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  • at the TED conference I spoke at four years ago

  • and talked about the climate crisis.

  • And I referenced that

  • at the end of my last talk.

  • So I want to pick up from there

  • because I only had 18 minutes, frankly.

  • So, as I was saying...

  • (Laughter)

  • You see, he's right.

  • I mean, there is a major climate crisis, obviously,

  • and I think if people don't believe it, they should get out more.

  • (Laughter)

  • But I believe there's a second climate crisis,

  • which is as severe,

  • which has the same origins,

  • and that we have to deal with with the same urgency.

  • And I mean by this --

  • and you may say, by the way, "Look, I'm good.

  • I have one climate crisis;

  • I don't really need the second one."

  • But this is a crisis of, not natural resources --

  • though I believe that's true --

  • but a crisis of human resources.

  • I believe fundamentally,

  • as many speakers have said during the past few days,

  • that we make very poor use

  • of our talents.

  • Very many people go through their whole lives

  • having no real sense of what their talents may be,

  • or if they have any to speak of.

  • I meet all kinds of people

  • who don't think they're really good at anything.

  • Actually, I kind of divide the world into two groups now.

  • Jeremy Bentham, the great utilitarian philosopher,

  • once spiked this argument.

  • He said, "There are two types of people in this world:

  • those who divide the world into two types

  • and those who do not."

  • (Laughter)

  • Well, I do.

  • (Laughter)

  • I meet all kinds of people

  • who don't enjoy what they do.

  • They simply go through their lives

  • getting on with it.

  • They get no great pleasure from what they do.

  • They endure it rather than enjoy it

  • and wait for the weekend.

  • But I also meet people

  • who love what they do

  • and couldn't imagine doing anything else.

  • If you said to them, "Don't do this anymore," they'd wonder what you were talking about.

  • Because it isn't what they do, it's who they are. They say,

  • "But this is me, you know.

  • It would be foolish for me to abandon this, because

  • it speaks to my most authentic self."

  • And it's not true of enough people.

  • In fact, on the contrary, I think

  • it's still true of a minority of people.

  • I think there are many

  • possible explanations for it.

  • And high among them

  • is education,

  • because education, in a way,

  • dislocates very many people

  • from their natural talents.

  • And human resources are like natural resources;

  • they're often buried deep.

  • You have to go looking for them,

  • they're not just lying around on the surface.

  • You have to create the circumstances where they show themselves.

  • And you might imagine

  • education would be the way that happens,

  • but too often it's not.

  • Every education system in the world

  • is being reformed at the moment

  • and it's not enough.

  • Reform is no use anymore,

  • because that's simply improving a broken model.

  • What we need --

  • and the word's been used many times during the course of the past few days --

  • is not evolution,

  • but a revolution in education.

  • This has to be transformed

  • into something else.

  • (Applause)

  • One of the real challenges

  • is to innovate fundamentally

  • in education.

  • Innovation is hard

  • because it means doing something

  • that people don't find very easy, for the most part.

  • It means challenging what we take for granted,

  • things that we think are obvious.

  • The great problem for reform

  • or transformation

  • is the tyranny of common sense;

  • things that people think,

  • "Well, it can't be done any other way because that's the way it's done."

  • I came across a great quote recently from Abraham Lincoln,

  • who I thought you'd be pleased to have quoted at this point.

  • (Laughter)

  • He said this in December 1862

  • to the second annual meeting of Congress.

  • I ought to explain that I have no idea what was happening at the time.

  • We don't teach American history in Britain.

  • (Laughter)

  • We suppress it. You know, this is our policy.

  • (Laughter)

  • So, no doubt, something fascinating was happening in December 1862,

  • which the Americans among us

  • will be aware of.

  • But he said this:

  • "The dogmas

  • of the quiet past

  • are inadequate to the stormy present.

  • The occasion

  • is piled high with difficulty,

  • and we must rise with the occasion."

  • I love that.

  • Not rise to it, rise with it.

  • "As our case is new,

  • so we must think anew

  • and act anew.

  • We must disenthrall ourselves,

  • and then we shall save our country."

  • I love that word, "disenthrall."

  • You know what it means?

  • That there are ideas that all of us are enthralled to,

  • which we simply take for granted

  • as the natural order of things, the way things are.

  • And many of our ideas

  • have been formed, not to meet the circumstances of this century,

  • but to cope with the circumstances of previous centuries.

  • But our minds are still hypnotized by them,

  • and we have to disenthrall ourselves of some of them.

  • Now, doing this is easier said than done.

  • It's very hard to know, by the way, what it is you take for granted. (Laughter)

  • And the reason is that you take it for granted.

