Greatra Mayana

Career & Employment Opportunities

L’éducation positive: Claire Blondel at TEDxLyon

Translator: Jim Taylor
Reviewer: Denise RQ I’m very happy to be here
because I’ve known TED for several years. TED has always been
a great source of inspiration for me. I first came across TED
watching a video of Ken Robinson. So to talk today, just after Ken Robinson,
is a real honor for me. So Ken Robinson was just saying,
during his talk, that for him, creativity means
having new ideas that bring added value. Michel Coster who is the Head
of entrepreneurship at EM Lyon has described entrepreneurship
as creating richness from imagination. So upon reflection, we can see
entrepreneurship is a form of creativity. Could you raise your hand
if you have ever created a business, or if you’re in the process
of creating one? Oh! Wow, impressive! But you are not exactly representative
of the proportion of people who have set up a business
on a national scale, that is, in France. In France, the proportion of adults
who are in the process of setting up or who have already set up
their own business is 6%. It’s not a lot. This figure of 6% makes us
56th out of the 59 countries in the study. Very low. So why are we so bad at entrepreneurship? Well, Grenoble School of Management
which conducted this research tried to figure out
what was holding each country back, and the strengths
and weaknesses of each one. And for France, they found
something very distinctive, something very characteristic of France. And this is an enormous fear of failure. So where does this fear
of failure come from? Well, it comes for the most part
from our education. Because in our education, there’s something,
there’s a particular lesson, a rule that we have been taught,
that has been drummed into us so much, that it has become deep-rooted
deep down inside us. And this rule is
that mistakes are not allowed. Of course, mistakes aren’t allowed
because if you make a mistake, it must be that either
you haven’t understood the topic or that you have understood it,
but you weren’t concentrating hard enough. Either explanation is completely
unacceptable, we all agree on this. Well, actually,
I don’t entirely agree with that. What I would like to suggest is that I first explain to you
I came upon this little discovery, of this characteristic
of our French education, and secondly, I would like to explain
the four consequences of this rule. And you will very quickly see
why this rule is actually very harmful. As Thomas was saying a minute ago, I had the opportunity to live in Asia
for eight years with my family, that is, my husband and my two daughters. My daughters were very young when we left, so they started their school careers
in Asia, in international schools. There they are, above, in Shanghai
in their uniform for the British School. Next in the uniform
they wore for school in Hong Kong, And then on the right, with no uniform,
at their school in Tokyo. In Asia, my daughters were always
very enthusiastic about school, about the learning process, and teaching. For them, learning was always
something to be enjoyed. In fact, you can see them here
working at home for the second night in a row,
on a project about Cambodia that they had decided to make,
to share with their classmates. Then, in 2010, we were asked to
come back to France. In September 2010, for the first time,
my daughters went to a French school. From that moment on, little by little, their enthusiasm for school
began to dwindle. They started to complain, they started
to be less keen to go to school, they were even afraid to go to school, and they even started thinking
that two-day weekends are too short. And then, one day my eldest,
who was nine last year came home from school,
collapsed onto the sofa, and she said to me, “Mum, I’m tired.” “Getting tired at the age of nine,
that’s too bad,” I thought, but she said, “No Mum, I’m tired
of being scared of making a mistake.” As a mother, and I’m sure it would
have been the same for any of you, that upset me, but at the same time,
it reminded me actually, of the rule that had been passed
on to me when I was little. That rule which is so important
in French education, “Mistakes are not allowed.” As I was saying earlier,
I see four consequences to this rule which mean that this rule
is really very harmful to our children. The first of these consequences
is intolerance. If I show you this sign with my hand
what number do you see? Good! Right answer. In France. But wrong answer in China. This sign means eight in China. Here you can see
two different styles of handwriting: on the right is
the Anglo-Saxon handwriting that my daughters
learned to read and write with, on the left, the French handwriting
that you all know. My youngest daughter is called Inès. When she arrived in France last year,
she was in the class CE1, and she started to write her name
with the Anglo-Saxon handwriting, as it was the only one she knew. Some of my close family members
told her, and her school teacher too, told her that she was writing
her name badly, that she was wrong. Her teacher made her write lines
of “I” s in the French style so that she could eventually
write her name correctly. So far, I can accept that. The problem was when my daughter
said to me recently, “But I didn’t use to write
my name normally.” It’s that word “normally”
which I find really unacceptable. Because we’re all agreed that:
OK, in France we have decided on a certain number of conventions,
and in France we apply those conventions. So far, so good. However, what we must teach our children is that in the world there are
as many conventions as there are cultures, and that if it’s normal in France to write
from left to right and horizontally, in Japan it is completely normal to write
from right to left and vertically. That doesn’t mean any one convention
should be favored over another. The second consequence of this rule,
“Mistakes are not allowed,” is that it causes very low self-esteem. I would like you to just reach
into your memory bank, and in your memory bank
try to pick out a memory of a bad homework you did, a bad dictation exercise,
a bad maths test. Try to remember
what you felt at that moment, how you felt when you were given back
your bad piece of work when you saw the grade,
all the marks in red, and that you even had to
take it home to your parents. Remind yourself of what you felt
at that moment, maybe injustice, but undoubtedly anger, disappointment, and in the end,
a very bad image of yourself. My daughter then,
