November 8, 2009

TED India - day 3, session 8: learning to learn

muppets googly and chamki (photo below) from galli galli sim sim, india's version of sesame street, took the stage for a short skit to introduce sashwati banjeree, director of sesame workshop in india.  she talked about the importance of reaching the indian public with their educational messages (for example, the main character, chamki, wears a school uniform which sets a good example for the 128M preschool children in india).  favorite quote:  "if we can't reach them, we can't teach them."


well-known strategist c.k. prahalad spoke next about looking at the bottom of the pyramid to democratize learning (see slide below).  i particularly liked his slide on common pathologies in organizations (e.g., mistaking profits and size for leadership).  he bagged on hierarchical structures that protect the past and preserve the status quo, and he traced the evolution of corporate social responsibility (CSR) from guilt-driven 10 years ago to innovation-driven today.  favorite quote:  "any discussion of learning must include some forgetting."


ravilla thulasiraj of the aravind eye care system spoke to us about his organization's efforts to end blindness in india (VIDEO).  his organization's low-cost, accessible programs have 40% EBITDA and complication rates half that of the UK.  they are conducting 1,000 surgeries and seeing 6,000 patients a day.

kiran sethi talked about how contagious empowerment can be, and she related a story of how a group of children were "infected" with the "i can" bug, and they helped to bring about change to one city in india.  in that city, they now have biannual children's day, in which city streets are shut down to make room for children to play.

matthew spacie talked for six minutes about rugby and how he started a grandmother's league of soccer.

eve ensler, creator of the vagina monologues, spoke about the "girl self" -- that part within all of us that is compassionate, vulnerable, and emotional.  she was the only presenter all week to sit for her entire talk, but she was as powerful as ever (VIDEO).  she talked about society's historical suppression, oppression, reinterpretation, and undermining of the "girl self" and how by not allowing anyone to show their "girl" side, we're hurting society.  "bullets are hardened tears," she explained.  "when we don't let men have their girl selves, they become violent."  since 1 in 8 people on the planet are girls 10-24, it was a pertinent topic, and it really resonated with the audience (even the men!).  she closed with a poem inspired by a girl in south-central LA called "i am an emotional creature."  it was about how the feelings of a girl make us better, more present.  it was a moving interpretation of the beauty of those feelings when she said, "i love that i can feel the feelings inside you."  favorite quote:  "one kiss can take away my decision making ability."


16-year-old headmaster babar ali closed the session to talk (through an interpreter) about his experience running a school for 800 children.  as a child himself, he "played school" with younger children, teaching them what he'd learned the school he attended.  now, he runs an actual school to cater to children who cannot afford the uniforms and travel to attend school in india.

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