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Annotated captions of Charles Leadbeater: Education innovation in the slums in English

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tedtalks 00:00
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It's a great pleasure to be here.

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It's a great pleasure to speak after

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Brian Cox from CERN.

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I think CERN is the home

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00:11

of the Large Hadron Collider.

tedtalks 00:11
00:14

What ever happened to the Small Hadron Collider?

tedtalks 00:14
00:17

Where is the Small Hadron Collider?

tedtalks 00:17
00:20

Because the Small Hadron Collider once was the big thing.

tedtalks 00:20
00:23

Now, the Small Hadron Collider

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00:26

is in a cupboard, overlooked and neglected.

tedtalks 00:26
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You know when the Large Hadron Collider started,

tedtalks 00:29
00:32

and it didn't work, and people tried to work out why,

tedtalks 00:32
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it was the Small Hadron Collider team

tedtalks 00:35
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who sabotaged it

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00:39

because they were so jealous.

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00:41

The whole Hadron Collider family

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needs unlocking.

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00:46

The lesson of Brian's presentation, in a way --

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all those fantastic pictures --

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is this really:

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that vantage point determines everything that you see.

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What Brian was saying was

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science has opened up successively different vantage points

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from which we can see ourselves,

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01:01

and that's why it's so valuable.

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01:03

So the vantage point you take

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determines virtually everything that you will see.

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01:07

The question that you will ask

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will determine much of the answer that you get.

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And so if you ask this question:

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Where would you look to see the future of education?

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The answer that we've traditionally given to that

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is very straightforward, at least in the last 20 years:

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You go to Finland.

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Finland is the best place in the world to see school systems.

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The Finns may be a bit boring and depressive and there's a very high suicide rate,

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but by golly, they are qualified.

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And they have absolutely amazing education systems.

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So we all troop off to Finland,

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and we wonder at the social democratic miracle of Finland

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and its cultural homogeneity and all the rest of it,

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and then we struggle to imagine how we might

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bring lessons back.

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01:48

Well, so, for this last year,

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with the help of Cisco who sponsored me,

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01:53

for some balmy reason, to do this,

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01:55

I've been looking somewhere else.

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01:58

Because actually radical innovation does sometimes

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come from the very best,

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but it often comes from places

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where you have huge need --

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unmet, latent demand --

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and not enough resources for traditional solutions to work --

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traditional, high-cost solutions,

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which depend on professionals,

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which is what schools and hospitals are.

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So I ended up in places like this.

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This is a place called Monkey Hill.

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It's one of the hundreds of favelas in Rio.

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Most of the population growth of the next 50 years

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will be in cities.

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We'll grow by six cities of 12 million people a year

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for the next 30 years.

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Almost all of that growth will be in the developed world.

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Almost all of that growth will be

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in places like Monkey Hill.

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This is where you'll find the fastest growing

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young populations of the world.

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So if you want recipes to work --

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for virtually anything -- health, education,

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government politics

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and education --

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you have to go to these places.

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And if you go to these places, you meet people like this.

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This is a guy called Juanderson.

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At the age of 14,

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in common with many 14-year-olds in the Brazilian education system,

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he dropped out of school.

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It was boring.

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And Juanderson, instead, went into

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what provided kind of opportunity and hope

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in the place that he lived, which was the drugs trade.

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And by the age of 16, with rapid promotion,

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he was running the drugs trade in 10 favelas.

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He was turning over 200,000 dollars a week.

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He employed 200 people.

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He was going to be dead by the age of 25.

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And luckily, he met this guy,

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who is Rodrigo Baggio,

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the owner of the first laptop to ever appear in Brazil.

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1994, Rodrigo started something

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called CDI,

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which took computers

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donated by corporations,

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put them into community centers in favelas

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and created places like this.

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What turned Juanderson around

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was technology for learning

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that made learning fun and accessible.

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Or you can go to places like this.

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This is Kibera, which is the largest slum in East Africa.

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Millions of people living here,

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stretched over many kilometers.

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And there I met these two,

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Azra on the left, Maureen on the right.

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They just finished their Kenyan certificate

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of secondary education.

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That name should tell you that the Kenyan education system

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borrows almost everything

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from Britain, circa 1950,

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but has managed to make it even worse.