as I was saying a minute ago, Inès, who I told you about,
went back to the CE1 class. She started doing
dictation exercises in French only she had never done them in French
because she had always studied in English. So for her, dictation, French spelling,
etc., was all new to her. Of course, the first few of them
went quite catastrophically. in fact not just the first few,
but all the rest, too. In fact we, as parents, gave her
a hard time about her failures, about her bad grades, and her school teacher
was hard on her, too. She made her do lines of words,
lines of spellings, and corrections. My daughter was simply convinced that she was rubbish
at dictation exercises in French, and that it wasn’t even worth
trying to change things, she was just rubbish, and that was that. Then, recently, she talked about it
with a friend of ours who told her, “It’s quite strange really, because before you had very good grades
in your English dictation exercises. So I don’t understand
why you have this problem now.” Actually, my daughter started to reflect, and she realized that yes, actually, she had already been
capable of getting good grades, and she had already been
able to work on it. So having thought about it, maybe she was capable
of doing well after all. So she set to work. The next week she started working
on her words and on spelling, she came back with a 16/20
in her French dictation exercise. And very recently, and this happened
a very short while ago, you can see the date
of this work is October, 17, she came home
with her first 20/20 in dictation. What our friend did
was not sorcery, it was not magic. What our friend did was instead
of focusing on our daughter’s failures, she quite simply drew her attention
to her successes and her strengths. That’s how, little by little,
she changed her perception of herself, and we succeeded in seeing this result. The third consequence,
in my opinion, of this rule, “Mistakes are not allowed,” is a lack of autonomy
when faced with a problem. I’m an educational engineer,
an analytical engineer. In my ten years in the industry, I have had the opportunity to work
on Japanese quality management techniques and in particular,
as you can see here, Jidoka. Toyota worked
on a quality management technique using a car assembly production line. In Jidoka, there is an aspect
that I like very much, which is to say that the operators
in an assembly line instead of giving them an inspector
at the end of the chain to say yes or no, the car is acceptable or not, it’s each worker
in the chain, in his or her post, who has the responsibility
to inspect himself or herself. They do the inspection themselves, if they find a mistake,
if they come across a mistake, they can even stop the chain
by pulling on a little thread to fix their mistakes, so they don’t pass on products
to their neighbor which are not conform. What is the link between the workers
at Toyota and children in education? In fact, your child in education is in exactly the same position
as the production line worker. Today, what we do is we put
an inspector at the end of the line. We make sure there is always an adult:
a schoolteacher, a parent. It’s this adult who checks the work. In fact when the child works
and tries not to make mistakes, he’s not doing it for himself,
but to please the adult, he does it to avoid
disappointing the adult, to avoid being told off by the adult. I’ve brought in a photo
of an educational tool that my daughters used
in their classes in Tokyo, which a very simple mathematics tool. It’s a set of little cards
with equations on them. The children pull out an equation,
calculate their answer, and all they have to do to check
the answer is turn over the card. Maybe the child has got it wrong, maybe they’ll see
that they’ve actually made a mistake so they will re-do that question, but in any case, the feeling
they have at that moment, maybe a little low self-esteem, but nothing compared to
what they might feel if it was an adult telling them, “You’ve gone wrong here, and it’s me
who will give you the answer.” I think that is
what we must teach our children. Our children must become
independent in this regard. They must be capable of detecting
their mistakes on their own. We don’t want them to become adults
who are always relying on somebody else to know if their work is good or not. The final consequence is,
in my opinion, a lack of perseverance. When I came back from Asia last year, I had a plan to open
an international school to share with other children
what my daughters had experienced abroad. For a year, I worked
at getting sponsorship, approval, authorization
from the Council, recruiting teachers, recruiting families, ordering materials,
initiating communication-public relations. I even had three t-shirts made. I turned my daughters
into sandwich-boards, with the logo of the school on the front, around which I had printed,
“Opening in September 2011.” But in June 2011, the owner
of the building I was going to rent simply announced that he didn’t want
to let out the building anymore. So the new school year of 2011
simply fell through. But from this first failure,
I learned lots of lessons, particularly, with regard
to my work ethic, planning objectives, timetabling, communication. Now I’m setting out on a new project, and applying those lessons
that I’ve learned from this first failure. There’s a saying which I like very much
by Winston Churchill who said, “Success is going from failure to failure
without losing one’s enthusiasm.” That’s what we need to teach
our children today. That’s what we want
for the adults they are to become. So that they are able to move forward,
to make mistakes, to live with those mistakes,
but to carry on going. “He who does nothing, never puts
a foot wrong,” is what we always say. It’s true that if we forbid children
to make mistakes, they have no choice
but not to start anything new. What I wanted to say is that the children
who we have around us today are the society of tomorrow. If we want tomorrow’s society
to be made up of adults who want to move forward,
who want to start new things, who won’t be afraid of taking risks, who won’t be afraid of failure,
and of other people watching, it’s time to change our message. That’s why I propose to you
from today onwards, to enter into a new era. An era which will end the ban on mistakes, where we will give to our children
the right to make mistakes. Thank you. (Applause)

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