Toxic culture of education: Joshua Katz at TEDxUniversityofAkron

  • Published on May 2, 2014
  • Joshua Katz is a high school math teacher in Orange County, FL.
    Joshua's Talk:
    In the mid 1800's, Horace Mann captured the potential impact of education on society. We have yet to realize the potential he saw, and in fact, we are missing the mark by a wider and wider margin. We have created a "Toxic Culture of Education" in our country that is damaging students, impacting our economy, and threatening our future. Since the passage of No Child Left Behind, we have embraced a culture of high stakes testing and are perpetuating a false sense of failure in our schools. We have ignored research and data on effective policy making practices in order to serve the interest of private industries that have monetized our students. The impact is being felt in communities, on college campuses, and in our economy. The solution lies in a common sense approach to student development, curriculum choice, career exploration, and relevant data analysis. This talk will present a vision of an education system that allows us to embrace our full potential if we only had the courage to ask "Why Not"?
    About TEDx, x = independently organized event:
    In the spirit of ideas worth spreading, TEDx is a program of local, self-organized events that bring people together to share a TED-like experience. At a TEDx event, TEDTalks video and live speakers combine to spark deep discussion and connection in a small group. These local, self-organized events are branded TEDx, where x = independently organized TED event. The TED Conference provides general guidance for the TEDx program, but individual TEDx events are self-organized.* (*Subject to certain rules and regulations)

Comments • 2 641

  • IggyTthunders
    IggyTthunders 16 hours ago

    'We need to get rid of the corruption from the public education system!'
    A system that forces me to pay for someone else's children's education, whether i want to or not: sooo, you want to get rid of the "corruption" from an institution that tries to teach children "values" but relies on the use of force? That's like rubbing soap on a turd until it's clean. That doesn't "logic" at all. You're trying to lionize something that literally precludes someone's choice about where their money goes, that inhibits their ability to choose, for themselves, what education they invest in for their children. It doesn't *matter* if I can choose to pay for private: I have no choice when it comes to paying for public education. That affects my ability, individual, to invest.
    'Public education is an x-many billion dollar industry that doesn't ask its customers what they want.'
    You mean a company that works on a budget, not for profit, and thus doesn't have to answer directly to market forces, expands its budget without adapting and changing its faulty business model? I'm shocked.
    'It's the big private companies, they're the super villains.'
    Nooo. It's the private companies in bed with government: any market monopoly can only exist indefinitely when a government is its trigger man. The culprit isn't the companies: it's the biggest monopoly of all, the government. If they weren't forcing people to buy this product, concocted by these corporatists, we'd have a choice *not* to buy it! As things are, we have to buy whether we use the product or not; so, what's the market incentive for these assholes to adapt and offer a better product? There isn't.

  • chibornblu67
    chibornblu67 21 hour ago

    Thank you Joshua Katz for this powerful presentation on public education in the U.S.!!!

  • Thugzilla
    Thugzilla Day ago

    If only it was a perfect world

  • Meta Mage
    Meta Mage 2 days ago

    Another completely accurate talk. The education system is an absolute joke.

  • Spiritual Intelligence


  • Steve Snider
    Steve Snider 3 days ago +1

    #1 education system: Finland. When you look at how it functions, you see that what we do in the U.S. is backwards. People need their basic needs met. Maslow's hierarchy? Duh! When the goal is money, the students take a back seat. And thinking more broadly, about judging fish on how they climb trees, isn't that the market system in general? For example, ME. I'm intelligent & well read. Cultured and open-minded. Compassionate and charismatic. But my skills and knowledge aren't marketable. My resume can get me a job at Burger King. But the knowledge I possess could benefit mankind. I'm a biologist, sociologist, philosopher. But not on paper. So welcome to Burger King, can I take your order? Would you like to try our Wasted Potential w/ cheese? It comes with a side of Tragedy.

    • Pete
      Pete 22 hours ago

      Great comment Steve. Fact is, there are a LOT of people in the same boat. Want to see the world? Join the military. Want to see your own society right where you live for what it really is, with all blinders off and away from the safety of the comfort bubble of the echo chamber that most people spend their entire lives in, without ever wanting to leave? Become a taxi driver in a medium to large North American city, like me. Believe me, you'll see it all (that is, you'll see all that you're willing to see). I promise you that the instant we help, REALLY help the poorest and most disenfranchised 20% of our society, the world will DRASTICALLY leap forward virtually overnight in every area, including research and innovation, economic development, world poverty, health care, and, of course, education, to mention only a few.

