Monday, October 15, 2012

6 highly unusual schools


At TEDGlobal, educator Eddie Obeng highlighted a disconcerting thought — that the answers we learned in school aren’t necessarily true anymore.

“This is what happened to us in the 21st century — someone changed the rules about how our world works,” says Obeng in this energetic talk. “The way to successfully run a business, an organization, even a country has been deleted. Flipped! There’s a completely new set of rules in operation … My simple idea is that the real 21st century around us isn’t so obvious to us, so instead we spend our time responding rationally to a world we understand but which no longer exists.”

In the past 40 years, the world’s population has doubled. Meanwhile, large tracts of people have settled in cities, and the Internet has greatly deepened the density of interaction among us. “The pace of change overtakes the pace of learning,” says Obeng.

And yet, most institutions are horribly unprepared to handle rapid shifts. As Obeng explains, “You have to wait all the way for a cycle to fail before you can say, ‘There’s something wrong’ … We solve last year’s problems without thinking about the future.”

It is this challenge that inspired Obeng to found the virtual business school Pentacle. The school focuses on teaching people how to think and innovate in a world where change is the only constant. The key: what Obeng calls “smart failure.” In other words, rewarding those who trailblaze new approaches — even if they don’t work out — as opposed to those who trod along well-worn paths.

To hear more about Obeng’s philosophy, watch his fascinating talk. (Or see several of Obeng’s lessons on Pentacle’s YouTube channel.) And after the jump, take a look at other five TED speakers who founded schools with bold ideas for how to better prepare individuals for our ever-shifting world.




Gever Tulley: Life lessons through tinkering
Gever Tulley is the founder of the Tinkering School, where students are given the materials, tools and guidance to let their creativity run wild. In this talk from TED2009, Tulley shows photos of students building unique boats, bridges and roller coasters in a curriculum that stresses the ability to make things.



Shukla Bose: Teaching one child at a time
Two million people in Bangalore live in slums, and the majority of children there will never attend school. In this talk from TEDIndia in 2009, Shukla Bose describes her impetus for founding the Parikrma Humanity Foundation, a nonprofit that runs four schools for poor children, giving them chances they might never had had without an education.



John Hardy: My green school dream
In this talk from TEDGlobal 2010, John Hardy jokes that Al Gore’s An Inconvenient Truth ruined his life. The documentary inspired him to start the Green School in Bali. While the main school building is open-air and built from bamboo, the curriculum teaches students to build, garden and create.



Bunker Roy: Learning from a barefoot movement
Bunker Roy attended a college that was expensive — and elitist. In this talk from TEDGlobal 2011, Roy describes how spending time in an Indian village, where poverty was rampant, changed the course of his life and led him to found Barefoot College. Unlike a traditional school, Barefoot College is only for the poor, and teaches rural men and women to tap into their innate intelligence and become engineers, doctors or artisans.



Geoff Mulgan: A short intro to the Studio School
Far too many teenagers are bored with school. And when they finally receive their diploma, employers complain that students often aren’t prepared for success in the workplace. In this talk from TEDGlobal 2011, social innovator Geoff Mulgan describes a new approach — The Studio School — which focuses on developing student’s creativity by having them work on practical projects rather than simply listening to lectures.

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Sunday, October 14, 2012

Time to unplug?


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A different view

I came across these designs by jim le page on his site, jim le page's word bible designs (thanks to Jonny Baker - link)Word: Crucifixion (Denial)

Jim creates a design/image riffing on a verse or theme of a book of the bible. He also has a set on flickr. They get you thinking and wondering and give a different persepctive on things that I have read and see hundreds of times before. Thank you, Jim.

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Monday, October 08, 2012

A lesson for all teachers - Nobel prize won by Briton written off in his teens by a science teacher

Sir John Gurdon shares the Nobel prize in physiology or medicine with Shinya Yamanaka, for reprogramming adult cells 

Nobel prizewinner Sir John Gurdon speaks at a press conference on Monday. His biology teacher described his ambitions to become a scientist as 'a sheer waste of time'.

A British researcher whose schoolboy ambition to become a scientist was dismissed as "quite ridiculous" by his Eton schoolmaster has won a Nobel prize for work that proved adult cells can be reprogramed and grown into different tissues in the body.

Sir John Gurdon, 79, of Cambridge University, shares the prize in physiology or medicine - and 8m Swedish kronor (£744,000) cash - with the Japanese scientist Shinya Yamanaka, 50, who holds academic posts at the Universities of Kyoto and San Francisco.

The groundbreaking work has given scientists fresh insights into how cells and organisms develop, and may pave the way for radical advances in medicine that allow damaged or diseased tissues to be regenerated in the lab, or even inside patients' bodies.

Gurdon heard he might have won science's highest honour from a journalist on an Italian newspaper who called his lab at 7.30am on Monday morning, before the announcement had been made. An hour later, he received the official call from Stockholm.

Speaking to reporters in London, he said it was "very gratifying" to be recognised for what has been his life's work. "I hope it encourages others around to feel that science is a good thing to do. There's a danger of some of the best people saying 'I don't want a career in science'," he said.

Prior to the duo's research, many scientists believed adult cells were committed irreversibly to their specialist role, for example, as skin, brain or beating heart cells. Gurdon showed that essentially all cells contained the same genes, and so held all the information needed to make any tissue.

Building on Gurdon's work, Yamanaka developed a chemical cocktail to reprogram adult cells into more youthful states, from which they could grow into many other tissue types.

In a statement, the Nobel Assembly at Stockholm's Karolinska Institute in Sweden, said the scientists had "revolutionised our understanding of how cells and organisms develop".

According to his Eton schoolmaster, the 15-year-old Gurdon did not stand out as a potential scientist. Writing in 2006, Gurdon quoted a school report as saying: "I believe Gurdon has ideas about becoming a scientist; on his present showing this is quite ridiculous; if he can't learn simple biological facts, he would have no chance of doing the work of a specialist, and it would be a sheer waste of time, both on his part and of those who would have to teach him."

That year, Gurdon scored the lowest mark for biology in his year at Eton. "Out of 250 people, to come bottom of the bottom form is quite something, and in a way the most remarkable achievement I could have been said to make," he said.

read the rest here

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About me

I am an African living in Scotland. A son, a father, an ex-husband, a boyfriend, a teacher and friend trying to piece together the stories that my God, my parents, my ex-wife, my girlfriend, my pupils and my friends are telling me, so that I can tell my own story. Thanks to all for your support and advice. I still love good coffee and popcorn.



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