  • So let me ask you something you may take for granted.

  • How many of you here are over the age of 25?

  • That's not what I think you take for granted,

  • I'm sure you're familiar with that already.

  • Are there any people here under the age of 25?

  • Great. Now, those over 25,

  • could you put your hands up if you're wearing your wristwatch?

  • Now that's a great deal of us, isn't it?

  • Ask a room full of teenagers the same thing.

  • Teenagers do not wear wristwatches.

  • I don't mean they can't or they're not allowed to,

  • they just often choose not to.

  • And the reason is, you see, that we were brought up

  • in a pre-digital culture, those of us over 25.

  • And so for us, if you want to know the time

  • you have to wear something to tell it.

  • Kids now live in a world which is digitized,

  • and the time, for them, is everywhere.

  • They see no reason to do this.

  • And by the way, you don't need to do it either;

  • it's just that you've always done it and you carry on doing it.

  • My daughter never wears a watch, my daughter Kate, who's 20.

  • She doesn't see the point.

  • As she says, "It's a single function device."

  • (Laughter)

  • "Like, how lame is that?"

  • And I say, "No, no, it tells the date as well."

  • (Laughter)

  • "It has multiple functions."

  • But, you see, there are things we're enthralled to in education.

  • Let me give you a couple of examples.

  • One of them is the idea of linearity:

  • that it starts here and you go through a track

  • and if you do everything right, you will end up

  • set for the rest of your life.

  • Everybody who's spoken at TED has told us implicitly,

  • or sometimes explicitly, a different story:

  • that life is not linear; it's organic.

  • We create our lives symbiotically

  • as we explore our talents

  • in relation to the circumstances they help to create for us.

  • But, you know, we have become obsessed

  • with this linear narrative.

  • And probably the pinnacle for education

  • is getting you to college.

  • I think we are obsessed with getting people to college.

  • Certain sorts of college.

  • I don't mean you shouldn't go to college, but not everybody needs to go

  • and not everybody needs to go now.

  • Maybe they go later, not right away.

  • And I was up in San Francisco a while ago

  • doing a book signing.

  • There was this guy buying a book, he was in his 30s.

  • And I said, "What do you do?"

  • And he said, "I'm a fireman."

  • And I said, "How long have you been a fireman?"

  • He said, "Always. I've always been a fireman."

  • And I said, "Well, when did you decide?"

  • He said, "As a kid." He said, "Actually, it was a problem for me at school,

  • because at school, everybody wanted to be a fireman."

  • He said, "But I wanted to be a fireman."

  • And he said, "When I got to the senior year of school,

  • my teachers didn't take it seriously.

  • This one teacher didn't take it seriously.

  • He said I was throwing my life away

  • if that's all I chose to do with it;

  • that I should go to college, I should become a professional person,

  • that I had great potential

  • and I was wasting my talent to do that."

  • And he said, "It was humiliating because

  • he said it in front of the whole class and I really felt dreadful.

  • But it's what I wanted, and as soon as I left school,

  • I applied to the fire service and I was accepted."

  • And he said, "You know, I was thinking about that guy recently,

  • just a few minutes ago when you were speaking, about this teacher,"

  • he said, "because six months ago,

  • I saved his life."

  • (Laughter)

  • He said, "He was in a car wreck,

  • and I pulled him out, gave him CPR,

  • and I saved his wife's life as well."

  • He said, "I think he thinks better of me now."

  • (Laughter)

  • (Applause)

  • You know, to me,

  • human communities depend upon

  • a diversity of talent,

  • not a singular conception of ability.

  • And at the heart of our challenges --

  • (Applause)

  • At the heart of the challenge

  • is to reconstitute our sense of ability

  • and of intelligence.

  • This linearity thing is a problem.

  • When I arrived in L.A.

  • about nine years ago,

  • I came across a policy statement --

  • very well-intentioned --

  • which said, "College begins in kindergarten."

  • No, it doesn't.

  • (Laughter)

  • It doesn't.

  • If we had time, I could go into this, but we don't.

  • (Laughter)

  • Kindergarten begins in kindergarten.

  • (Laughter)

  • A friend of mine once said,

  • "You know, a three year-old is not half a six year-old."

  • (Laughter)

  • (Applause)

  • They're three.

  • But as we just heard in this last session,

  • there's such competition now to get into kindergarten --

  • to get to the right kindergarten --

  • that people are being interviewed for it at three.

  • Kids sitting in front of unimpressed panels,

  • you know, with their resumes,

  • (Laughter)

  • flipping through and saying, "Well, this is it?"

  • (Laughter)

  • (Applause)

  • "You've been around for 36 months, and this is it?"