      Each of us who live in this highly privileged part of the world need to ask ourselves, are we choosing to live only for ourselves and our families, or can we decide to help just one person outside our comfort bubble who desperately needs it, every day (or even every week) for just a few minutes at a time? Because government isn't going to do it, they're too busy exploiting their own people to ensure their own bureaucratic survival at all costs. If everyone who could afford it gave a half-hour of their time each week to help one person, that's all it would take. Everything would change, for the better.

      I'm a bit full up on wasted potential and tragedy, though, so I'll just have a small salad with a Compassion cookie, thanks. :)

  • Andrew LaVoie
    Andrew LaVoie 6 days ago


  • Maddy Belk
    Maddy Belk 6 days ago +1

    This needs to be heard! I repeat. This needs to be heard!

    ROBERT BLAKE 6 days ago

    This can’t be correct ! Jimmy Carter fixed all this with the Department of Education. Took it out of local control and moved it to DC. It’s just gotten better and better, right ?

  • GirlyVader
    GirlyVader 6 days ago

    FSA AND FCAT ARE AND WERE THE WORSE. Testing is just a bad thing and even if you study you can have a bad day or hard test. There are easy and difficult tests for the same tests. It’s so bad and should be changed to something better

  • Abu Taher
    Abu Taher 7 days ago

    Incredibly powerful!

  • blindmanwithecholocation

    On the morning of my history examination my dad gave me a lift into school and I blacked out, I woke up in an ambulance on my way to the hospital. I had a stress induced seizure which I still feel the effects of to this day. It's ridiculous.

  • Karen Bracken
    Karen Bracken 8 days ago

    What they need are parents that value their children, love and adore and nurture their children. Instead kids are pushed off to someone else to raise. Parents depend on others to raise, feed and care for their kids then we wonder why our kids do not succeed. They grow up feeling unloved and abandoned. They may not realize this themselves but what we are doing in our families defies all human nature.

  • Mar Son of Jo
    Mar Son of Jo 11 days ago

    Go for Values Formation!

  • Cheryl Martin
    Cheryl Martin 11 days ago


  • ai12
    ai12 12 days ago

    If I fail something in school it means I literally have no interest or motive to think that it is useful to me.

  • Steven Kurinec
    Steven Kurinec 12 days ago

    lol "the system is bad because it goes through the government and doesn't get to the lets give the government more money" yeah thats totally the solution

  • Hoes Mad
    Hoes Mad 13 days ago

    This is so true, I’m honesty scared as a 9th grader, I’m not good at math, science, or anything except art. I wish they could teach us subjects that we excel instead of forcing stuff down our throats. :/

  • Lisa T
    Lisa T 14 days ago +1

    The only thing missing from this talk was a mic drop.

  • kool aid
    kool aid 14 days ago


  • Joe M
    Joe M 15 days ago +2

    The most eloquent summation I've ever heard. Brilliant. Thank you for your thoughtful, passionate, inspirational words.

  • Aamer Taher
    Aamer Taher 16 days ago

    The sooner we stream the students into their skill/passion of choice the better for the student. There is no absulute need for college education.

  • Copycat97 Jonnuelle
    Copycat97 Jonnuelle 16 days ago +2

    It's 2019. This should really spread to more people, because this is important to shaping the future.
    Besides, if a few kids hate school, it's normal. But if 95% of students hate school, that should be a pretty clear sign that something is not right.

  • methecat
    methecat 17 days ago +1

    We’ve stopped educating for life, and started teaching for tests.

  • FFADOS Now
    FFADOS Now 18 days ago

    Preach. I am one of them. A master in kindness, empathy, love, and respect to all. Yet no college degree and underemployed because.

  • Toxic Rhino2129
    Toxic Rhino2129 19 days ago +2

    I literally broke down into tears one time during my freshman year because I couldn’t remember any of the math on a quiz because I didn’t understand it.

  • Miguel Guzman
    Miguel Guzman 19 days ago

    Sometimes you have to go ‘above and beyond’ when it comes to fully understanding a subject. It only took me 15 years to realize that. Now i am 18 and a half.