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So there are schools in slums like this.

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They're places like this.

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That's where Maureen went to school.

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They're private schools. There are no state schools in slums.

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And the education they got was pitiful.

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It was in places like this. This a school set up by some nuns

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in another slum called Nakuru.

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Half the children in this classroom have no parents

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because they've died through AIDS.

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The other half have one parent

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because the other parent has died through AIDS.

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So the challenges of education

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in this kind of place

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are not to learn the kings and queens of Kenya or Britain.

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They are to stay alive, to earn a living,

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05:01

to not become HIV positive.

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The one technology that spans rich and poor

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in places like this

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is not anything to do with industrial technology.

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It's not to do with electricity or water.

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It's the mobile phone.

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If you want to design from scratch

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virtually any service in Africa,

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you would start now with the mobile phone.

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Or you could go to places like this.

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This is a place called the Madangiri Settlement Colony,

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which is a very developed slum

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about 25 minutes outside New Delhi,

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where I met these characters

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who showed me around for the day.

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The remarkable thing about these girls,

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and the sign of the kind of social revolution

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sweeping through the developing world

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is that these girls are not married.

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Ten years ago, they certainly would have been married.

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Now they're not married, and they want to go on

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to study further, to have a career.

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They've been brought up by mothers who are illiterate,

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who have never ever done homework.

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05:57

All across the developing world there are millions of parents --

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tens, hundreds of millions --

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who for the first time

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are with children doing homework and exams.

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And the reason they carry on studying

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is not because they went to a school like this.

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This is a private school.

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This is a fee-pay school. This is a good school.

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This is the best you can get

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in Hyderabad in Indian education.

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The reason they went on studying was this.

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This is a computer installed in the entrance to their slum

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by a revolutionary social entrepreneur

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called Sugata Mitra

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who has conducted the most radical experiments,

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showing that children, in the right conditions,

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can learn on their own with the help of computers.

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Those girls have never touched Google.

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They know nothing about Wikipedia.

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Imagine what their lives would be like

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if you could get that to them.

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So if you look, as I did,

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through this tour,

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and by looking at about a hundred case studies

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of different social entrepreneurs

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working in these very extreme conditions,

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look at the recipes that they come up with for learning,

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they look nothing like school.

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What do they look like?

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Well, education is a global religion.

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And education, plus technology,

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is a great source of hope.

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You can go to places like this.

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This is a school three hours outside of Sao Paulo.

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Most of the children there have parents who are illiterate.

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Many of them don't have electricity at home.

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But they find it completely obvious

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to use computers, websites,

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make videos, so on and so forth.

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When you go to places like this

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what you see is that

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education in these settings

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works by pull, not push.

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Most of our education system is push.

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I was literally pushed to school.

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When you get to school, things are pushed at you:

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knowledge, exams,

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systems, timetables.

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If you want to attract people like Juanderson

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who could, for instance,

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buy guns, wear jewelry,

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ride motorbikes and get girls

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through the drugs trade,

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and you want to attract him into education,

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having a compulsory curriculum doesn't really make sense.

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That isn't really going to attract him.

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You need to pull him.

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And so education needs to work by pull, not push.

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And so the idea of a curriculum

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is completely irrelevant in a setting like this.

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You need to start education

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from things that make a difference

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to them in their settings.

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What does that?

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Well, the key is motivation, and there are two aspects to it.

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One is to deliver extrinsic motivation,

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that education has a payoff.

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Our education systems all work

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on the principle that there is a payoff,

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but you have to wait quite a long time.

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That's too long if you're poor.

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Waiting 10 years for the payoff from education

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is too long when you need to meet daily needs,

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when you've got siblings to look after

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or a business to help with.

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So you need education to be relevant and help people

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to make a living there and then, often.

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And you also need to make it intrinsically interesting.

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So time and again, I found people like this.

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This is an amazing guy, Sebastiao Rocha,

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in Belo Horizonte,

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in the third largest city in Brazil.

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He's invented more than 200 games

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to teach virtually any subject under the sun.

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In the schools and communities

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that Taio works in,

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the day always starts in a circle

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and always starts from a question.

