Live blog, TEDxColumbus

David Burns – Live Blog

2011 TEDxColumbus

Every parent worries about their children.

David Burns might have more reason to worry than most: he spends his days realizing that America’s education system isn’t built with every kid in mind, and he spends his nights wondering how his kids will fit into it.

The main responsibility of dads, according to Burns, is to inspire their kids to get the best education they can. The understood goal is for kids to surpass their parents, for each generation to be better off. But that’s not so easy when the system doesn’t help your particular kids towards that goal.

For instance, if Burns wants his kids to achieve greater educational goals than himself (getting one PhD apiece), he will have to spend over $875,000. To Burns, this just doesn’t reflect our societal goal of better and better education.

That, according to Burns, is the heartache of education: the system isn’t designed for every kid, and sometimes a parent realizes that the system isn’t serving HIS kids.

To improve on this dismal situation, Burns argues, we need to refocus our educational goals on what actually serves kids, not just on what we THINK serves kids. Education should improve kids’ chances of success, not just drain their bank accounts and leave them saddled with loans. Schools should figure out the real strengths of every student, not just hope their cookie-cutter approach will work. In short, kid-focused education systems should be sustainable.

Like some of the other stories we’ve heard today here at TEDxColumbus, Burns is a man who is personally experiencing a global crisis. The education crisis is worldwide, but Burns reminds us that every global crisis is made up of individuals, in this case his own children.

That’s Burns’s fundamental question: if the goal of education is to make life better for kids going forward, then why would we design education systems based on what adults want? Let’s hope educators worldwide start asking themselves this same question; then we might get some answers.