  • Angel G
    Angel G 19 days ago

    So far the only thing i see as progressive is in the last 2 years of highschool there are some programs to teach nursing or trade jobs. Had a friend that had a nursing job right out of school at 18 years old. Kids can take college courses at 16 with parents permission to get a head start .

  • Byzantine Catholic For Life


  • Galimeer5
    Galimeer5 20 days ago

    "How do taxes work?"
    "A^2 + B^2 = C^2"

    • pterafirma
      pterafirma 5 days ago

      "How does construction work?"
      "a² + b² = c²"

  • Vicarious Gamer
    Vicarious Gamer 20 days ago +1

    Now Joshua, you need to remember that this will always be on your "permanent" student record ! The education system is just horrible ! Businesses want sheep, not leaders. So why teach children to be leaders ? We're are just cattle, fodder. The worlds next leaders are being groomed.

  • Vicarious Gamer
    Vicarious Gamer 20 days ago

    Round off to the tens, and subtract 2 ?

  • flounder
    flounder 21 day ago

    Very profound . . . very inspiring . . . and so true . . . Such basic ideas have been around for decades --- but at the end of day nothing changes due to vested interests, inertia, ossification. The only thing that will really shake things up is advanced technology.

  • James Linder
    James Linder 22 days ago

    Kids without parents who care is a bigger problem; how would he try and solve that? Morality's basis is what? Religion might matter...

  • James Linder
    James Linder 22 days ago

    Blaming private education isn't go to improve public education. Better to blame university though that too is too limited. Would he be ok with vocational education for most?

  • kymberley Paige
    kymberley Paige 22 days ago

    As a Hypnotherapist I am seeing a huge increase in our young suffering from Anxiety and depression and i believe it is the school system that is failing them. I was teaching in Education for 23 years and one year our students were expected to pass 77 assessments in a 32 week course. No time to learn only time to be judged

  • Matthew Mukalere
    Matthew Mukalere 24 days ago

    Stay Woke

  • lori the butcher
    lori the butcher 26 days ago +1

    Wow I have been telling my daughter this ....what a smart teacher.....nice talk

  • Joe Adams
    Joe Adams 26 days ago

    Can someone identify the "high stakes" being mentioned? Sounding convincing isn't the same as having evidence. Show me some high stakes.

  • Brian Mogle
    Brian Mogle 26 days ago

    Today's date is 23 May, 2019. This is awesome and 100% correct still today, nothing has changed! I graduated High School in 1986, I was bad at math but I graduated. Now, I'm in college taking the Algebra he talks about, trying to learn factoring quadratic equations and plotting them so I can pass and move on to the next required math class so I can obtain my Associates Degree and then get into my four year degree program and graduate. Then I will never use Algebra again in the field of work I'm going into. Same thing with having to take useless college classes like History and writing. I'm not going to be a historian or a writer. It's all about the money like Joshua said, not about what the student needs.

  • Geistig fit
    Geistig fit 27 days ago

    I wish he'd come to Germany.

  • John Wick
    John Wick 27 days ago

    I can get behind what this guy says but unfortunately things still feel the same.

  • Osiris Scott Jannise
    Osiris Scott Jannise 27 days ago

    When I went to school I had a law class which it would teach you the laws the punishments and actually order of the United States the police officer that taught me about the life he would actually have one on one with his students that police officer taught how to do my homework and stuff like because I couldn’t learn it with my other teacher not saying it was her fault but I work better with someone that I respect and knowledge has a person who cares and understand I did absolutely terrible in school with a 2.4 gpa but because of that one officer he helped me pass high school what I’m saying in the long run this person speaking is all from the heart

  • Laura H
    Laura H 27 days ago +1

    Throwing money at public schools will not fix them ever.

  • Ghosted 90
    Ghosted 90 28 days ago +7

    Standardized Tests stole my self-confidence.

  •  28 days ago

    Lots of claims; little evidence.

  • well being
    well being 28 days ago

    Telling the truth hinders your job opportunities.

  • Room2grow rose
    Room2grow rose 28 days ago

    There are soooooooo many other factors playing into why we have a failing public school system. “Super villains “? Less address the culture, the state of the family, no-fault many things 🙄

  • Chris Stratford
    Chris Stratford 28 days ago

    follow the money ..... to the teacher's unions too

  • scott garland
    scott garland 29 days ago

    What a clown. Wah wah wah.

