Children as Ideas Makers: Children have ideas worth sharing too

Children as Ideas Makers: Children have ideas worth sharing too.


I am honoured to have been asked to speak at TEDxBrum, UK on the subject of early childhood education. The opportunity to speak at TEDx potentially has a huge reach of many thousands across the UK and beyond. The talk is given to a mixed audience from many different fields, is live streamed, and filmed and uploaded onto the TEDx channel on You Tube for continued viewing and online sharing. (Gulp!) The underlying principle of TED and TEDx is “Ideas Worth Spreading” with speakers invited to share their ideas. The theme for this TEDx is DIY. DIY is the method of building, modifying or repairing something without the aid of experts or professionals.

I am so very passionate about sharing what is possible when we engage in a listening pedagogy that places such strong values on children’s ideas and thinking. However I am aware of the global pressures and trends to standardise education, creating a normalising effect by enforcing greater downward pressures to deny children the kind of education that enables democratic thought and action. The kind of thinking that enables children to do things for themselves.

I am privileged to have worked with and continue to work with some brilliant educators both here in the UK, especially in the West Midlands and abroad too in Beijing, Singapore and Sweden. I feel part of a global and connected community of dedicated educators striving for educational change through blogs, online forums and Facebook groups who are connected in their belief that children have much to say and teach us about the world we all inhabit.

I want to share just one simple idea. The idea that our youngest children have big ideas about big things and that if we wish for a better future the one thing that we can do, that costs absolutely nothing and requires no expensive expertise is to listen to them and to encourage the growth of their ideas. It is a simple idea to share, but one that is ignored by many as childhood is squeezed and education becomes an economic outcome rather than a human right and common good.

I would like to share as many as possible of our children’s big ideas. I want to show that children wherever they are pondering big questions and are capable of expressing their poetic and expressive thinking. In doing so I hope to add to the debate that challenges the notion that education is about feeding ‘facts’ to children and then testing them to know if they have remembered those ‘facts’. I hope you can help and I thank you all in advance.

I am collecting children’s reflections, ponderings, thoughts, drawings etc about what they think about The World and Ideas. If you would like to support and feel able to it would be wonderful to show how children from many places have such important points of view.

You might ask, or ponder aloud:

  • I wonder where ideas come from? Begin, End, Grow?
  • How do you think ideas are born? Where do they go?
  • How big do you think the world is?
  • What do you think the world is made of?
  • How does the world grow?
  • Do you think there are other worlds and what would they be like?
  • Does everyone have an idea?
  • What does an idea look like?
  • What colour is the wind?
  • How do things grow?
  • And all other questions in-between and beyond these

I hope to share here, my thoughts later on about what I have been pondering of late of how children think, of the role of making connections and the ways of seeing things as always in relation to something else.

With gratitude and thanks to you all – there have been some great shares already!! (email address below)

Debi Keyte-Hartland

Pedagogical Consultant and Artist Educator


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