Education TEDx

Why a good education benefits us all — even if you’re long past being a student

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PencilsTimothy Bartik says that investing in early childhood education is not just good for the children involved — but for communities as a whole. In today’s talk, he offers a detailed look at how preschool education boosts local economies in colossal ways.

Timothy Bartik: The economic case for preschool Timothy Bartik: The economic case for preschool “Early childhood education can bring more and better jobs to a state and can thereby promote higher per-capita earnings for the state’s residents,” says Bartik in this talk, given ay TEDxMiamiUniversity in Ohio. “When legislatures and others think about economic development, what they first of all think about are business tax incentives. Early childhood programs can do the exact same thing.”

To hear exactly how it works, listen to this talk. His fresh perspective moves the topic of improving schools away from the altruistic “wouldn’t it be nice if…” level. In fact, it forces us to ask not “How can I get a good education for my kids?” but “How can I get a good education for everyone else’s kids?” It’s a shift in thinking — one that reframes the discussion about education reform.

The TEDx program, with its global reach, is privileged to have a unique perspective on education. Below, watch five TEDx Talks (and one bonus TED Talk) that explore some of the social, economic and political implications of guaranteeing good schools.

The impact desegregation had on schools: Rucker Johnson at TEDxMiamiUniversity
As schools were desegregated in the 1950s and 1960s, opponents feared that embracing students from low-performing, all-black schools would lower standards and unfairly disrupt white students’ performances. It’s been 60 years — were they right? No. As Rucker Johnson shows with his extensive research, desegregation had virtually no effect on white students, but propelled minority students to unprecedented levels of success.

No more easy answers: Adrián Paenza at TEDxJoven@RiodelaPlata
All too often, school lessons set concrete problems with clean answers. Which, suggests Adrián Paenza, can limit students’ creative problem-solving abilities. But perhaps more importantly, it can engender arrogance — setting classist expectations for the answers everyone ought to know. With humor and a few touching stories, he looks at some of the effects that unequal educational opportunities have on society. (In Spanish with English subtitles.)

Don’t mistake a dialect for a disorder: Sade Wilson at TEDxEMU
African American Vernacular English is a common dialect in the US. It’s not bad English, yet kids who grow up speaking it at home are too often misdiagnosed with speech and learning disabilities by teachers who either don’t recognize the dialect or give tests in their own dialect of English. At TEDxEMU, speech pathologist Sade Wilson sheds light on the issue and makes six recommendations to improve how teachers work with students who speak a dialect.

Where’s the R&D for better schools? Jim Shelton at TEDxMidAtlantic
If education is an essential social good, shouldn’t we make a bigger effort to figure out what’s worth investing in and what’s not? Governments invest in education, and governments invest in research, but according to Jim Shelton, many countries don’t invest much in education research. In this talk from TEDxMidAtlantic, he calls for expanding public investment into the research and development of new education practices and platforms.

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A girl who demanded school: Kakenya Ntaiya at TEDxMidAtlantic
Kakenya Ntaiya made an unusual deal with her father in order to go to high school – something unheard-of for girls in her Maasai village. After continuing on to college in the US., Ntaiya returned to her village and set up a school for girls. In this talk, she shows how the school is changing the local culture by creating an alternative path for girls uninterested in marriage in their early teens.

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Teaching design for change: Emily Pilloton at TEDGlobal 2010
And now for a TED Talk with a similar theme: Bertie County was known for being the poorest region of North Carolina. In this talk, Emily Pilloton suggests that teaching design in school may be key to lifting the entire area. By giving students the tools to dream up and fabricate real projects for the community good, Bertie County got bus shelters and a farmer’s market – while students got paying summer jobs.