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Imagine an education system that started from questions,

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not from knowledge to be imparted,

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or started from a game, not from a lesson,

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or started from the premise

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that you have to engage people first

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before you can possibly teach them.

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Our education systems,

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you do all that stuff afterward, if you're lucky,

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sport, drama, music.

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These things, they teach through.

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They attract people to learning

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because it's really a dance project

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or a circus project

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or, the best example of all --

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El Sistema in Venezuela --

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it's a music project.

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And so you attract people through that into learning,

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10:01

not adding that on after

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all the learning has been done

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and you've eaten your cognitive greens.

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So El Sistema in Venezuela

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uses a violin as a technology of learning.

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10:14

Taio Rocha uses making soap

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as a technology of learning.

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And what you find when you go to these schemes

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is that they use people and places

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in incredibly creative ways.

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Masses of peer learning.

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How do you get learning to people

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when there are no teachers,

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when teachers won't come, when you can't afford them,

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and even if you do get teachers,

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what they teach isn't relevant to the communities that they serve?

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Well, you create your own teachers.

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You create peer-to-peer learning,

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or you create para-teachers, or you bring in specialist skills.

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But you find ways to get learning that's relevant to people

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through technology, people and places that are different.

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10:51

So this is a school in a bus

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10:54

on a building site

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in Pune, the fastest growing city in Asia.

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Pune has 5,000 building sites.

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It has 30,000 children

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on those building sites.

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That's one city.

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Imagine that urban explosion

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that's going to take place across the developing world

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and how many thousands of children

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will spend their school years on building sites.

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Well, this is a very simple scheme

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to get the learning to them through a bus.

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And they all treat learning,

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not as some sort of academic, analytical activity,

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but as that's something that's productive,

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something you make,

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something that you can do, perhaps earn a living from.

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11:36

So I met this character, Steven.

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He'd spent three years in Nairobi living on the streets

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because his parents had died of AIDS.

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And he was finally brought back into school,

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not by the offer of GCSEs,

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but by the offer of learning how to become a carpenter,

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a practical making skill.

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So the trendiest schools in the world,

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High Tech High and others,

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they espouse a philosophy of learning as productive activity.

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Here, there isn't really an option.

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12:01

Learning has to be productive

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in order for it to make sense.

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12:07

And finally, they have a different model of scale,

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and it's a Chinese restaurant model

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of how to scale.

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And I learned it from this guy,

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12:15

who is an amazing character.

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He's probably the most remarkable social entrepreneur

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in education in the world.

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12:21

His name is Madhav Chavan,

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12:23

and he created something called Pratham.

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12:26

And Pratham runs preschool play groups

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for, now, 21 million children in India.

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It's the largest NGO in education in the world.

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12:35

And it also supports working-class kids going into Indian schools.

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He's a complete revolutionary.

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12:40

He's actually a trade union organizer by background,

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and that's how he learned the skills

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to build his organization.

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When they got to a certain stage,

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Pratham got big enough to attract

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some pro bono support from McKinsey.

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McKinsey came along and looked at his model and said,

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"You know what you should do with this, Madhav?

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You should turn it into McDonald's.

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And what you do when you go to any new site

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13:01

is you kind of roll out a franchise.

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And it's the same wherever you go.

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It's reliable and people know exactly where they are.

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And there will be no mistakes."

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And Madhav said,

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"Why do we have to do it that way?

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Why can't we do it more like the Chinese restaurants?"

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There are Chinese restaurants everywhere,

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but there is no Chinese restaurant chain.

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Yet, everyone knows what is a Chinese restaurant.

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They know what to expect, even though it'll be subtly different

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and the colors will be different and the name will be different.

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13:30

You know a Chinese restaurant when you see it.

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These people work with the Chinese restaurant model --

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same principles, different applications and different settings --

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13:38

not the McDonald's model.

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The McDonald's model scales.

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The Chinese restaurant model spreads.

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So mass education

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started with social entrepreneurship

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in the 19th century.

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And that's desperately what we need again

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on a global scale.

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13:55

And what can we learn from all of that?

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13:57

Well, we can learn a lot

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13:59

because our education systems

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are failing desperately in many ways.

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14:03

They fail to reach the people

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14:05

they most need to serve.

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14:08

They often hit their target but miss the point.

