Cockroach legs and the future of education

I'm really passionate about education, particularly when it comes to helping people learn how to become makers and creators.  That's why I'm currently spending a fair bit of my time outside of IDEO teaching and advising at the Stanford, Harvard Business School (as an Entrepreneur in Residence), and at the MIT Media Lab. 

It's a cliche, but when you hang around smart, motivated makers, you learn as much as you teach.  It's particularly gratifying to help someone discover that they're indeed passionate about the art and science of bringing cool stuff to life, and then to help them figure out how to build an existence around doing it.  In the process, I believe, they become better entrepreneurs, builders, creators — people who get stuff done and help build a better society for all of us.  I just wish this stuff could happen earlier in people's lives, that more kids and young adults had access not just to the training they need, but to a world view where they hear "You can do it!" much more often than "No you can't." or "Who do you think you are?".

I was blessed to grow up in a household where this stuff was in the air.  I took it for granted that people built stuff and that engineering, creativity, art, and the sciences were things worth investing your life in.  After last year's TED I singled out Salman Khan's talk on education as one that knocked my hat in the creek.  At this year's TED I saw a live demonstration which made me think about the awesome creative experiences I had as a kid which set me up to do the things I enjoy doing today.  As it so happens, there's a brilliant video of that same demo I participated in at TED, and you can see it right here — it's the first release done as part of TED's new education initiative called TED-Ed:

Is that cool, or what? From thinking of the brain as a lump of fat, to seeing cockroaches chilling out, to cleverly utilizing the cockroach leg to literally see how a neuron fires, it's science made tangible. And I'd wager it's a lot stickier than anything you saw in high school.

Here's the TED-Ed manifesto:

TED-Ed's mission is to capture and amplify the voices of great educators around the world. We do this by pairing extraordinary educators with talented animators to produce a new library of curiosity-igniting videos. A new site, which will launch in early April 2012, will feature these new TED-Ed Originals as well as some powerful new learning tools.

It's going to be really cool!  Hopefully this initiative will help lots of kids (and maybe some adults, too!) see how they might learn to creatively express themselves across many realms of human knowledge.  Excellent!