I've been asked to give a TEDx talk (these are "satellite" versions of the "real" TED talks -- kind of like the TED minor leagues!!) on something related to education. I've had this unformed idea rattling around in my head for some time about how traditional education seems to do a poor job of developing problem solving in people -- even though humans have evolved to be natural problem solvers. The "hook" I am thinking of starting with is that, as an eventer, I want my horse to be a problem solver, not just a robot who can give pre-programmed responses. To achieve that, I try in my horse's training to give her the confidence, tools and knowledge to be a problem solver. If I can do this with a 1,500lb animal with a brain the size of a tennis ball, surely I can do this with my human students! From this "hook" I want to talk about how we can apply some fundamental ideas from good horsemanship to developing advanced skill sets in higher education.

I think my thesis ultimately will be that our hyper-focus on constant assessment emphasizes certain types of results over a holistic development of the learner. Although results ultimately ARE important, the day-to-day goals are more important in overall development, and address the needs of a wider variety of learners (in the same way that as horse trainers we do a much better job when we focus on day-to-day training rather than the blue ribbons). I don't want to beat the horse angle to death (I recognize it does has its limitations as a metaphor!) but I thought it might be a fun and different way to catch the audience's attention -- and would allow me to show some fun horse pictures!

I'm looking for general input on the idea (is it too dumb and flaky?). What would also be really helpful are great quotes from trainers about the training process -- specifically quotes about developing confidence, rewarding the try, recognizing improvement, not blaming the horse, etc.

I have faith in the COTH brain trust -- thanks in advance!!