Faculty member's TED Talk discusses how education positively affects the world

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — David Baker, a professor in the College’s Education Policy Studies department, presented at a TEDx Fulbright event in Washington, D.C., in April. His talk, titled “New Minds, Gods and Political Upheavals: Imagining a New World from the Education Revolution,” discussed how education has improved both people and society.

“We love to talk about education all the time,” said Baker, “but we love to talk about it in relatively negative ways. I call these negative myths.”

Baker refers to a famous TED Talk that shared that education kills creativity and is letting the world down. Baker argues nothing is further from the truth.

“People who did not have access to schools and universities, now do,” said Baker, who added that this is a major shift in the past 100 years.

But according to Baker, it is about more than knowledge. He said teaching actually changes neurological structures and cognitive skills in ways people never knew before.

“Even small amounts of education helped people to think in very different ways,” said Baker, citing his research that showed how education helped people to think more abstractly and use their cognitive skills to solve new problems.

Baker’s research also took him to Ghana where he and his team asked, “What are the effects of all of this cognitive enhancement?” They focused on the HIV epidemic in Africa. Often, Baker and his team discovered that people did not have the necessary education skills to understand the disease.

“Education, basic education, has saved millions of lives all around the world,” said Baker. “Education is the major social vaccine against all kinds of diseases.”

He said that not only does education provide cognitive skills, but it empowers them to think.

“One of the biggest things it does is change world politics,” said Baker who added that educated people are leading the way to change. “They have the skills, but more importantly, they have the willingness to dare to think about what a nation would look like if it were changed.”

Finally, Baker discussed the idea that education changes the world due to the improvements in the skills of the people.

“We need to start to understand what education actually does, how it has changed the world,” said Baker, who added that he believes education has been very positive for the most part.

“All of the kinds of TED Talks you can imagine, all the subjects, all the audience, is predicated on an educated world,” said Baker, “and that is where we have to start.”


Last Updated January 09, 2015