A few weeks ago we spent the day at Tedx Manhattan Beach.  “Transforming Learning” was the banner theme of this one day conference and John Marston and his team did an amazing job of bringing together a wonderful collective of thought leaders in the field of education, science, technology, and entertainment.  At a time when the future of education is a hot button issue for most (and certainly for all of us who care), there isn’t a community anywhere in the world today that isn’t experiencing the growing pains of a schooling system that’s been ravaged by budget cuts, personnel issues, and the rapid advances in technology.

Whether you subscribe to the notion that technology is a bad thing and responsible for crushing the cornerstones of education, or you believe that an iPad and pacifier should be the birth right of every kid born today, nobody can doubt that we are at an historical crossroads with our educational system.  Leading the charge into this new frontier are teachers, scientists, filmmakers and architects and the conference brought the same to Manhattan Beach for a genuinely provocative and riveting day.  All of the speakers at TedxMB were superb, but there were a few stand-outs, whose notions about the current and future trajectory of education, resonated with us.

SIR KEN ROBINSON – Engage

While it would have been amazing to see him in person, the day opened with a video of Sir Ken Robinson circa 2006 TED in Monterey California.  If you haven’t seen it, here’s the video:

In his talk, Sir Ken suggests that creativity is as important today as literacy.  We would agree with that—specially given, as Ken points out, the unpredictability of our future and the subsequent need to prepare our kids for the great unknown.  He’s certainly correct when he points out how schools and our antiquarian systems, by and large, kill creativity.  We need to encourage creativity and maintain a progressive standard of teaching if we are to adequately equip our kids for a future filled with uncertainty.  Simply put, we must prepare ourselves to be wrong from an early age, lest we be frightened into stagnation.

THOMAS SUAREZ – Discover

If you were wondering who the next Steve Jobs is going to be, we found him.  His name is Thomas Suarez and he’s in the 6th grade.  A master of ceremonies, technology, and winning the hearts of the audience, Thomas shared his story of creating and selling some very successful mobile apps on the iTunes store.  (Earth Fortune / Bustin Jieber).  After convincing his parents to purchase the app developers kit from Apple, Thomas began creating.  For the tech naysayers out there, you must see this kid.  He is a tech wiz, well-spoken, funny, and managed to mesmerize a room full of adults.  Funny, how his creative foray into tech also gave him the gift of public presence.


For more great speakers from TEDx Manhattan Beach, check out Part II

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