Education

TED Weekends emphasizes the importance of the student-teacher relationship

Posted by: Kate Torgovnick May
Rita-Pierson-at-TED-Talks-Education

Rita Pierson and Sir Ken Robinson both give incredible talks in the PBS special TED Talks Education. Photo: Ryan Lash

As the daughter and granddaughter of educators, teaching is in Rita Pierson’s blood. In this talk Rita Pierson: Every kid needs a champion Rita Pierson: Every kid needs a champion a teaser of next Tuesday’s TED Talks Education on PBS — Pierson is going to make you wish you had been lucky enough to be her student. Pierson believes deeply in forming strong bonds with her students: through simple things like apologizing, laughing and just acknowledging their successes, even in times when they are technically failing.

Pierson challenges other teachers to understand the power of relationships. And this week’s TED Weekends on the Huffington Post explores the influence of connections in the classroom. We are especially excited about this edition because it contains not only a beautiful essay from Pierson, but also an offering from the most-watched speaker on TED.com, Sir Ken Robinson, who also appear in TED Talks Education. Read excerpts of both amazing essays below.

Rita F. Pierson: This Will Make You Appreciate Your Elementary School Teacher

Teachers don’t make a lot of money. They are usually not deemed worthy of news coverage unless there is a scandal or a strike. Most of the time, their major accomplishments are shared only with colleagues and family members and not the media. The celebration is often cut short by some catastrophe the next day. Yet, in spite of the highs and lows, I cannot think of another profession that brings both joy and challenge on a daily basis.

In the spring of my career, I found myself questioning the choice of my life’s work. The students did not appear to be motivated, the paperwork was overwhelming and the constant change of educational direction was discouraging. But, I just could not seem bring myself to do anything else. “Next year”, I would say. “Next year I will switch jobs, make more money and have far less stress.”

Next year just never came. I am now in year 40. And while I am no longer in the classroom or at the schoolhouse, I remain an educator. It finally dawned on me that there was no other profession that would let me change children’s minds and have an impact on their future, long after the school day and school year were over. For every student that finally “got it,” for every rookie teacher that said, “you inspired me to stay,” I get the raise that never quite made it to my paycheck. Read more »

Sir Ken Robinson: Why We Need to Reform Education Now

What should America do about its disastrous high school dropout rate? That’s the focus of TED Talks Education, the first ever TED/PBS television special, hosted by John Legend, the award-winning musician. The program looks not only at what’s going wrong in high schools, but how to put it right. As it happens, the solution is not a mystery; but putting it into practice will involve a major shift in current policies.

In 1970, the U.S. had the highest rates of high school graduation in the world, now it has one of the lowest. According to the OECD, the overall U.S. graduation rate is now around 75 percent, which puts America 23rd out of 28 countries surveyed. In some communities the graduation rate is less than 50 percent. About 7,000 young people ‘drop out’ of the nation’s high schools every day, close to 1.5 million a year. The social and economic costs are enormous.

Research indicates that in general, high school graduates are more likely to find employment, to earn at higher levels and to pay more taxes than non-graduates. They’re more likely to go on to college or other learning programs. They’re more likely to engage positively in their communities and less likely to depend on social programs. It’s not true, of course, that pulling out of high school inevitably leads young people into trouble. Many high school ‘drop outs’ have gone on to have extraordinary, successful lives. What is true is that a very high proportion people who are long-term unemployed, homeless, on welfare or in the correctional system do not have high school diplomas. Read more »