interestingly, there was an old TED talk that fit this... where a brit talking about the tons of money the UK spent on the postal system because 1% of their mail wasn't delivered and they wanted 100%. Their costs and performance went DOWN trying to get perfection! They could have spent a fraction of that money advertizing how good the 99% was and people would have been better off.

Remember your history-- most people DID NOT NEED HIGHER EDUCATION, not even most of high school! A lot of those jobs still exist and modern forms exist. You don't need higher education for many jobs; in fact many certification level jobs don't need the certifications either. Some people just don't need to go to college; it is not a failure that they don't go, or even if they drop out of school. We see plenty of 4 year degree graduates working along side the drop outs... and plenty of drop outs are making a more stable living at possibly higher wages picking up your garbage. Small family businesses thrive without any college education (until one kid gets an MBA and takes over...)

Re:Mod parent up. (1)

bussdriver (620565) | about a year and a half ago | (#43645441)

Forgive my mistakes, I'm in a rush and didn't proof read my rant. can't type fast enough... I did go to graduate school and I'm an educator with some training in education and learning psychology.

Re:Mod parent up. (1)

Joe_Dragon (2206452) | about a year and a half ago | (#43646019)

we need to rethink the old college system and not stack more on to it with out changing some stuff at the

base level.

IT / TECH needs to have some kind of apprenticeship system and at least some kind of tech / trades school

/ badges system that is not a fixed 4+ years plan loaded without all the filler and fluff that comes

with the old college system.

also the curriculum and the teachers in college can be far from real work settings with lots of theory

that can be very top level or very low level (in places where for lot's of tech jobs is not as helpful as

learning more hands on skills)

Enough with the ideas (1)

strangeattraction (1058568) | about a year and a half ago | (#43644131)

The problem is there are too many ideas coupled with people who are incapable of implementing them. If teaching where a profitable and rewarding job there would be little problems. Class sizes need to be smaller - teachers need time to access and help kids with problems. Public schools have been saddled with the job of compensating for F'd up parents. A task which is not really education.

TED Talk (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43645251)

I wonder if TED will talk to BILL.

Evil, detailed (1)

Douglas Tooley (2916173) | about a year and a half ago | (#43645675)

Having Bill Gates talk about education is like having Ted Bundy talk about women's rights, the prognosticators only revealing the core of their evil. Education for Bill Gates is like his company, not meant to empower creative individuals but to build monoliths of bureaucratic automatons. Curiously, the evidence to both of these malicious individuals arises from the same educational institution, the University of Washington, most notably its School of Law - where the politico Bundy was given free reign and the local lobbyist/bond underwriter firm of Gates Sr made, tellingly, one of its first pre-Foundation forays into 'public relations'. That's a subject I've written on, a story also picked up by the more mainstream Rick Anderson, in the Seattle Weekly. http://www.motleytools.com/blog/1997/02/leveraging_the_law_through_the.html [motleytools.com] In general the Microsoft Corporation has engaged in employment practices that make second class citizens of many, many individuals - illegal corporate immigrants, if you will. This can be seen from the beginning in the 1990's class action 'perma-temp' lawsuits against both Microsoft and the local County Government. http://www.bs-s.com/cases/c-microsoft-vizcaino.html [bs-s.com] http://www.bs-s.com/cases/c-kingcounty-clark.html [bs-s.com] Most recently, Chief Counsel Brad Smith - emerging as the visible civic leader for the Corporation on a number of topics - has generated press in his support for the single employer H1-B visa program - while, curiously doing so very little to actually support the training of IT engineers at local educational institutions. The fact is the company was not built by smart people, it was build by Lawyers stealing smart people away from other companies - just like they now want to steal away America from its owners for the benefit of their Enterprise level corporate 'clients'. The details, and FAILINGS of this 'legal' management style can be seen in a number of ways - here's one I've written up based on the comments of one Jack Abramoff - himself known for a bit of untoward influence on higher education: http://www.motleytools.com/blog/2012/09/microsoft_and_the_law_firm_pre.html [motleytools.com]

Wakeup (W3C) - The HTML Scholarly Link is missing (1)

meta4ic1 (2884525) | about a year and a half ago | (#43645823)

Our collective Infrastructure blind spot and a collective blind spot of the W3C Is that the HTML Scholarly Link is missing. An obvious web/learning infrastructure item is missing. Simply: A link that shows the original quoted material highlighted IN CONTEXT. Why can we not create HTML QUOTES that point to original quoted material? Books have had footnotes forever. Why not the web. Why not , goto page then search and hilight? We do this all the time by hand. This footnoting mechanism is how knowledge was built in books for hundreds of years. Why is something this historical and powerful still missing from our web? Why is something this important and easy to implement still missing? Out of sight, out of mind. Wakeup W3C - The HTML Scholarly Link is missing and you can fix it! Now is your chance peoples, make the W3C make it happen. The Scholarly Link an idea whose time has finally come, again?
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