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Inspiring Kids Tell TED Their Awesome Ideas About the Future of Learning

It's wonderful to dream big about the future of education—and no one does that better than children.

Apologies to all the astrologers, clairvoyants, and Nate Silvers out there—none of us knows what the future actually holds. Ask someone in 1913 if they could've predicted Madonna or the internet and you'll get an idea how clueless we are about what life in 2083 or 2093 will be like.

But fresh off awarding Sugata Mitra the 2013 TED Prize for his "Hole in the Wall" learning project, the TED blog invited four inspiring tweens and teens—15-year-old child prodigy and writer Adora Svitak; 10-year-old SoulPancake sensation, Kid President; 16-year-old teen advisor to Girl Up and to the United Nations, Ying Ying Shang; and Thomas Suarez, the 13-year-old California-based technophile and iPhone app developer—to answer one question: "What do you think is the future of learning?" Their answers prove that when it comes to dreaming about the future of learning, no one does that better than children.

Svitak, like many of her peers, is clamoring for students to be able to drive their learning. She believes the future holds a "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." Suarez believes every kid will be taught programming and Shang believes media literacy will become part of the curriculum and, like other education technologists, thinks "educators will turn to online learning tools, replacing blackboards with smartboards and note packets with YouTube videos."

While those are all great possibilities, given that learning is ultimately about relationships, Kid President's response really resonates. He says:

"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."


Those "cool things" Kid President's talking about might be us actually solving the problems of a global society. We'd certainly need plenty of empathy and creativity for such a feat. But just think, if we can make it happen, the kids (and the future) might be alright.

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