By Audrey Watters
"I always feel like it’s hard to get a word in edgewise in TED Talks. Indeed, they’re designed that way: well-scripted and highly-polished presentations — 15 to 20 minutes on “ideas worth spreading.” The audience is supposed to bask in the ideas — get carried away in the prose and in the delight of human curiosity and the superstar delivery and “why hadn’t I thunk of that” problem-solving.
"You are not supposed to interrogate a TED Talk. You’re supposed to share the talk on Facebook.
"But I have questions.
"I have questions about this history of schooling as Mitra (and others) tell it, about colonialism and neo-colonialism. I have questions about the funding of the initial “Hole in the Wall” project (it came from NIIT, an India-based “enterprise learning solution” company that offers 2- and 4-year IT diplomas). I have questions about these commercial interests in “child-driven education” (As Ellen Seitler asks, “can the customer base be expanded to reach people without a computer, without literacy, and without any formal teaching whatsoever?”).
"I have questions about the research from the “Hole in the Wall” project — the research, not the 15 minute TED spiel about it. I have questions about girls’ lack of participation in the kiosks. I have questions about project’s usage of retired British schoolteachers — “grannies” — to interact with Indian children via Skype.
"I have questions about community support. I have questions about what happens when we dismantle public institutions like schools — questions about social justice, questions about community, questions about care. I have questions about the promise of a liberation via a “child-driven education,” questions about this particular brand of neo-liberalism, techno-humanitarianism, and techno-individualism.
"You don’t get to ask questions of a TED Talk. Even the $10,000 ticket to watch it live only gives you the privilege of a seat in the theater."