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Kids answer "What do you think is the future of learning?"

Flickr: Lucelia Ribeiro

What do you think is the future of learning?

I’m sure if you asked 10 different people you’d get 10 different responses. That’s the beauty of a question like this; there are no right or wrong answers, just plenty of possibilities and hope for education.

If you asked our friends Bill and Melinda Gates, they might say the future is in online learning. In the Gates Annual Letter they wrote:

“As high-speed cell networks grow and smartphones become as cheap as today's voice-only phones, online education will flourish. For people in rich countries, it will be an important step forward. For the rest of the world, especially in places where growth is creating demand for educated workers, it will be a revolution.”

Photo: Gates Annual Letter

Although we can continue our education into adulthood, the vast majority of those receiving an education are the youth. The World Health Organization says there are 2.3 billion people under the age of 19, and that’s just too large of a population to ignore! So what I want to know is what do those doing most of the learning envision for the future?

To get to the youths’ perspective, TED (the platform that gives us all those wonderful TED Talks) recently asked several brilliant young people what they think is the future of learning. Here’s what they had to say:

Adora Svitak, a prolific storyteller and blogger since age 7, she now speaks out across the United States to children and adults to advocate for education.

“One of the most powerful shifts in the future of education will come from not only the tools at our disposal, but from an underutilized resource: the students whose voices have for too long been silent. We’re pushing for seats at the decision-making tables, empowering ourselves by shaping our own learning, and taking on activist roles both online and off. To me, this signals one of the most hopeful signs of the future of education — the shift from a top-down, learning-everything-from-the-authority-figure approach to an approach characterized by peer-to-peer learning, empowerment and grassroots change.”

Youtube: TED

In her impressive and funny TED Talk, Adora talks about why kids opinions matter and why “students should teach their teachers.” Check out what she has to say near 6:42.

Kid President, the most adorable uplifting speaker you’ve ever seen!

“My older brother and I believe kids and grown ups can change the world. We’re on a mission with our web series, Kid President, to do just that. If every classroom in the world could be full of grownups and kids working together, we’d live in a happier world. Kids want to know about the world and about how they can make an impact. Kids also have ideas. It’d be awesome if teachers and students could work together and put these ideas into action. There should be lessons in things like compassion and creativity. If those two things were taught more in schools we’d see some really cool things happen.”

Youtube: SoulPancake

Known for his Pep Talks, Kid President dispenses wisdom we can all learn from like “this is life people, you’ve got air coming through your nose. You’ve got a heart beat! That means it’s time to do somethin’!” And I couldn’t agree more!

Thomas Suarez, 13-year-old app developer and coding genius.

“The future of education should include programming as a major subject. The class will allow students to collaborate on code, teach each other, and communicate outside of the classroom using services such as Google . This way, students will think more during other classes, be much more likely to get a job and, most important, have fun.”

Youtube: TED

Seriously, at 13 I didn’t even own a cell phone, let alone know how to develop an app! But if his 5 minute TED Talk doesn’t inspire you to create something yourself I’d be surprised.

And I think we also have to mention:

Malala Yousafzai, education and youth champion, the brave girl who stood up to the Taliban, and the youngest Nobel Laureate.

Malala recently received the Nobel Peace Prize for the work she has done advocating on the rights of childrens’ and girls’ education. Her vision for the future includes access to education for all children, and in her recent speech she calls on Global Leaders to make this a priority.

“In year 2015, representatives from all around the world will meet in the United Nations to set the next set of goals, the Sustainable Development Goals. This will set the world’s ambition for the next generations.

The world can no longer accept, the world can no longer accept that basic education is enough. Why do leaders accept that for children in developing countries, only basic literacy is sufficient, when their own children do homework in Algebra, Mathematics, Science and Physics?

Leaders must seize this opportunity to guarantee a free, quality, primary and secondary education for every child.

Some will say this is impractical, or too expensive, or too hard. Or maybe even impossible. But it is time the world thinks bigger.”

Youtube: Malala Fund

So what do YOU think is the future of learning?

Do you think it’s a technology? A new approach? Do you think the youth should have a bigger say? No matter what the future of learning looks like though, we need to make sure everyone has access to a quality education. Right now 58 million children still do not have access to education, and that number is simply too large. So let’s stand with the youth and take action by tweeting at the US Administration and tell them that this year is critical to ensuring that every kid, everywhere has the chance to go to school.

After all “I believe the children are our future, Teach them well and let them lead the way” (you’re welcome).


Chelsea White