“Beautiful Distractions in 21st Century Learning”

When we think of potential distractions in a typical K-12 classroom, we might envision: students passing notes, staring out the window, doodling, whispering side conversations, or, heaven forbid, texting. What if we could design learning environments as experiences with built-in intentional distractions, allowing a complex and dynamic learning process? In this kind of learning environment, we would embrace, even engage distraction: a choir of inquiry, a beautiful collision of difference (in opinion, perspective, experience), or a flexible lab for hands-on, interactive problem solving. What if engaging distraction is learning?
(still) photo credit: Christian Long


    1. Hi Pam,

      I do actually. I wrote one while preparing for the talk. But naturally with TED, there is a bit of improvisation. Let me look over the transcript and tighten it up a bit. When do you need it? We can be in touch offline to talk further: lettergroove@gmail.com

      Thanks for your interest in my work and research.


      1. I’m working on the project now. My class finishes next Sunday, but I have time this weekend with my little boys gone at their granny’s house ;), so I was trying to make the most of the quiet time, I’m sure you know how that goes!

      2. I do. I’ll work on it this weekend and see how it goes. I’ll be in touch sometime tomorrow. Is this a class you teach or a class you’re taking? What is your presentation about?

      3. I am taking a class at Walden University. I have to create a multi-media presentation to convince my school board to adopt Microsoft Xbox Kinect technology in the elementary music classroom. I thought you made a profound statement about taking what many teachers see as a distraction (video games) and create a beautiful learning opportunity. I’m partnering your video with another TED talk from a teenage “gamer” about using video games as “addictive education”. It’s been a fun project! Thanks so much for your help on this!

      4. My pleasure. Especially if it will serve to advocate for positive and creative shifts in education. Your work sounds interesting and I think that’s great you’re looking at gaming and education. The two processes are not that far apart, but progressive education advocates and educators looking to activate change have a lot more work to do to convince the powers of education to loosen up the reigns and shift school to reflect the learners it serves.

        Let me review the transcript and I’ll be in touch.

  1. WOW!! That was awesome! I am so proud of you! You did a great job! That was a great topic, that needs to be discussed more!!!

    1. Thank you Sheryl for visiting my site. I also post quite a bit about Montessori education in the everyday. Check out my blog lifeandwrite.com and click on the education tabs and you will find lots of fun iterations of Montessori life in and out of the classroom. Take care.

    1. Thanks Jess. :)

      The TED platform is an important one and I was honored to have been selected to be a part of such an inspiring and engaging event.

  2. Wow… that is great, Dionne. Loved it, especially the story about the class that was shocked and grieving. What a great illustration of your point, and how life can be actively engaged in the classroom. Such an opportunity for emotional growth that might have otherwise been segregated and shut out of action and process.

    1. Thanks Sue. That experience was eye opening for me as well. I’ve worked for so many years with so many students and teachers, it’s nice to have those reminders that learning can be a humbling, life-changing experience, and that experience is different for each learner.

      I’m glad you enjoyed the talk. I am so inspired by what is possible in education and learning. There is more work to do in this area. I hope that I can be of some service in the change we would like to see in education in this country and beyond.

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