“This September, TEDx was being introduced at a local middle school. The technology integrationist explained that the students’ topic was to be of their choice. The faces in the audience were contemplative and everyone appeared a tad thrown off. One girl raised her hand and confirmed, ‘Anything?’ she asked. ‘Anything. It’s your talk. You get to choose,’ the teacher replied. The students could not believe that there was no teacher assigning them a topic, nobody to tell them exactly how their presentation should go, and nobody evaluating their work after the presentation.”

“After the TEDx introduction, the teacher asked if there were any questions. For a solid 15 minutes, hands shot up from students in awe of what they had just heard. A solid 25 percent of the questions asked were students looking for some sort of affirmation that they were completely free to learn about something solely because they found it interesting. Clearly, and unfortunately, learning for the sake of learning is an anomaly in this society. Students spend their entire day in school, but the way our schools run now does not allow students the intellectual freedom to pursue their interests. As I think you’ll see, there is a direct correlation between our old-fashioned system and the scarcity of a love for learning.”

Noa Gutow-Ellis, high school sophomore, at TEDxYouth@ISASEmeryWeiner

What would schools look like if we were organized around the idea of students as empowered, passionate, interested, self-directed learners?

Hat tip: Ben Stern, True Learning is Not Standardized: TED Talk

See also: Blah blah blah life long learning blah blah blah