  • Erich Macalalad
    Erich Macalalad 29 days ago

    I had a dream once, now it's forgotten. The thing that's on my mind now is to pass all my subjects, graduate, and go to college..😢

  • 델산토레베카
    델산토레베카 29 days ago

    We need more people like him...

  • Rebekah Pedersen
    Rebekah Pedersen 29 days ago

    The current education system is like an abusive relationship. When you see it isn't different, eventhough it keeps promising it's going to change, there comes a time when you know it's just time to move on. Break-up is inevitable. It's time for the US to break-up with its abusive educational system. It's time to learn from our mistakes and look for a healthy, loving relationship.

  • Zzul Ma
    Zzul Ma 29 days ago +3

    American class rooms are just a business to be exploited.

  • Rangers2020
    Rangers2020 29 days ago +3

    Am I the only one who thinks that school makes learning not fun because learning isn’t supposed to involve anxiety about living in a box

  • Marie
    Marie 29 days ago

    What do we do with this information? How do we fight this?

  • binqing
    binqing Month ago

    Not all students have the ability to go to college. As long as the children find their gift, a handyman, chief, driver or any other jobs that make an honest living deserve respect.

  • Scott Sadler
    Scott Sadler Month ago

    Good stuff!

  • MisterTutor2010
    MisterTutor2010 Month ago +10

    My fourth grade teacher told my parents I had a learning disability. I got my PhD in biochemistry 4 years ago :)

  • P. Jacobs
    P. Jacobs Month ago

    Very well said, sir!

  • Raul Benitez
    Raul Benitez Month ago

    A bright future for BITCOIN which is the best performer asset among different markets is approaching. You as an investor must have at least a fraction of bitcoin n your portfolio
    Do not sell your BITCOIN just yet, let it grow in value

  • AGN
    AGN Month ago

    Kowtow, Mr. Katz
    I'd like to see people like you as secretary of education to make (the USof)America sane again.

  • Trai1b1aze
    Trai1b1aze Month ago

    Is that a male teacher? Damn this must be a really old video... :D

  • Alec Zachreson
    Alec Zachreson Month ago +2

    hehe, when he said "Horace Mann" the CC changed it to "Horseman"

  • Aymet Sarmiento
    Aymet Sarmiento Month ago

    Waooo!!! I came from another education sistem where students were happy but here it is a daughter, 10 years old, beginnig learning of the language, master grade in reading this year, does not sleep well when has these kind of tests "STAAR" , it is not is not.

  • Sweety Shetty
    Sweety Shetty Month ago

    You nailed it.

  • ben limbert
    ben limbert Month ago

    please come to UK and explain that to my government... the education system here sucks now.

  • Natasha Conrad
    Natasha Conrad Month ago

    100% in agreement with this!

  • Christine Mitchell
    Christine Mitchell Month ago +1

    I went to high school in the fifties. We had 6 grades in every year starting with the senior high school followed by the junior high school. Senior high was where the professionals were expected to come from, junior high, depending on the students ability was where the tradesmen, truck drivers, shop assistants etc.came from. everyone from top to bottom had to study reading writing and arithmetic, from there other subjects were added as you moved up the grades. The best part of the system was everyone found their own level and you could move up or down through the grades if you were coping or struggling, result being students could move at their own pace without being slowed down by less competent students and the lower grades could study without feeling embarrassed by their inability to grasp the concept of the lesson as quickly as the higher grade students.

  • Ria Kalu
    Ria Kalu Month ago +3

    Pay attention to these facts and wake up people. We need to stand up and be a voice for our children and not let them be a product of their circumstances. Reflect also on the opening statement of this talk.

  • Let me Die
    Let me Die Month ago

    dude my heart i see this it breaks my heart

  • Grimgar Scrivenger
    Grimgar Scrivenger Month ago

    Can someone, please... do that. The thing at 10:50 , someone do that, please. I’m in tenth grade, I don’t know how to do that, any of it. I don’t even have a clear image of how long five metres is, or what exactly two kilometres or even three millimetres looks like. I failed math this year, even though I got above an 85 in grade nine. I failed the literacy test (and English, too, probably) even though I love writing; I know how to write, I’m an author on Ao3, writing is my L I F E. Please, let other people see this. Please. Please.

