Forget what you know! Jacob Barnett is a 14-year-old PhD student studying quantum physics! Wow! He speaks in this TED Talks video about how learning is all fine and dandy, but real creations come when people stop learning and start thinking. What Barnett means by this is that you have to stop settling for the mundane facts that are simply presented to you in school and begin to open your mind to the possibilities. He describes, “In order to succeed you have to look at everything with your own unique perspective.” When you think, it is genuinely unique and creative in your own way. This is how new ideas and scientific findings are discovered. This video gave examples of geniuses, like Isaac Newton and Albert Einstein, and how their learning was inhibited through a school closing or something like that and it was the best thing that could have happened for them. They began to independently and creatively think and created great concepts such as quantum physics and calculus. I thought that Barnett’s reasoning was fantastic! Stop learning in order to start thinking! Now, being a 14-year-old and being a PhD student, much of Barnett’s scientific talk about the physics portion of things was nearly lost on me! I understood his main points in his discussion, but his examples were quite complex and I could not wrap my head around the quantum physics. It also amazed me how far Barnett had come in such a short time. At age 10, he was applying and beginning to attend college. WHAT!?! Now he’s a PhD student!? Barnett has autism and started out in a regular special education classroom, but he wasn’t learning anything, so he began thinking about what he was interested in. Soon enough, he had created his own theorem. At the age of 14! It just amazes me how talented some people are.
This TED Talk will definitely affect the way I go about teaching and educating. When I become a teacher, I will try to enable thinking more in my classroom, rather than just learning. I will give my students projects where they can explore their own interests and be able to think and create things. Giving students the opportunities to think and explore is a crucial part in the educational process. This video has given me a whole new perspective on the relationship between learning and thinking. They don’t go hand in hand. Many times one has to stop so the other can take over and flourish. I highly recommend this video to all future educators.
Barnett posed a challenge on his audience. He challenged them to stop learning for the next 24 hours. He challenged them to pick a special interest field. Something that each person enjoyed and was interested in. He challenged them to be the field. To think and create for the next 24 hours. Could you do that?