Annie Kidder, a former theater director and the current Executive Director and founder of People for Education, delivered a talk on public education for a TEDx event that took place in Kitchener, Ontario.
She starts by revealing her desire to talk about hope, something she says that can be a little hard to have in today's world. Although it's easy to become cynical in a space where it seems like the problems are endless, Kidder states that it's vital to "unbury our heads and face what we're afraid of" in order to make change happen. She emphasizes that her idea for this isn't anything new, but that it's something that needs to be tweaked to really work. What she's speaking of is public education, and its ability to provide "the place where hope exists." By this, Kidder means that public education is the first step in providing people with the tools that they need to progress and make a difference in the world.
Kidder continues by telling the story of two boys in the fourth grade, who are given the responsibly of investigating problems within the playground. During this project, the boys discover that more children are getting sent to the office at lunch or in the afternoon than in the morning, which they believe is due to a lack of supervision during these times. Upon reporting this, they learned that all teachers had a schedule that was already filled, which prompted the boys to propose changes to it in order to solve their problem. With this example, Kidder shows the importance of giving children the space to develop their skills, and the agency to make an impact.
By considering the impact that public education can have, Kidder shows the need to foster this space, where all children have the opportunity to learn the vital skills they need, which she says is the foundation for all learning. With this, Kidder highlights the need for society to expand its understanding of what these institutions can and should offer, as well as the merits that are used to determine success.
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