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 • 1 283

  • Zantar 16
    Zantar 16 14 hours ago

    Obama ruined the system implementing common core and no child left behind, it hold back smarter kids

  • Nexus 6
    Nexus 6 17 hours ago

    One of the best TED talks, period.

  • vincent bertin
    vincent bertin Day ago


  • Harrison420
    Harrison420 Day ago

    I literally failed Algebra 1 in 9th Grade...

  • Gerry C
    Gerry C Day ago

    Yeah why not start by throwing away the entire current roots of our education system. Dewey!
    No more progressive education no "Grades" K-12. No more passing people to the next "grade" if they fail. Education has to be building blocks you must succeed at A before you move on to B. Education should be individualized not geared to the lowest common denominator. I 100% disagree that our schools are filled with great teachers not failed ones. In my own experience in Public High School there were only maybe 6 good teachers out of the 24 teachers I had. And almost all of the rest were either terrible or incompetent.

  • Alejandro Engdal
    Alejandro Engdal 2 days ago +1

    This will never happen, humanity is doomed, might as well kill ourselves, especially if you aren't over 70 years old.

  • Just Anoman
    Just Anoman 2 days ago

    I agree with you in general but...
    Are you sure this is relevant for the "Natalie"s? a 16 year old who can't do basic arithmetic (not the logarithm, binomials etc which I agree are not necessary for everyone, but basic arithmetic). How do you expect to live a functional life with out that skill? I mean sure, you can go into a business that have nothing to do with math(tattoo artist etc), but even then you will have to deal with money, and this level of math is required for just dealing with money. Calculators and computers can only get you so far, it's not like you can use them for every calculation. And I doubt that they can even get the order of operation right for any slightly more complex problem. I mean you even mentioned bringing back home economics (and not the cooking kind) because that teaches useful life skill. I agree with you on that, that is useful, but your Natalie can't possibly do even that.
    I mean there must be some minimal standard of knowledge to be a functional member of society. No logarithm, statistic or calculus? Fine. But you need basic arithmetic. No second language, Latin root conjectures, or memorizing words that you will never need, as found on the back of SAT guides? Sure, that's fine too. But you do need basic English skills, enough to at least read your local newspaper (which, by the way, are designed with low education level in mind, or at least should be)
    And I can't even imagine what extend of non-cognitive would affect a person this much that they can't do basic arithmetic.
    I'd say you gave a rather bad example. Because Natalie isn't a victim of toxic education standard, which I assume you are going for. No, Natalie would need "help" no matter what form of education system exist, unless you count a full welfare state where any and all knowledge and skill are not needed.

  • Lamb Chop
    Lamb Chop 2 days ago +2

    That speech had heart.

  • TheAmazingBlobfish
    TheAmazingBlobfish 2 days ago

    I would love to sit down in a room with this man and just talk for hours.

  • Shivendra Kadam
    Shivendra Kadam 2 days ago +1


  • Jay Waller
    Jay Waller 3 days ago

    I'm a Natalie. Math sucks cuz I RARELY understand it and when we do one lesson in a week and I finally understand, we move on to something else. So sometimes I quit and get myself in trouble lol

  • meridiannemesis
    meridiannemesis 3 days ago

    When the country I live in had socialism, the education had everything he is talking about, but after the system change everything was changed and now you are noone if you don't have a university degree. Although uni is free here, now we simply don't have skilled workforce. Don't get me wrong, we don't want socialism back, but we want our old education system back.

  • Maik4613
    Maik4613 3 days ago +1

    poor Natalies

  • Sergio Samayoa
    Sergio Samayoa 6 days ago

    World needs ACTUAL SKILLS no artist!

  • gtafan110010
    gtafan110010 7 days ago

    He made some good points, but, tbh, a good amount was also plain bullcrap.

  • Nicolas Boddiford
    Nicolas Boddiford 7 days ago

    Personal responsibility. Parental responsibility.

  • meghapaige
    meghapaige 7 days ago


  • Pomodoro
    Pomodoro 8 days ago

    Its 2018 and it still hasnt changed

  • CwalkPinoy
    CwalkPinoy 10 days ago

    people wonder why parents aren't teaching kids how to do taxes and drive and all that when they're in school. the kids wake up at 5am, stay till 2pm, do homework, eat dinner, and go to sleep. there's no time to teach kids life skills during the 12 grades. there's barely time to entertain themselves. the weekends go by so quickly. breaks are used for vacations. and right after highschool they're stuffed into dorms with no way to know which way is up. then we wonder why college dropout rates are so high when kids are expected to pay thousands for classes that simply don't matter out of their parents pockets since in their day college was affordable. and this is before a lot of kids know what degree they even want. a lot of them change majors, realize they wasted a ton of cash and just have to eat it. and the cost is so high because colleges need to build new palace dorms for the bourgeois. the kids with that money who can pay their way through school without a care in the world. there is a very large discrepancy between community colleges and universities. i talked to a lot of people between those 2 schools and in uni there were mostly middle class students that may have to take out a loan or rely on financial aid. in community college it's the single moms who need decent work and the guys working 3 jobs on top of classes. when we wonder why male suicide rates are so high it is because we are instilling a failing education into our future men that are biologically wired to work in a dying job market that can barely sustain itself, let alone every man who needs a job. it's no wonder that men are not equipped to deal with how the system currently works and decide that life isn't worth it anymore. the education system needs a total revamp to accommodate for societal changes. 1 or 2 electives in a school that has merely 10 to choose from is very little selection for such a huge pool of careers.

