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I will provide a summary of the show's segments in several posts (because when I see a long post I tend not to read it).

I finally watched the (1 hour) TED on education this weekend and was impressed and inspired. I highly recommend it. It featured a lot of teachers and students and some outside views (e.g. Bill Gates). If you can’t find it repeated on PBS, I am sure it is on the web.

Here is a summary of the first 3 presenters:

The first presenter (Ms Pearson), clearly a very enthusiastic person, had taught all her life and her family had been teachers for generations. She emphasized the need for the “Human Connection” between teacher and student. She gave an example where a teacher had told her it was the teacher’s job to “present the plan and grade the tests, not make human connections”. She asked the teacher why she/he thought students would learn from a teacher they didn’t like. She gave an example where she (substitute) taught a math lesson wrong and apologized to the class the next day. They said they didn’t correct her because she was so excited about giving the lesson! She gave an example where a student missed 18 out of 20 questions on a quiz so she gave him a +2. The student asked “isn’t this an F” – “yes” – “then why did you give a +2” – “because you didn’t miss them all, you got 2 right and I think you can do better in the future, don’t you?” – “yes, I can do better”. (Something like this happened to me and I still remember that incident and that teacher and it did inspire me to do better). She said a minus 18 would just drag a student down, but the plus 2 let her turn it into a positive.

The second presenter was a chemistry teacher who was clearly very interactive and inspirational with his children. He said it was very important to inspire your students and make them want to learn. He pointed out that his 4 year old daughter asks “why” about everything, and therefore he could teacher her anything because she wants to learn. You want to make your students ask “why”, that means they want to learn. He shows a simple experiment he did that sparked a long class conversation about why it worked that way – he didn’t just give them the answer, he made them think about it and discuss it. He briefly points out that we should be wary of going too much toward internet-video type of teaching as that can just get lost in the clutter of all the other internet noise. (But I feel they can be valuable supplements, especially if they are motivated to use them on their own in addition to good class learning).

The third presenter was a student going to a prestigious high school. He made the salient point that there was a difference between knowledge and understanding. He compared it to his classical piano playing, where you could play an extremely difficult passage well by memorizing it and lots of practice. Then he pointed out his jazz piano playing where you had to ad lib and understand how to properly “make up something” that actually works with what is going on.
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