[ExI] ideas for ted

Adrian Tymes atymes at gmail.com
Wed Jan 16 22:02:48 UTC 2019

So, first question: how does one score such an invite?  :P

Related question: how do you know that satellite controls aren't why
they invited you?  (I mean, yeah, likely guess they're more interested
in education, but let's make sure of your audience.)

You might do well to include a brief overview of how we got to our
current state -
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Prussian_education_system and so on.
The modern scholastic system seems to be a result of the Industrial
Revolution.  Most critically, note the things it was intended to solve
that are still necessary today:
* Yes, literally everyone needs to know how to communicate well.  In
English-speaking regions such as the US, this means classes in
* Yes, literally everyone needs to know basic arithmetic.  (Maybe or
maybe not higher math, but certainly at least through fractions and
percentages, so as to theoretically be able to calculate how much tax
they owe - even if many turn that over to accountants, automated or
otherwise, they still need to be able to verify e.g. sales taxes on
their dinner bills.)
* Yes, literally everyone needs basic literacy.  These days, everyone
needs basic computer skills as well, but that doesn't mean they don't
need to read and write (just the opposite).
* Yes, literally everyone needs to know the basics of science: what is
a "theory", what is a "hypothesis", and how to conduct experiments to
find out stuff about the world.  (Just look at the depressed economy
and constant low-level humanitarian crises in areas of the US where
this knowledge is seen as contradictory to the dominant religion and
therefore suppressed.)
* Yes, literally everyone needs to know basic civics: what is
"voting", what fair government looks like, how to be fair should one
find oneself in a position of power, and so on.  (Look at areas of the
world - such as Iraq - where this knowledge is generally missing from
the population.  We may be critical of our government, but their
leaders literally have no idea of how to run a non-tribal government,
resulting in blatant corruption and miscarriages of justice.  Over
here, since anyone can - in theory - run for elected office, everyone
else needs to be sure that anyone who does run probably knows at least
the basics of what good government even is.)

And so on.  Even with some diversity allowed, there are common basics
that everyone must be taught, and that must be covered by every
alternative that some child might be exposed to.

After that, then go on to explore where education might go.  I
mentioned recently a possibility of more and more fundamental mental
models, aided by technology to look up details as needed, that let
those who learn them handle an ever-broader range of topics from the
same educational effort (the same average number of years spent in

If you want to talk diversity in education, you might consider
touching on adapting https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mass_customization
to education.  Note especially the central concept: using technology
(not just human instinct, which tends to fail when it is the sole
instrument used for this, even when the teachers involved are unaware
they are doing it) to discover the individual needs and strengths, and
then adapt or invent a curriculum that gets all the requested topics
to the student in ways that particular student can master quickly.
(You might put in a slide on detecting when this is happening vs. when
people are just using their own guesswork, so as to shut down
possibly-well-intentioned but short-changing efforts that are doomed
to fail before they can take many students with them.  If you do,
another slide on the difference between "untested guesswork" and
"rigorously tested technology" might be useful too.)

On Tue, Jan 15, 2019 at 8:54 AM <spike at rainier66.com> wrote:
> Exi friends,
> I have been invited to give Ted talk, and I might take them up on it.  I have hung with you for well over 20 years and always read the chatter even if I don’t participate as much as I once did.  My ideas and attitudes have been greatly influenced by ExI.  Naturally my Ted would be greatly influenced by that association.
> I will not speak on my real area of expertise (satellite controls) because that wouldn’t be of general interest to the people who invited me.  They want to hear about a more recent interest of mine: education.
> So… I might give a talk on the future of education.
> Please, your perspectives, ideas, suggestions for focus, anything you want to offer.  I have time: the outline wouldn’t need to be ready for several weeks and the pitch itself would happen in May.  I am thinking of a techno-optimist view of the near term easily-foreseeable future.  My notion is to talk about our local public school’s embracing highly diversified curriculum: what if we do and what if we do not?
> Help me Exi-wan Kenobi!
> spike
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