TEDxWanChai on “Democratizing Education”

TedXWanChaiTEDxWanchai just launched its first-ever Salon entitled “Leveling the Playing Field: Democratizing Education” which was held at the Hive on September 10, 2014.  The goal of this program is to keep intellectual and thought-provoking conversations going with thought-leaders and entrepreneurs throughout the year.

Featured Panelist/Ted Talks

  • Professor Gordon Matthews – Chair of the Anthropology Department, Chinese University of Hong Kong; author of Global Culture/Individual Identity: Searching for Home in the Cultural Supermarket
  • Daphne Koller – Co-Founder of Coursera.org; TED Talk: “What We are Learning from Online Education
  • Bunker Roy – Founder of the Barefoot College; TED Talk: “Learning from a Barefoot Movement” 

During their inaugural two-hour event, participants watched and then debated the TED talks above which were moderated by Professor Gordon Matthews.

TedXWanChai SalonWhat does it mean to “democratize education?” Is education one of the means democracy is using to expand? Do we actually need “more education”? Or do we simply need to change the way we relate to education? The session also touched upon the recent OECD report that showcases poor literacy rates in Western countries, despite growth in University education.

Bunker Roy suggested that it’s all about “demystifying and decentralizing technical knowledge”. Since 1989, the Barefoot College trained 740 illiterate women to become solar engineers. Back to their home countries, they provided solar lighting to 450,000 villagers in 64 countries. Although this model didn’t sound sustainable to some, nobody argued this well-managed project whose vision is to learn by doing (no textbooks required!).

This talk was reminiscent of Ted talk given by the 13 year-old Logan LaPlante who spoke about Hackschooling. In his presentation he said “Much of our education is oriented for better or worse towards making a living, rather than making a life.” Could education simply be about democratizing life values?

By Audrey Reisdorffer

About TEDxWanChai Salons

TEDx Salons are intimate and unique gatherings that TEDx organizers hold to continue the conversation on specific topics. TEDxWanChai plans to organize several Salons over the coming year on a wide range of topics that will feature selected TED talks, host speakers and facilitate discussions. 

TEDxWanChai’s next events will be a live simulcast of TED Global on October 8th and a live simulcast of TED Youth on November 15th. For more details on TEDxWanChai and information about upcoming events and to register, please visit the TEDxWanChai official website: www.tedxwanchai.com.

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