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Improvement is increasingly

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difficult to organize;

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our faith in these systems, incredibly fraught.

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14:17

And this is just a very simple way of

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understanding what kind of innovation,

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14:23

what kind of different design we need.

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14:25

There are two basic types of innovation.

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14:27

There's sustaining innovation,

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14:30

which will sustain an existing institution or an organization,

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14:32

and disruptive innovation

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that will break it apart, create some different way of doing it.

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14:37

There are formal settings --

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schools, colleges, hospitals --

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in which innovation can take place,

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and informal settings -- communities,

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families, social networks.

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Almost all our effort goes in this box,

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14:50

sustaining innovation in formal settings,

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14:52

getting a better version

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of the essentially Bismarckian school system

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that developed in the 19th century.

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14:59

And as I said, the trouble with this is that,

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15:01

in the developing world

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there just aren't teachers to make this model work.

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15:06

You'd need millions and millions of teachers

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in China, India, Nigeria

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and the rest of developing world to meet need.

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And in our system, we know

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15:16

that simply doing more of this won't eat into

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deep educational inequalities,

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15:20

especially in inner cities

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15:22

and former industrial areas.

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15:25

So that's why we need three more kinds of innovation.

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15:27

We need more reinvention.

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15:29

And all around the world now you see

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more and more schools reinventing themselves.

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15:35

They're recognizably schools, but they look different.

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15:37

There are Big Picture schools

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in the U.S. and Australia.

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15:41

There are Kunskapsskolan schools

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15:43

in Sweden.

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15:46

Of 14 of them,

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only two of them are in schools.

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15:51

Most of them are in other buildings not designed as schools.

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15:53

There is an amazing school in Northen Queensland

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15:55

called Jaringan.

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15:57

And they all have the same kind of features:

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16:00

highly collaborative, very personalized,

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16:03

often pervasive technology,

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16:05

learning that starts from questions

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16:07

and problems and projects,

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not from knowledge and curriculum.

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16:11

So we certainly need more of that.

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But because so many of the issues in education

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aren't just in school,

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they're in family and community,

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what you also need, definitely,

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is more on the right hand side.

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16:25

You need efforts to supplement schools.

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16:28

The most famous of these is Reggio Emilia in Italy,

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16:31

the family-based learning system

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16:34

to support and encourage people in schools.

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16:37

The most exciting is the Harlem Children's Zone,

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16:40

which over 10 years, led by Geoffrey Canada,

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16:42

has, through a mixture of schooling

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16:44

and family and community projects,

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16:47

attempted to transform not just education in schools,

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but the entire culture and aspiration

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of about 10,000 families in Harlem.

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16:55

We need more of that

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16:57

completely new and radical thinking.

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17:00

You can go to places an hour away, less,

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17:02

from this room,

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just down the road, which need that,

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which need radicalism of a kind that we haven't imagined.

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And finally, you need transformational innovation

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that could imagine getting learning to people

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in completely new and different ways.

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17:18

So we are on the verge, 2015,

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of an amazing achievement,

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the schoolification of the world.

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17:26

Every child up to the age of 15 who wants a place in school

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17:28

will be able to have one in 2015.

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17:30

It's an amazing thing.

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17:32

But it is,

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unlike cars, which have developed

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17:36

so rapidly and orderly,

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17:39

actually the school system is recognizably

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17:41

an inheritance from the 19th century,

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17:44

from a Bismarkian model of German schooling

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17:47

that got taken up by English reformers,

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and often by

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17:52

religious missionaries,

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17:54

taken up in the United States

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as a force of social cohesion,

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17:59

and then in Japan and South Korea as they developed.

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18:01

It's recognizably 19th century in its roots.

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And of course it's a huge achievement.

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18:05

And of course it will bring great things.

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It will bring skills and learning and reading.

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But it will also lay waste to imagination.

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It will lay waste to appetite. It will lay waste to social confidence.

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It will stratify society

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as much as it liberates it.

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18:20

And we are bequeathing to the developing world

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school systems that they will now spend

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a century trying to reform.

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18:28

That is why we need really radical thinking,

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18:30

and why radical thinking is now

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more possible and more needed than ever in how we learn.

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18:35

Thank you. (Applause)