The Three Most Important Questions in Education

Educator and writer Sam Chaltain shares some revolutionary ideas about learning and freedom in his recent TedxSinCity talk.


Educator, writer, and organizational change consultant Sam Chaltain is on a mission. He wants to shift conversations about education away from divisive discussions about unions and back to what should be the actual point of school: learning. For the last several years, he asked everyone from big names like Arne Duncan to everyday people (like you) about their most powerful education experiences, which he then compiled into his recent book Faces of Learning. While the narratives show that effective education is challenging, engaging, supportive, relevant, and experiential, they also put the spotlight on what we should be asking to get us closer to that ideal.

In his recent TEDxSinCity talk titled "Freedom to Learn," Chaltain outlines the three questions that should be at the heart of every conversation about fixing our schools: 1) How do people learn best?; 2) What are the skills of a free people?; and 3) What in the end does it mean to be free?

Figuring out how people learn best makes sense, but his emphasis on freedom is something we don't often see in education conversations—yet it's smart on multiple levels. We need to have the freedom to experiment creatively to get kids learning, and in a democracy we need a population that's able to do more than just to bubble in the response on a Scantron form. Indeed, when so much of current schooling is so standardized (and becoming moreso) putting freedom into the education conversation is actually revolutionary.

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