TED talk: How to design a school for the future

by | Friday, June 02, 2023

My TED talk, titled How to design a school for the future just went live this morning. Sadly, I was traveling in India when the recordings were scheduled so I missed the whole “standing on the red-dot” looking like a thought leader who will give a talk that will inspire your thoughts.” We ended up filming it here in Tempe, which was both amazing and weird at the same time.

I must add that the title of the talk (How to design a school for the future) does not come close to capturing what, I think, the talk is really about. The title makes it appear that it is a talk about designing a school, and yes, though that does feature in the talk, that was not what I was trying to get at. Maybe what this talk is about was best captured by Bobby Nweke who described the video as helping us realize:

… that what lays behind many of our educational failures are flawed systems with values that may not be in alignment with the people those systems are meant to serve.

In other words, a focus on individuals stops us from looking deeper at systems leading to the failure.

Keeping that in mind, here is my talk. (You can learn more about Bobby and all the people who helped make this a reality below the video).


Thanks to my entire TED-Ed cohort, an amazing group of individuals doing wonderful work. It was an honor to get to hang out with them and learn from them. Here they are, In alphabetical order of first name (with links to their TED talks): Amber Cabral, Brian Johnson, Jerome Hunter, Kenneth Chabert, Kristen Nguyen, Megan Flick, Sharif El-Mekki, and Sonia Park.

I owe a shout-out to Ron Beghetto for asking me to write a piece for his book My favorite failure which became the framing device for this talk. You can read a draft of the chapter: My favorite(?) Failure

I have recounted how joining the Industrial Design Center after my undergraduate days changed my life in this talk: My journey through design; and this one: Bringing Design to Education.

The story of the school of the future could not have been possible without a huge team, from within Kyrene school district and here at MLFTC. I will not repeat their names here because that can be found in this post titled With Gratitude.

Thanks also to Paolo Cascio, videographer extraordinaire (and his team, Lance and Chris). I learned so much just watching him work – the artistry, expertise, professionalism and attention to detail was just amazing.

Thanks also to the entire TED team—making everything super easy and fun. In particular, I appreciated their concern for getting the details right things—fact-checking every part of the talk. Incredibly supportive and professional.

A HUGE shout-out to Bobby Nweke, my mentor and guide through the entire process. We went through many, many rounds of editing and feedback – and he never once lost his patience with me! If the talk looks even vaguely coherent it is due to him. Any errors and flubs are mine and mine alone. I can’t thank him enough.

Finally, the school that I described in this talk is now part of a broader initiative at the college around developing the Next Education Workforce. Though my team (and I) were intimately involved in the design of the school, we are no longer involved with its day to day operation. For more information reach out to the Next Education Workforce team.

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1 Comment

  1. starlitdevs

    Valuable article. Thanks for sharing such profound wisdom.


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