PROCESS POST: Playing with words. Words matter. And all change is linguistic.

Words matter. And “all change is linguistic.”

It’s intriguing to me that we play guitar, we play soccer, and we play a role on stage. Yet, we take algebra, we take English, and we take history. I may be remembering my French incorrectly, but I think many of the expressions for play are composed of the verb “faire” – to do or to make. I love that. Isn’t that what we are realizing about our 2.0 world – that the masses are now empowered to be producers of content and creativity, not just consumers of such? That we are more empowered now to do and to make and to play even.

Are we, in fact, keeping up with this evolution in schools?

Perhaps we should do and make and play more – instead of take – in school.

Or consider the word we often use when one teacher decides to use an idea from another teacher. What do we regularly say? “Oh, I’m going to steal that idea.”

We talk of children getting an education. I’ve written before of children giving an education. Recently, at TEDxAtlanta “Edge of the South,” I heard Brian Preston speak about Lamon Luther and giving hope. I’ve also just read about his story on CNN, where I also watched a moving, three-minute video about the doing and making that helped people discover better lives.

If you read this blog much, you know that I believe school children can do and make this kind of work, too. They are capable. They care. They seek relevance and engagement. They appreciate guidance and support. They can do and make…good and well. They can give…even better than they can get.

To me, a thread that could hold all of the above together is the thread of SHARE. Enough taking and stealing. Let’s do, make, play, and share. Where do we first learn to share? Through play.

Perhaps we should play more. There’s certainly great evidence and thoughtfulness around this idea. The educationese is “play-based learning.”

When we play, we often find flow. We lose track of time, and an hour can seem like a minute. We perform more optimally as we become absorbed and fully engaged in what we are doing. Often, we are “giving our all” in these situations. Not taking. Something deep within us is being drawn and pulled out of us – something is being forged and revealed.

Words matter. And all change is linguistic.

As I’ve written many times before, I love the root of “education” – educare. To draw out from within. Or to guide out of the regular.

We need to share more. Play more. We should be guiding students to give an education. We should make certain that we are working to draw out from within, instead of trying to fill up from without. We should rebalance and guide out from the regular. We should do. Make. Play. Share.

What a difference could be made.

There is great value in crafting and making things, especially things designed for relevance. #TEDxAtlanta

Another theme that emerged from TEDxAtlanta “Edge of the South”

There is great value in crafting and making things, especially things designed for relevance.

Then, in reviewing Wednesday’s weekly EdSurge publication, I found the quote below, addressing The New MakerBot Replicator:

“Much as the first generation of software entrepreneurs were kids like the young Bill Gates, who grew up with the first machines and intuitively grasped their potential, so the next generation of 3-D-printing innovators may be children. High schools would be smart to bring back shop class but rename it design class, a shift that really would entail just adding a few MakerBots to the school’s existing computer labs. How many students wouldn’t rather design and print real things than mock up yet another PowerPoint presentation?”

How might we re-imagine school so that student-learners are more engaged on a regular basis with designing, modeling, crafting, creating, drafting, building, and producing…crafting and making things, especially things that are designed for relevance?

Be sure to read:

The New MakerBot Replicator Might Just Change Your World

PROCESS POST: Brittany Wenger, TEDxAtlanta, and Re-Imagining School

Live like you’ll die tomorrow. Learn like you’ll live forever.

Ben Dunlap, The life-long learner, #TED

Yesterday, on September 25, I lived on an edge with a number of inspiring people gathered on a common edge – people who are living like they could die tomorrow and learning like they could live forever. Gathered in Unboundary’s TED Dome, more than 300 movers and shakers came together for TEDxAtlanta “Edge of the South.” We lived and learned with “12 Southerners who are breaking new ground. In art, filmmaking, media, and fashion. In business, social innovation, energy production and the sciences.” I grow giddy with excitement and anticipation about these TEDxAtlanta days…

Here’s a quick Storify that captures a bit of the incredible experience for me:

Once again, though, I failed to ask my most burning question:

“So, in what ways did your formal schooling propel you on your current path, and in what ways did your formal schooling impede your current path?”

I remain optimistically frustrated by this question. Certainly, most everyone with whom I’ve ever talked can remember a moment in school or a particular teacher that contributed to his or her unique path in life. Of course, all of those same people can also name an aspect of formal schooling that existed as an obstacle to their journey, too.

We can learn so much about how to continue improving school by exploring this question.

I could recount more than a thousand stories or thoughts inspired at TEDxAtlanta “Edge of the South.” At this particular event, however, one stands out…

“Brittany Wenger, 17, Wins Google Science Fair Grand Prize For Breast Cancer Diagnosis App.”

