[ted id=1649]According to Colin Powell, the retired four-star general and former United States Secretary of State, learning to give a salute can be life changing.
Geoff Mulgan: A short intro to the Studio School At TED, many have shared what they believe to be missing from our current education system — Ken Robinson says its space for kids to flex their creative muscles while Geoff Mulgan argues it’s a lack of hands-on doing. But in today’s talk, given at TEDxMidAtlantic, Powell gives a very different answer. He says that what kids really crave is structure.
To explain what he means, Powell tells his own story of growing up in the New York public school system. He admits that he wasn’t a very good student.
“I didn’t do well at all … straight ‘C’ everywhere,” says Powell, revealing that he felt lucky to be accepted into the City College of New York given his grades. “Then I found ROTC. I found something that I did well and something that I loved doing … From there, my whole life was dedicated to ROTC and the military.”
Powell says that it was the army’s sense of order that allowed him to change his course and become one of CCNY’s most famous graduates. And it’s a phenomenon he sees repeated whenever a new class of shows up for boot camp.
“The first thing we do is put them in an environment of structure — put them in ranks, make them all wear the same clothes, cut all their hair off so they look alike … teach them to obey instructions and understand the consequences of not obeying,” says Powell. “The most amazing thing happens over that time. Once that structure is developed, once they understand the reasoning … in 18 weeks they have a skill, they are matured … We need more of this kind of structure and respect in the lives of our children.”
To hear Powell’s ideas on how to provide structure, and the importance of “the gift of a good start,” listen to his talk. And here, watch more talks by and about military generals.
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