Christian Long

Adora Svitak: What Adults Can Learn from Kids

In TED Talks on April 21, 2010 at 10:01 pm

Extra credit reflection by DARCY S.

Original TED page w/ speaker bio, links, comments, etc:

Adora Svitak:  What Adults Can Learn from Kids

It would be easy to imagine a world run by children.

The cheerful pippi longstocking-types wanting free will, happiness and fun, the pre-mega death bug-squishing BMX enthusiasts wanting total rule over the defenseless others. Free ice-cream for three days but no one willing to make more ice cream, children jumping off roofs onto their trampolines into their pools, then missing the pool completely…

In short, it’s an irrational world that many sold out idea-less Hollywood film makers have adapted over the century. Unfortunately there are immature adults not ready to handle the rational world making appearances in the rational world from time to time, but after society realizes these monkeys are deceiving them, society usually ousts them. So, if society rejects humans considered as children and with some delay of time rejects humans considered as adults who are in truth foolish, we have to adapt to fit the perfect medium.

Obviously that means the perfect medium consists of adults who are limitless in their imagination and don’t categorize opportunity by possibility. This sounds exactly like what the world calls for: people who think outside the box. But what if everyone initially thought outside of the box? The box would then be abolished, and any dream could be seized and translated into reality, any idea could be conquered. It doesn’t sound too illogical.

In order to destroy “the box” of thinking, all that has to be done is to nurture a generation in a way that doesn’t prepare them for the box. In Sir Ken Robinson’s TED talk, “Schools Kill Creativity,” he talks about how through grade school, children are plopped on a conveyer belt that regulates their ways of thinking and envisioning, and unless the lucky wand of opportunity is waved they rarely end up serving the world to their full capacity. Upon this conveyer belt, many children are informed of how the real world works, and how their ideas of riding a shooting star to school are ridiculous. The conveyer belt process is just the construction zone of the “rational” limits they will come face to face with in their adult life.

It is clear from the beginning of the TED talk that no such box exists for Adora.

For me personally, this is proven by her extraordinary vocabulary, confidence slash stage presence and impressive biography. No 12 year old that I know aspires to winning the Nobel Literature Prize. Is it false to say that Adora and other ambitious children like her wouldn’t have accumulated such thirst for knowledge and passion for academic interests if it were not for their guardians who open up all doors of possibility? No, I don’t believe it to be false. So that’s what must be done then: open up all present gateways of opportunity.

In this video it is clearly demonstrated what can be done provided that a child with a passion is given the instruments necessary to nurture that passion and let it grow into a lifelong dream or desire. If children don’t receive the tools necessary to enhance their passion, it could slowly die, like a flower would. But once the flower of passion is fully bloomed and stable, children can explore everything that grows in the garden. An eight-year-old Bach buff can dream about a melody that would take music to a whole new level of listening, just like a child whose dreamt about walking on clouds can take physics in high school and in thirty years make cloud real estate the new thing to buy stock in.

This is path is possible! If it happens today with Adora, it can happen with every child.

I’d like to end on Adora’s quote at the end of the TED talk, “You must lend an ear today, because we are the leaders of tomorrow.”

The substance of this quote is all too real; there are millions of children in the world who are gifted with capable minds but are put through schooling which sticks their heads in cold, wet sacks and shoves them out into the working world. These adolescents are armed with not much besides facts only useful in a jeopardy showdown and aren’t capable of using their cognitive brain to their full potential. If the imagination only ventures outside the box when forcefully shoved, how can one ever expect a break through to be made?

With a little encouragement and resource, children can grow into unlimited thinking and imaginative adults. If you think it’s an impossible transition to be made, look at it with the mind of a child.


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