Bring on the Learning Revolution!

Reference: Subject: Education

You may read the transcript here.

Here are the main points from this talk (May 2010):

(1) Currently, there is a crisis of human resources. We make very poor use of our talents. Very many people go through their whole lives having no real sense of what their talents may be, or if they have any to speak of. But there are also those who love what they do and couldn’t imagine doing anything else. But such people are in a minority.

(2) You might imagine education would be the way to create the circumstances where natural talents show themselves, but too often it’s not. Education, in a way, dislocates very many people from their natural talents. What we need is not evolution, but a revolution in education.

(3) One of the real challenges is to innovate fundamentally in education, but we are still hypnotized by the ideas that were formed to cope with the circumstances of previous centuries. Those ideas do not meet the circumstances of this century but we take them for granted and find it difficult to overcome them. For example, in education, we are obsessed with getting people to college because we take it for granted that it is the only way to get set up for the rest of our life. But life is not linear; it is organic.

(4) At the heart of our challenge is to reconstitute our sense of ability and of intelligence. Human communities depend upon a diversity of talent, not a singular conception of ability. We create our lives symbiotically as we explore our talents in relation to the circumstances they help to create for us.

(5) We have sold ourselves into a fast food model of education, where everything is standardized and not customized to local circumstances. It is impoverishing our spirit and our energies as much as fast food is depleting our physical bodies.

(6) Human talent is tremendously diverse. People have very different aptitudes. It’s about passion and what excites our spirit and our energy. And the reason so many people are opting out of education is because it doesn’t feed their spirit, it doesn’t feed their energy or their passion.

(7) We have to go from what is essentially an industrial model of education, which is based on linearity and conformity and batching people, to a model that is based more on principles of agriculture, which recognizes that human flourishing is not a mechanical process, and that it is an organic process. You cannot predict the outcome of human development. All you can do, like a farmer, is create the conditions under which they will begin to flourish.

(8) It’s about customizing to your circumstances and personalizing education to the people you’re actually teaching. It is not about scaling a new solution; it’s about creating a movement in education in which people develop their own solutions, but with external support based on a personalized curriculum.

(9) Today’s extraordinary resources in business, multimedia, and the Internet, combined with the extraordinary talents of teachers, provide an opportunity to revolutionize education. Every day, everywhere, our children spread their dreams beneath our feet. And we should tread softly.


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