How School Makes Kids Less Intelligent | Eddy Zhong | TEDxYouth@BeaconStreet

How School Makes Kids Less Intelligent | Eddy Zhong | [email protected]

November 17, 2019 100 By Stanley Isaacs

Translator: Yulia Kallistratova
Reviewer: Denise RQ I want to share with you
a big secret today. And it’s not one that a lot of you
are going to want to hear. But at the same, time it’s so important
that I have to tell you. That secret is this: what if I told you that every singe day kids go to school
they become less intelligent? Now, how could that be possible? When kids go to school
they learn things, right? And they accumulate more knowledge. So if anything,
they should be getting smarter. How could they possibly
be getting less intelligent? What am I talking about? Well, I do hope
to illustrate that to you today. Before I turned 14, I was a kid
that did not know what he wanted in life. So usually, when you go up
to a 5 or 6 year old and you ask him, “What do you want to be
when you grow up?”, he’ll say, ” An astronaut,”
or “A businessman”. I wanted to be a professional
Call of Duty player. (Laughter) And since I had no idea about
what I wanted to be when I grew up, I just listened to my parents
almost 100% of the time. I trusted that they knew
what was best for me. My parents wanted out of me what any typical parent
would want out of his child: go to school, keep up your grades, get out and exercise,
once every few years. (Laughter) And I was trying to do
everything they asked of me, except the problem was
I wasn’t even that good at school. I was terrible at science, could not write a 5-paragraph essay
if my life had depended on it. And to this day I still think I’m the only Asian kid in the world
who does not understand math. (Laughter) I really do. But when I turned 14 that all changed. I was no longer this hot air balloon
and floating around in space, I was now like a supersonic jet
flying toward my destination at 50,000 miles an hour
or however fast those things go. This change all started
when I received an envelope with the mail. It was an invitation
– not to a birthday party, I did not get any of those –
not to a playground, but to a business plan
competition down in Boston. And I was curious, I was
just so curious that I had to go. The program director explained to us
that over five months, we would form a team,
develop a business idea, and present this idea
to a panel of judges, who would be judging us how good our suits are,
and how good our business ideas were. And a long story short,
over those five months I formed a team, developed an idea, and we actually ended up winning that competition
and taking home a check. And that one event sparked my interest for going to more and more
of these competitions. Over the next two years of my life, I actually went to dozens and dozens
of these competitions, and I was winning almost all of them. And I realized that I liked
going to them so much not just because I liked winning them but also because I had
an unrealized passion. That was a passion for creating things. Because the one thing
that my team would do differently from our other competitors,
every single time, was well, everyone would go up and present
their idea and their PowerPoint, we would go to a home depot, buy supplies, and actually build
the idea we were talking about. And the judges were just so blown away by the fact that a bunch of teenagers
could go and create things, can make prototypes,
and [have] minimum viable products. We won almost every single competition just because the judges loved
that we had gone and executed it. At one of these competitions I met a short-tempered,
middle-aged Polish guy named Frank. If he is here today
I’d better run after this. (Laughter) He came up to us, took a look
at our prototype, and said: “I can help you guys
turn this into a real company.” Think about that. Isn’t that cool? We are 16 years olds,
we are going out into the world and creating a real
hardware technology startup. At first we were all like,
“Time to be Steve Jobs, let’s go build Apple,
dropping out of school now.” But we quickly realized
it’s not that easy. So, don’t drop out unless
you’re really sure you have a good idea. But… (Laughter) We’ve realized that the first part
to building a great company is to assemble a great team. And as students, we couldn’t go to bars to network,
to networking events for adults, so we went to our school and set up this little presentation
in our auditorium, in which we would present our idea
and hopefully kids would join our team. We sent out an invitation
to our entire school. And the first thing we noticed
is that almost no one showed up. There was almost no interest. And those who did show up
spread the rumor around the school and throughout that week,
we were actually marked, we were made fun of for our ideas
and for being wannabe Mark Zuckerbergs. (Laughter) What’s funny is, the next week after,
we took the exact same presentation, and did it at our elementary school
so to kids who were 5 or 6 years younger. And the response was phenomenal. These kids were throwing
their lunch money at us asking if they could buy a prototype. (Laughter) They were asking
for our pre-money valuation, which I know you guys know
from watching Shark Tank, but it was amazing that these kids
even knew terms like that existed when they were too young to even probably
pronounce some of these words. That just inspired me so much. And I think this is what
our education system has done. Over just these 5 to 6 years
in the education system, these creative children
have turned into these teenagers that are unwilling to think
outside of the box. So let’s go back to that secret
I was talking about. How is it possible that school
is making kids less intelligent? The fact is, there is so much more
than just one type of intelligence. While school can make you
more academically intelligent, it can teach you
physics, algebra, calculus, it is diminishing the children’s
creative intelligence. It is teaching them
to think in a certain way, to go down a certain path in life, it’s telling them: go
to high school, get a diploma, go to a good college, find a stable job, and if you don’t do that,
you won’t be successful. And if that was true,
how am I even standing here today? How did I, a straight C student, start a technology company
at the age of 16? And how is my company, which was featured
on a Wall Street Journal last week, doing better that some of the companies
started by Harvard and Stanford graduates? It must be something
that can’t be measured by academic intelligence alone. So, here is what I believe. Parents, teachers, educators, you have the power
to influence and inspire youth. The fact is, there are way too many
people out there right now who are obsessed with telling kids to go to college, to find a good job,
and to be “successful”. There are not enough who are telling kids to explore more possibilities,
to become entrepreneurs. And if there’s one message that I want
parents, kids, and all of you to take away from
what I’ve said here today is that you can open your own doors, that you can stray away
from this conventional, limited, and narrow path
that education sets us upon. You can diverge
and create your own future. You can start your own companies
and start your own non-profits. You can create, you can innovate. And if there’s one message
I want you to take away from everything I’ve said, it is this: no one has ever changed the world by doing what the world
has told them to do. Thank you. (Applause)