"I would argue that the most important infrastructure we have are minds, educated minds."
- Amel Karboul, Oct 2017, TED@BCG, Milan
Podcasts are a great way to keep up with new ideas and thoughts as well as to broaden the mind and challenge yourself. TED Talks Daily is one of the podcasts I listen to, and occasionally I will skip an episode because the subject is too far away from my interest to engage, or the speaker is not at all engaging. Recently, however, I listened to the global learning crisis and what to do about it. It was just merely the next episode in the list.
When the Dr. Amel Karboul opened by commenting that she is "the product of a bold leadership decision," and goes on to say that the first Tunisian President, Habib Bourguiba, made a decision to invest twenty percent of the country's national budget into education to ensure high-quality, free, education for every child, both girls and boys.
Immediately, my ears perked up. I did not know what percentage of our budget was dedicated to education (I have since looked and for 2017-18, it appears to be 7.28% based on this document) but I did not think it would be anywhere near twenty percent. There were protests, cries of what about...with lots of key infrastructure needs pointed to, however, Amel made an interesting point when she commented that she sees educated minds as the most important infrastructure.
Without an educated populace, how do you advance society?
Our national budget for 2017-18 is $464.3 billion dollars, investing twenty percent of that would be $92.86 billion. What could be achieved in education if that amount was invested? What gaps across early childhood, primary, secondary, and tertiary could be filled? Personally, I believe there would need to be a mix between investment in paying educators properly, particularly in early childhood, and investment in infrastructure. How many schools have old and ugly demountable buildings? How much more effective would it be to provide more space for the students to run around and play games during breaks if we built up? My school had thirteen demountables. Removing those and going three stories (at one end, only two stories at the other due to slope) provided so much more space for the students.
Forgetting about politics and the discussion around the funding split, what could be achieved if the government decided to invest in the future and value education so highly?
This point about valuing education and how much is invested is not even the most important point from Amel's talk, but it was one that struck me as significant given the current climate around education funding here in Australia.
“People don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it.”
– Simon Sinek
Last year I wrote two articles examining the SAMR model (part one, part two) where I wrote, rather naively, about what I understood the SAMR model to be and how it could be implemented within schools. Yesterday I received a tweet from a fellow teacher and Twitterer, Aaron Davis (@mrkrndvs) with a link to an article that he had written, Did someone say…SAMR. The article prompted a proverbial dive down the rabbit hole, as I read through a few additional articles linked within his original article, and also watched a very interesting TEDTalk by Simon Sinek.
I would rather you read through Aaron’s article yourself, and I will not be posting a recap here of it, as I believe it to be an important article for anyone who considers themselves au fait with technology in the classroom as it may change the way you think about the way it is used, and more importantly, the why of its use. Also within Aaron’s article are a number of other variations on SAMR and models for thinking about why technology is used in the classroom, which are well worth examining in their own right.
In addition to the article, I would encourage you to read the article that Aaron wrote regarding Simon Sinek’s TEDTalk, which can be found here.. The video included the video of Simon Sinek’s TEDTalk here.
An interesting article to read in tandem with Aaron’s is An End to “21st Century” Learning Tools by Richard Wells, a secondary teacher in New Zealand, which discusses the separation of digital learning and learning. Richard challenges us to stop thinking about twenty-first century learning tools and to think simply about learning tools, and to stop thinking about digital learning tools with modern learning technologies and instead to think about learning tools with learning technologies.
The TED Talk phenomenon has been an incredible revelation over the last few years in spreading ideas across the world, particularly when coupled with YouTube as a content dissemination platform. This evening I watched a TEd Talk by Pranav Mistry from November 2009. The opening is a little dry, however the technology that is demonstrated, technology known as Sixth Sense Technology, is absolutely incredible.
The Sixth Sense augmentation technology makes use of some reasonably basic technologies, but it is the way in which the technologies, including a projector and a camera, are utilised that is revolutionary. Pranav explains the development of the technology, and thought dry, is quite interesting.
I include the video here for your perusal, and I would very much like to hear from anyone who has encountered or used this technology, particularly if you have done so in an educational context.