If you missed Brittany’s talk, I cannot wait for you to see it when the videos are processed and uploaded to the TEDxAtlanta site. Yes, she spoke of being inspired and supported by a biology teacher and a computer science teacher. And she spoke of the project that she undertook as an independent study – partly due to the fact that her school does not engage in a science fair system, partly due to the fact that her work did not “fit” into her required coursework.

Motivated by a passion to make a difference in the lives of others and in medical science, Brittany combined biological biopsy processes with cloud-based artificial intelligence to create an app – Cloud4Cancer – that could just be a revolution for breast cancer detection, prevention, and treatment.

And Brittany worked on this primarily “outside of school.”

Why couldn’t this BE school? Let me ask that in a more positive manner…

How might we re-imagine school so that a veritable army of learners – students and teachers together – might contribute to the problem identification and solutions-finding for our world’s grand challenges and issues?

[Out of time to write, for now! There are deep connections among the TEDxAtlanta “Edge of the South” speakers…and educational transformation. There are deep connections between Ben Dunlap’s talk and re-imagining schools.]

CHANGEd: What if we rethink time and curriculum for grand challenges? 60-60-60 #7

At TEDxAtlanta: Community on Tuesday, I heard many amazing thinkers and doers. Among them, Rhonda Lowry shared the idea that networked literacy is essential – that we must value relational connections over industrial-age containers (like…bell schedules?!). At virtually all the TED and TEDx events, we hear from amazing folks that are making positive differences in the world. What if we tried 1/2 time with the traditional departmentalized subjects and re:purposed the resulting 1/2 time as “grand challenge curriculum.” We could explore and attack the various challenges of our “real world” and benefit mightily from the problem-solving and transdisciplinary studies.

[My word count today is 95. I embrace that failure! Thanks for reading the extra 50+%. I could write for WEEKS and MONTHS just on this topic!]

CHANGEd: What if…60-60-60 Project Explained


Logan Smalley (of Darius Goes West and TEDxAtlanta-RE:SOLVE) and TED recently launched TED-ED and the TED-ED Brain Trust. Because of my good fortune to serve part of my five-week sabbatical at Unboundary, I was able to participate in a conference call with Logan, as well as Tod Martin and Jenn Graham of Unboundary. Today, I made my first extended exploration of the TED-ED Brain Trust, via the Forum. WOW! Through the power of crowd-sourcing (the idea that WE are smarter than ME) and an incredible set of discussions happening on virtually countless threads – all woven together by the myriad ways that TED and education can help advance and enhance one another – the community is shaping the birth and emergence of TED-ED. Below are a teaser video and Logan’s e-mail explanation of the TED-ED Brain Trust. I am thrilled to be a participant in and contributor to this community, and I am beyond excited to add TED-ED to my daily ritual and routine of reading and research.

Dear TED-ED early registrants,

When we announced the TED-ED Brain Trust from the Long Beach stage, we expected a few hundred of you “TEDucators” to express interest in this new initiative. We hoped for 1,000. Your impassioned response to this announcement, however — your collective desire to guide TED in enriching education around the world — exceeded our wildest expectations.

In a little more than one week, over 10,000 of you — educators, students, filmmakers, animators and creative professionals from around the world — pre-registered for the TED-ED Brain Trust. We believe the collective expertise of this burgeoning community is capable of revolutionizing education.

We are so grateful for your personal interest in guiding the creation of TED-ED, and today, we are pleased to invite you to officially join the TED-ED Brain Trust.

What is the TED-ED Brain Trust?
It is an online forum where we ask you, the TED-ED community, to congregate and help shape and accelerate TED’s push into the realm of education. Your input will define this initiative’s trajectory.

We have some budding ideas of how TED content (both existing and new) can be used to enhance formal and informal learning experiences — and you can see these set out very clearly on the homepage, and in various other areas of the site. But in these early, formative stages of TED-ED, we are equally interested in hearing how you, the experts, believe TED can best serve learners around the world.

You’ll find that we’ve populated the TED-ED forum with specific questions on TED’s potential in education. On a programmatic level, finding consensus on these topics is a crucial step in the initial development of TED-ED. You will also find a free-range discussion area in the forum. We hope that you, as a community, will use this area of the TED-ED Brain Trust to express (and improve) your own ideas.

A Soft-Launch — Setting the Tone
We are opening the Brain Trust to all 10,000+ pre-registrants. When you re-register, you will likely find an open and somewhat empty forum. We ask that you swiftly employ your expertise to answer or participate wherever you feel qualified! The comments you make will not only be read by all of the incoming TED-EDsters, but they will also help set the tone of this entire endeavor.

You are the founders of TED-ED. This is your community. If you know someone whose voice needs to be heard in this forum, we encourage you to invite them to join.

We look forward to reading all of your fantastic ideas. Thank you for helping us launch the TED-ED Brain Trust.

Registration link:
(You will need to re-register to participate in the forum.)

All the best,
Logan Smalley – TED-ED Catalyst
Chris Anderson – TED Curator