In 2013, I did a TED Talk entitled “Speak Less. Expect More.”
Unfortunately, the audio engineer failed me that day, and the recording was poor. Although my voice is discernible in the video, the audio is of such low quality that the talk never received any real attention despite initial excitement by the organizers to the contrary.
I hope to repeat the talk someday at another conference so I can get the version that people can actually listen to.
“Speak less. Expect more.” is a hard lesson for educators to learn. So many believe that teaching is about talking. Lectures. Stories. Delivering content and imparting wisdom to eager young minds.
We call these teachers “sages on the stage,” and even though they work incredibly hard and are no less dedicated to their students, they would be far more effective if they simply stopped talking and allowed their students to do more.
If you were to ask my students what my ultimately goal is as an educator, they would tell you that it’s to do nothing. My dream is to sit at my desk, reading a book, answering the occasional question, while the students run the classroom and guide their own learning.
It’s unrealistic, of course. Pie in the sky. Nevertheless, I’m working on it, and you would be shocked at the level of responsibility that students have in my classroom.
What I’ve discovered is that children are far more capable than we ever realize, and that letting go of as much responsibility and placing it squarely on the students’ shoulders is good for everyone, but especially the kids.
I mention all of this because I read a quote by Stephen Fry recently that summarizes my belief and my TED Talk so well:
"Education is the sum of what students teach each other between lectures and seminars."
If I were king, I would have this quote placed above the door of every classroom – elementary through college – in America.