  • Jay D33
    Jay D33 Month ago

    Our education system needs a major rebuild. Standardized tests been and always will be a trap. Having ADHD and being on the spectrum is something my college professors didn't understand. For profit colleges need to go.

  • Hajdu Nelli
    Hajdu Nelli Month ago

    i have no words! you must try to find bigger audiences... fight for the right! Amazing talk.

  • tukkatoontoon
    tukkatoontoon Month ago

    N E O L I B E R A L I S M

  • Junaid Sayed
    Junaid Sayed Month ago

    Training to get a job for a better lifestyle in turn increasing artificiality by sabotaging the thinking ability.

  • Alex Martin
    Alex Martin Month ago +2

    Really really good talk. I hope education changes by the time My kids start whenever that would be. It seems like even more of a nightmare than when i went to public school.

  • GameoftheNight
    GameoftheNight Month ago

    That way of multiplying 9s isn’t the easiest. Much easier to multiply by ten then subtracting the other number.

  • precognation
    precognation Month ago

    Finally, someone comes out and says it. Horrible system devalues and wastes valuable resources and destroys potential. Brilliant man. Hope he can enact change.

  • Cara Crabtree
    Cara Crabtree Month ago

    We should take a lesson from somewhere like Finlands educational system...

  • Alexandria Garcia
    Alexandria Garcia Month ago +1

    2019, dudes, spread the message at least,

  • George R
    George R Month ago

    Cultural differences very important to understand some children are taught to work hard summer not

  • George R
    George R Month ago +5

    Children are under stress for this stress is the problem

  • miyuki
    miyuki Month ago +1

    I'm not sure how to feel about this. I grew up in a super competitive environment (I'm not from the US), and I went to a fairly high-ranked school. I was bullied in middle school and early high school for having lower grades and few friends, so eventually I left and my parents sent me to a school overseas, in California. To me everything seemed so easy and.... I don't want to say "dumbed down," but simplified, I guess? Inherently I still think my old school had the superior education system (it was an IB school) even though I had bad experiences.

  • Doreen Marie
    Doreen Marie Month ago

    Maybe I am Natalie and maybe I have math final on Friday that I should be studying for

  • Esther Roberts
    Esther Roberts Month ago

    My apologies to all students that as a member of the voting public we have not done anything to stem this trend and it goes on. Shame on us! This is the future of our country. It makes a difference to all of us.

  • Crocoshark
    Crocoshark Month ago

    This guy's speech is spell-binding, it's a metronome and rhyme scheme short of being a rap.

  • Cree0
    Cree0 Month ago +4

    The things I'm most interested in school are psychology, art, and astrology and yet I'm being forced to learn about rocks, the earth's crust, how weather works, things that happened thousands of years ago, math that I won't even use, and many other useless things. Instead of learning about earth and rocks, I want to learn about the human mind and space, and yet I don't even get the choice to learn psychology. We learned about space for one week. We learned about rocks for a month. Rocks are rocks! Cool they exist!! I want to learn about what could exist in the unknown, not about pebbles I could easily see outside. I was forced to take art for only one quarter. If it were my choice, I'd have art everyday. I've always loved art, it's my passion, and yet society tells me if I go into the course of what I'm good at, art, I'm going to fail. Telling us that doing what we enjoy and what the world needs more of is going to cause us to fail is extremely upsetting for me.
    Thankfully my mom is going to homeschool me. I'm currently in 8th grade waiting for school to get out so I can come home and be taught by my mother, someone who has no experience in teaching, about subjects that are more useful in my future. My mom is horrible at drawing and painting and yet she's going to have me do art for a whole hour. I'd rather do what I love for only an hour than learn about useless "facts" that won't get me anywhere in life. If I were to stay in school, I'd probably lose all interest in my passions, I've already thought about quiting animation a few times. Why? Because school taught me to fail rather than to succeed.
    That's all I've gotten from school, this 8th year made it worse for me.
    Up until the 4th quarter of 8th grade, I wanted to be an animator. Why did that change in the 4th quarter? Because school shoved college plans in my face and told me what I'd be good at depending on my grades. Art wasn't even talked about. So that put the idea that I shouldn't do that in my brain.
    I've changed my mind these past few days. I love art and want to continue doing it.
    Yet.... Most of what us students are passionate about is ignored.

