TED Talk on International Education

Abdreas Schleicher,  “Use data to build better schools” (19:47)


Andreas Schleicher uses the PISA test, an assessment tool that ranks the educational systems of different countries – to discuss and examine some of the similarities of high performing schools systems.  The Program of International Student Assessment (PISA) was designed to determine if students would extrapolate from what they know and apply their knowledge in novel situations.

My take-a-way was to question: Is it becoming acceptable to believe that you do not have to compromise equality to achieve excellence in schools?  For years, this writer has heard from different segments of the community that one of the reasons that the United States, in spite of a superior educational system, is not at the top is because we try to educate everyone.  My second take-a-way was that a paradigm ship in public opinion and educational policies, as it relates to the education of disadvantaged and minority students, will have to a occur before we can achieve educational equality for all students.

Best Practices:

1) Make choices that value education for everyone.

2) Believe that all children are capable of success.

3) Develop a mind-set that effort equates with success.

4) Embrace diversity with differentiated pedagogical practices.

5) Be selective in how teachers are recruited and trained.

6) Set ambitious standards for teaches and students.

7) Set educational policies that align across all areas and ensure they are coherent and consistently followed.

TED Talk on International Education

Eddie Obeng “Smart failure for a fast-changing world” (12:37)


Eddie Obeng highlights three important changes we should understand for better productivity.  He also calls for a stronger culture of “smart failure”.  He feels, and this writer agrees, that in this rapidly changing world, we have moved into the world of globalization.  The speed, scale and density of the interactions between cultures are happening at unimaginable acceleration.

The take-a-way was we are treading in uncharted waters in this new age of globalization and technology.  We need to be creative and innovative in educating our children, young adults and citizens because there is no blueprint for success.

Best Practices:

1) Infuse technology into learning.

2) Study other cultures to understand the similarities/differences to your own.

3) Teach tolerance.

4) Teach that it is okay to make mistakes: you can learn from them.

5) Teach critical thinking skills.

6) Incorporate project learning into the curriculum

TED Talk on International Education

Sir Ken Robinson,  “Changing education paradigms”  (11:40)


In this video Sir Ken Robinson gives an overview of our educational system.  He talks about creativity in the classrooms and how today’s education needs a paradigm shift in order to meet the challenges of the future.  Much of what he suggests to improve education is already incorporated in the Montessori methodology.

As a traditional teacher in the public school system, I was instructed through professional development workshops to individualize lessons, teach from the child’s level, do cooperative learning, use manipulates, teach from the concrete to the abstract. Although the workshops and the information were valid, there was no cohesiveness to the various elements.  How was this to be accomplished with a textbook, a set curriculum and a strict schedule of what and when everything was to be taught?  No one showed me how to do this or provided the materials to implement this individualized, manipulative using, cooperative learning environment.  Later in my career, I was introduced to the Montessori curriculum and everything fell into place.

My take-a-way from this TED Talk is that this paradigm shift that Sir Ken Robinson envisions already exists.  It is the Montessori method for educating children.

Best Practices:

1) Train all teachers in the Montessori method.

2) Use manipulates to introduce and teach skills.

3) Give children choice in what they learn and when they learn it.

4) Incorporate multi-aged heterogeneous grade groups.

5) Provide for gradual transition from concrete to abstract concepts.

6) Make opportunities for concentration a priority.

7) Develop/maintain student/teacher interactions that exhibit courtesy and respect.

TED Talk on International Education

Laura Boushnak, “For these women, reading is a daring act” (5:05)


Photographer Laura Boushnak tells the stories of three women from Yemen, Egypt and Tunisia who dare to challenge the system in their quest to gain an education. My take away from this video is that the denial of an education in some countries is a way of keeping women dependent upon and subservient to men.  It is a means to get and maintain control and power over women.  In spite of great opposition, women are going to school to gain some sense of independence because they believe they are in a better position to take charge of their lives when they are educated.

I also saw some similarities to education in the United States for the under-class and education for women in these Arabic countries. In the United States, higher-level academic courses are withheld from certain students.   The status quo is maintained through a selection process for specialized magnet programs, gifted classes, AP classes, honor courses, etc., for the “advanced students”.

In spite of the unbelievable odds, the women in the video were able to improve their situations.

Best Practices

1) Have women share their stories as a means to becoming role models.

2) Share women’s success stories to inspire and motivate other women.

3) Question convictions and expose barriers you may face.

4) Use a collaborative approach to solving or exposing issues of concern.

5) Connect education to the real world of getting a job, making a living, having a family, etc.

TED Talk on International Education

Kakenya Ntaiya, “A girl who demanded school” (15:16)


Kekenya Ntaiya made a deal with her father.  She would undergo a traditional Maasai rite of passage, female genital mutilation, if he would let her go to school after eighth grade.  My take way from this video was the horrific suffering and degradation to which many women around the world are subjected.  I was amazed at how matter-of-factly Ms. Ntaiya related her rites of passage in her female genital mutilation ceremony.  Something so brutal as female circumcision was apparently viewed as an ordinary and acceptable custom to be celebrated. Most alarming, it was administered by women upon young girls.

It hit me!!  She was not objecting to the ceremony.  She was bargaining to go to school.  She was cleaver enough to realize that she had the upper hand because if she refused the ceremony, it would embarrass her father.  She would somehow be seen as an immoral woman if she did not undergo the procedure.  The men of her village were using their form of morality to exert control over the women.  Ms. Ntaiya was in an oppressive and abusive situation and she worked to find an out.  She took a stand and found a way to achieve her goal of furthering her education. I wonder what customs we currently practice today that might be seen by others today and in the future as uncivilized.

Best Practices

1) Set goals.

2) Be optimistic about what you want to achieve.

3) Be confident, determined and passionate in your quest to meet your goal(s).

4) Be creative in finding solutions to obstacles you may encounter.

5) Be bold and stand up for your beliefs.

TED Talk on International Education

Hanna Rosin,  “New data on the rise of women”  (16:12)


Hanna Rosin reveals new data that shows women surpassing men in several important areas, such as, college graduation rates and young women earning more than young men.  After viewing this video, there was a paradigm shift my vision of how the future would look.  A vision that became a little confused and I must admit a little uncomfortable.  I am not so sure that I want the woman to become the “man”. I believe Ms. Rosin is a little over optimistic in her forecast of the status of women in the future.  Without a doubt, women are making progress in the market place; however, it is still a man’s world.  The real power is still and, I believe, will continue to be held by men for the indefinite future.  You only have to watch the news to see that the vast majority of those who make and control the policies that govern our lives are men.  They will not relinquish that power without a fight.

Women have been striving for equality for centuries. Regardless of the data, the battle has not been won.  The fight must continue.

Best Practices

1) Pursue an education in order to know your history.

2) Learn to focus.

3) Communicate openly.

4) Be flexible in your thinking and outlook.

5) Be a good listener.

6) Build teams that can be creative.