This was part of my speech on August 7 at Portland, Oregon during the 8th Annual AERO Conference — Transforming Education & Our World and was originally posted at the TEDxKids@BC website. I hope you will enjoy the video I made for the occasion — bear in mind that this was my first attempt at video editing! 😉 I am looking forward to your feedback on my thoughts around bringing the kids into a partnership with us adults and making a social change and shaping the future together
Try to imagine a future without kids. It hurts to even think about this, right? It’s a nightmare we better never see! How about kids without a future? Unfortunately, the world in which many kids have no future already exists — we live in it every day.
I am not talking runaway climate change roasting the biosphere here — from poverty, to no access to clean drinking water, to diseases, to no basic human rights — examples of this kind abound. But the kids also face problems like outdated school systems, inefficient healthcare, disconnectedness from nature, society that values conformity over authenticity…
In our world, adults decide for the kids: From serving chocolate milk during school lunch to opting out from vaccines… From cutting school budgets and enforcing standardized testing to choosing energy sources and CO2 limits… From what to learn and whom to learn with to when and how to play! Read more…
It felt like a very long day today — a failure on one of the servers at work almost led to loosing all our customer data! The fact it happened on a Saturday made things worse. Luckily, it all ended up well, but the day almost wore out by then. Still I felt uneasy — it didn’t feel right to finish with the bitter taste that panic, worry and grave seriousness through the day left in my mouth.
A glance through the window let me see the sun still shining and the evening inviting for a play outside with my older daughter. We both jumped on our bikes and off we went to visit the many playgrounds in our neighbourhood. This is when I realized I’ve been reaching out to play as a way to deal with stress and make me feel better ever since I’ve got my first daughter.
I haven’t thought about it until tonight, but I can’t remember doing many “playful” things since almost I was a child my self. I always led a fairly serious life, with great responsibility for my actions and thought that hard-working discipline is the only requirement for success. Not that I haven’t done things for fun, on the contrary, but play to me is when you have fun by being immersed with all the senses into something you do out of joy and without worrying if you “behave” for your age.
Tonight, my (almost) 7 years old daughter asked me: Tato*, what makes you special?
… pause …
As you can assume, I didn’t know what to make of it! When I asked her what she means by that, she told me that she thinks she is good at drawing, so that makes her “special” in her mind and she wants to know what is it that I am good at?!
This made me think — I did wiggle out of a straight answer, btw! — Am I so good at something that I feel special about it? What does being special mean, after all?
I know I am a unique person with own behavior, dreams and wishes for the future. I know that if someone looks hard enough they’ll find few things that make me different from the other 7 billion people on this planet — but that makes me as special as a zebra is special because of its pattern being unique among all other zebras and that is not what my daughter really meant!
This post has been originally posted at the Cooperative Catalyst. I am reposting here — with minor edits — to broaden the audience and hopefully get additional feedback.
After reading Gatto, I make a distinction between education and schooling. Schooling is, at least in its current form, a way to govern education, but more often than not, education can happen without it — as millions of home-schoolers in US and many other countries and numerous important people through history that didn’t go to school can attest to!
What I came to realize lately is that despite the fact that we mostly think of education and learning to be similar, they’re different in two important aspects. Education and learning are usually described as the acts of acquiring knowledge, behaviors or skills — when defining education, Wikipedia refers to these as formative effects on the mind, character and physical abilities, but those are just different technical definitions of the same things.
Though learning and education sound like synonyms, learning goes beyond and includes the act of acquiring (or changing) values and preferences. On top of that, learning may involve synthesizing different types of information. I think these two aspects of learning are greatly important to anyone looking at reforming the current schooling system. Moreover, they should be considered by all parents and teachers when thinking about education choices and methods.
I’ll try to explain this with three stories, but before that, let me give you some thoughts to keep in mind when reading the stories.
Just over a year ago, on January 24, 2010, I posted the big news to my family and friends — I am starting a blog! Haven’t yet figured out what it was going to be exactly about, but I was convinced it would be another New Year’s resolution that will stay out of the drawer for few months only — before it would go back to the pile of other ideas that for some reason people usually deliberate around the turn of the new year and never truly take the effort to follow up on them. Still, I thought, it would be fun to try — little did I know how much so!
As most 10 years old boys, Brandon has a great love for animals, but not in the way you would expect. He is passionate about saving his favorites — our closest cousins among the Great Apes — from captivity!
Back in 2009, Brandon decided he wanted a chimp as a pet. Being curios if that is possible, he decided to research and learn more about these amazing animals, but what he found out caused a change of heart — instead of getting one as a pet, he decided he wanted to help save those held in captivity!
Since then, Brandon has been successfully raising awareness about the bad conditions in which chimps held in captivity for biomedical and other research live. He continually raises money to organize adoptions and transfer for such chimps to the Save the Chimps Sanctuary using his Make a Chimp Smile blog.
Brandon recently spoke at the TEDxYouth@TampaBay conference organized on Universal Children’s Day on November 20, 2010 (see video below) and is actively engaged with people and organizations that are interested in helping these endangered species!