Wednesday, December 7, 2011

What if the world were run by nine year old kids?

TED 2011 was held this year in Long Beach, California from February 28 through March 4. If you’re not familiar with TED, the acronym stands for Technology Entertainment and Design. TED is a global set of conferences owned by the non-profit Sapling Foundation, which was formed to disseminate “ideas worth spreading”.

The first TED occurred in 1984, and was held in Monterey. Some of the earlier conferences were by invitation only, but they are now open to a larger audience, as long as the attendees are willing to part with $6000 to be in the audience. Starting in 2006, the conferences have been offered for free viewing online. As of June 2011, the viewing audience was approximately 500 million people around the globe.

One of the speakers at the 2011 conference was a teacher from Virginia named John Hunter, who talked about “The World Peace Game”. His talk lasted exactly 20 minutes and 28 seconds, but is definitely worth watching in its entirely (which I’d recommend). Before you start, though, make sure that you have a box of Kleenex handy.

here’s Johnny ..

Details on the World Peace Game Foundation can be found at the link below:

it sure beats watching Beavis and Butthead.

Strange as it may seem, the world would actually be a better run place if the nine year olds were in charge AS LONG AS THEY HAD THE PROPER GUIDANCE. The students in the World Peace Game video were unencumbered by the influences of lobbyists and special interest groups, both of which can hamper the efforts of even the most conscientious legislators.

Without the proper guidance, though, the nine year olds of the world potentially could follow the path of two young pigs named Snowball and Napoleon, who became leaders in the fictional world of George Orwell’s Animal Farm.

At a time in our country when the educational system itself is under attack (one Republican candidate actually proposed eliminating the Department of Education) it’s beneficial to consider how valuable education is to our country.

For starters, the G.I. Bill for returning WWII vets was the main impetus for the growing prosperity in this country during the eight years of the Eisenhower administration, but there are plenty of more recent examples.

In “The Lexus and the Olive Tree”, Thomas Friedman states that he has found that there are TWO main factors that lead to a high standard of living in the countries of the world:

1) the degree to which the countries are “wired” (how much broadband capacity, or megabits per capita, that the country has)

2) the countries that have the highest percentage of high school graduates, and spend the highest amount of their GDP on teacher’s salaries, will be the ones that have the highest standard of living.

During difficult economic times, it may be tempting to reduce spending on education, but that would be a foolish thing to do. Investment in eduction will ALWAYS be less expensive than the alternative. 51% of the inmates in the Illinois state prison system are high school dropouts.Since the cost of housing an inmate in Illinois is $22,000 per year, and the state has 46,000 people in prison, the prison population is costing the state slightly in excess of $1 BILLION a year!

Regardless of which source that you use (the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank, or the CIA World Factbook), there is a high degree of consistency between the lists that show GDP per capita. All of the countries that are at, or near, the top emphasize education to a very high degree. Even the countries that wound up high up on the list due to income from oil production (Qatar and Norway) have diversified economies, and they spend a LOT of money on education.

Qatar, in particular, has made a concerted effort to expose its younger generation to “outside ideas”. As of today, there are ten universities from North America that have branches in Qatar, including Northwestern University of Evanston, Illinois, and they are there because they were invited in by the government of Qatar.

What if YOU were nine years old again. What would you think of the world today? Chances are, your thoughts would be similar to the kids below, who live in Orange County, California.:

California dreamin’

If you think that you’re a pretty good public speaker, the clip below (of a nine year old boy in Little rock, Arkansas) may put a new perspective on your speech making ability:

rubber baby buggy bumpers

Starting in 1998, Bill Cosby (inspired by Art Linkletter’s House Party) hosted a comedy series titled, “Kids Say the Darndest Things”

As long as kids remain kids, that phrase is always going to be true. However, if there enough teachers like John Hunter around to guide our nine year olds, the future of the world is in pretty good hands.

1 comment:

  1. The nine year old boy in Arkansas, summarizing the Bible in eight minutes was most impressive. One of the great influences in our Baha'i life, Mrs Gale Woolson, died in Evanston in September this year. In the mid-1980's she taught the four of us how to memorize scripture as we drove to Baha'i children's classes in Minneapolis. Later, in the Chicago area, she organized a program and taught children to present inspiring topics to an audience, much as you see in this video. I learned to do this much later as a Keeper at Split Rock Lighthouse Historic Site.