Why Being Smart Doesn’t Help You Find God: Emma Stoks (Transcript)

Full text of entrepreneur Emma Stoks’ talk titled ‘Why Being Smart Doesn’t Help You Find God’ at TEDxAmsterdamED conference.

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TRANSCRIPT:

Emma Stoks – Entrepreneur

A few months ago, I was at a primary school, and three six-year olds came up to me. They had a very important question, because they wanted to know if God has created the world, and all their attempts at finding the answer had failed.

Their Plan A was looking in a book called Everything about the Earth. But that book didn’t have the answer. They couldn’t read yet, but they looked at all the images and none of them looked like God. So it probably didn’t say if God has created the world.

Their Plan B was going on YouTube and looking at the really old videos, because if you go to the really old ones, God must be in them. Unfortunately, He was not.

So they moved on to Plan C, which was coming to me the first ground up they ran into and asking for my help. I asked them a couple of questions and we ended up having an interesting discussion about whether God is a man or woman, a star, or more or less human, and whether God exists, even if some people may not believe that.

And when I look back at that afternoon, I can still see their red cheeks and sparkling eyes. They were hungry for the answer and to me, this is the perfect example of what learning looks like: They were curious, they were fascinated, and the question mattered to them.

Unfortunately, they only get 2 hours a week to be swept away by their curiosity and the other hours they have to sit still and do what the teacher tells them to.

I have a one year old niece and every time I see her, I see her learning. Last week, for example, she discovered that our neighbors have a big pond full of fish and she also discovered that if she would stand by the hedge and sing this song about a little fish, somebody would come up, pick her up and show her the pond. So she would sing the song all afternoon and we would be picking her up.

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You could say that she learned how to manipulate that day, but I think that she learned how her behavior can cause behavior of others. Just like a baby when he’s dropping his toy isn’t learning how to manipulate, but training his muscles to pick up and let go.

We know that children are always learning. We just call it playing. And at the age of six, when “real school” starts, we take all the learning and call it education. And from that moment you have to listen to the teacher. Which is kind of funny because we don’t know what the future holds.

And with the world changing faster than ever, we don’t know what young people need to be fully equipped for the rest of their lives. As a matter of fact, we can’t even keep up our educational content right now.

Young people studying computer science already call their modern coding class as history class, because it’s so far behind what they’re seeing online.

Okay, so we know already that we don’t know what the future holds, and that we need independent people who can learn and adapt.

What we do, however, is starting at age six, we hijack the concept of learning. And from that moment, a teacher tells you what to learn, when to learn, and when you’ve succeeded in learning.

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