TED on Education on PBS

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The hot TED conferences came to PBS this week, for their first-ever television broadcast of one of their legendary conferences, and they chose the topic of education for the broadcast.

(TED, for those who don’t know, is the Technology, Entertainment, and Design conference series.  Many TED talks can be found online, it’s a great series.)

Famed musician John Legend hosted the PBS show, and introduced the theme by talking about the high school dropout rate in the nation, but going on to discuss innovative approaches to education.  TED talks have a reputation for being unusually innovative, edgy, sometimes controversial, always insightful and intelligent.  And the PBS broadcast was no exception.

Speakers included Microsoft founder Bill Gates, Geoffrey Canada (CEO of Harlem’s Children Zone), Pearl Arredendo (Founder of the San Fernando Institute for Applied Media), and Sir Ken Robinson, who was introduced as “the most viewed speaker on TED.Com, and he was named one of the world’s most elite thinkers on creativity and innovation by Fast Company magazine, and in England, he’s been knighted by the Queen“. 

Sir Robinson made it clear in the discussion, which took place in the United States, that even though he’s been knighted, he hadn’t “just popped” over to America to give the TED talk, explaining that he and his wife lives in the United States.  But he added “truthfully, we moved to Los Angeles, thinking we were moving to America … it’s a short plane ride from Los Angeles to America.” 

He went on to praise the “wonderful work” happening in the U.S., but stating that it’s happening “in spite of the dominant culture of education, not because of it.”  He went on to observe the great success of “alternative” education programs, and how well they work, with community involvement, personalization, strong support for teachers, diverse curriculum, but added that “what’s interesting to me is, these are called alternative education … if we all did that, there would be no need for the alternative.”

The entire show lasted an hour, and is definitely worth viewing online at the PBS website.


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