  • FusionSniping
    FusionSniping Month ago

    The outcome of an exam won't define the outcome of your future

  • FusionSniping
    FusionSniping Month ago

    We need to learn things but we dont know why, so thats why no one wants to go to school

  • lorrane
    lorrane Month ago

    It’s 2019 and it seems like he hasn’t been heard

  • Jimmy Miller
    Jimmy Miller Month ago +1

    Sounds good but "He who has the money has the power." so his ideas got garroted before they even left his mouth.

  • DL
    DL 2 months ago +1

    What you see here is the time when a public school teacher made the best case ever for homeschooling. Now I know why public schooling keeps getting more broken - because there is big money in it. Arts, education, home economics, entrepreneurial, apprenticeship, logic and basic programming skills ... better taught by parents and motivated experts. What do I know...I just have a master's degree.

  • Echoecho90
    Echoecho90 2 months ago

    I'm a high school English teacher and YES! Finally, someone else who recognizes this disaster!

  • Jordan Braun
    Jordan Braun 2 months ago

    America will not solve this problem, and it will destroy itself because of it.

  • Jacob Austin-Sides
    Jacob Austin-Sides 2 months ago

    Im just watching like "yh, yh, good point, good point" and then thinking "Well okay yh but so what? Nothing is going to change. Schools and colleges don't care about students feelings. They just want more and more money. They don't care that their system doesn't provide students with what is really important. AND people are just going to keep going because there is no viable alternative. Life"

  • Cyrus Yasrebi
    Cyrus Yasrebi 2 months ago

    I grew up in a high-end community and went to a high school which has ~60 national merit finalists every year (I promise you I’m not making this up because I know that’s an usually large amount). I ended up doing really well despite having multiple learning disorders, but that’s because I had the resources and opportunities to make it happen. I like having these talks to refer to so I can remind myself to be grateful for the opportunities and support I’ve had.
    But beside that I also want to say that this guy is 100% correct. At my school we were taught how to think and how to learn and create. Sure the test-taking skills were part of the curriculum, but learning who we are and exploring our different interests, talents, and abilities were the main values (at least in my experience). It shows not only in the school’s success academically but also musically, artistically, etc. They have students who not only go to Ivy League schools every year but also go to prestigious specialty schools every year like Berkley College of Music, San Francisco Conservatory of Music, and the Art Insitute of California (I think that’s the school I’m thinking about). And all of this is the result of having priorities straight in schools. Because of this, I believe that we -especially the people in charge of education (particularly public education)- should take what this teacher said to heart. It definitely pays off!!

    • Cyrus Yasrebi
      Cyrus Yasrebi 2 months ago

      Also I don’t know why part of my comment is crossed out, so just read it as if it isn’t lol

  • Choryllis
    Choryllis 2 months ago

    This guy is my hero.

  • Peter Nguyen
    Peter Nguyen 2 months ago +2

    We should do away with the focus on standardized testing, instead shift our focus on helping students engage and learn at their own pace.

    • Gremory
      Gremory Month ago

      Indeed, we should push more test on students daily and not let them think critically.

  • More Than A Little Dead

    I go to a selective academy (a school you have to pass a test to get into) and it's not the teachers that are most concerned about tests, it's the students. The reason the school is so highly ranked is because the teachers have a "it's not all about passing, it's about how it will be useful in the real world" ethos. This, however effective, clashes with the students' mindsets. A lot of them have parents that push them to be the absolute best, and that's where the problem lies. Parents that don't nurture their children's talents and passions, and instead force them to pursue a career that they don't want.
    It's different for my friends in comprehensive schools, because their teachers drill into them the need to pass the next test with flying colors. Very few have teachers that will help them achieve something in the real world, and teach them the purpose of what they've learned. It's all about completing the next assignment, the next big exam, the next whatever. In the end, those grades don't matter, because you might not even make it into a university. With Britain's failing economy and rising unemployment rates, this only means a downward spiral.
    This video explores a lot of the concepts that I think about from time to time, and I wanted to add my own thoughts on this too. If you read this far, congrats.