  • Leonard Bullock
    Leonard Bullock 10 days ago

    Brother Joshua seems to be speaking to an empty auditorium here. That's a suspicion, but perhaps it's the reason he seems have no sense of pacing, which is often determined by ones audience. I prefer the talks that give us some pan through the public. Let's see who's there. How are they responding? Everyone wants to do a Ted talk, and load it on Facebook. Why is this forum so attractive? Is there a Ted confirmation? Does one receive the Ted bona fides?

  • Drestanto
    Drestanto 11 days ago

    "We somehow took, the education system that produce the individuals to put a man on the moon, with technology less powerful than the phone in my pocket, and characterize that education system as a failure using the word accountability."
    - Joshua Katz -
    Nice quotes, because it's very ironic. Thanks

  • Toks Olea
    Toks Olea 11 days ago

    This is seriously a good talk.

  • Karina Izer
    Karina Izer 12 days ago

    I need you to come to my school

  • Alex Carlile
    Alex Carlile 14 days ago

    I would marry this video

  • Village Platinum Productions

    it was German Scientists that put us on the moon. Yes there were plenty of products of the American educational system involved, but the leader of the project was a German and we had many other Germans on the project as well.

  • caroline-jane Hall
    caroline-jane Hall 14 days ago

    To right but this isn't just a problem in the USA.

  • Your Mom's Tits
    Your Mom's Tits 14 days ago

    This guy needs more Rigor.

  • SharebNZ
    SharebNZ 15 days ago

    Brilliant. The problem here in NZ too. This is why we homeschool.

  • droid264
    droid264 16 days ago

    100% agreement. Very good talk

  • Pepe
    Pepe 17 days ago

    The moment when somebody like Donald Trump is the president of the United States, when this guy could also be it, or atleast Secretary of Education.

  • Don Dressel
    Don Dressel 18 days ago

    EXCELLENT talk
    Unfortunately everything in our country the US is about money
    It affects us all in one way or another
    From our educations system to health care
    A few are making millions at the expense of our population

  • Docent Stef
    Docent Stef 18 days ago

    A very truthful message. Too bad there aren't enough people really wanting a better future, for our children. Time for teachers to make their own teaching methods that last more years than the books used. And nice link to The Incredibles by the way

  • alyssa b
    alyssa b 19 days ago

    LOVE love LOOOve this.

  • britters220
    britters220 20 days ago

    The pit falls of a capitalist society developing into a fascist state.

  • Cirvo Zed
    Cirvo Zed 20 days ago

    I agree with his point but expecting a highschooler to do single digit multiplication is not expecting a fish to climb a tree, it is a really bad example to start with.

  • TheCringyGamer _
    TheCringyGamer _ 20 days ago

    I hope this changes soon. I'm in 10th grade right now and I am not having a good time. Ever since I've been in 9th grade things have been downhill. And WHOA some teachers in my school are complete knobheads. But seriously this HAS to change.

  • Craig MacDermott
    Craig MacDermott 20 days ago

    military if possible become a Military Officer with a b.a. or a warrant officer with a trade. but that what you get for going to college for a useless major so you can support useless college professors that could not make it in the real world or run there own business.

  • Craig MacDermott
    Craig MacDermott 20 days ago

    most public school are a joke and out dated better off doing cyber school and working half the day or going to a vo tech half of the day if possible.

  • nas info
    nas info 21 day ago

    I like this idea

  • Megan Pechal
    Megan Pechal 21 day ago +1

    This is one of many reasons why I have chosen to homeschool.

  • tjzx3432
    tjzx3432 21 day ago

    My 9th grade year algebra class, for 8 out of the 9 months we had school, we had a bunch of different substitutes. Needless to say I didn't connect to any of their teaching styles, and most of the class failed that year.

  • SRose .fournillier
    SRose .fournillier 22 days ago

    Awesome. Standing ovation. I thought maths. I felt like a failure bc the classes were over 20 students, most troubled. And i had the same deadline to cover the same sylabus as kuds from prestigious skls. The skls and the teachers get the blame. I wanted to make a difference but i never nit the resources or time and the head of department still demanded a test at the end of ever semester. I am in corporate now. And i dont put that presure on my kids.

  • Mark Fagouri
    Mark Fagouri 23 days ago

    The sound of passion

  • Lynn Ferrell
    Lynn Ferrell 25 days ago

    This is so spot on.

  • Jared Mcdonough
    Jared Mcdonough 26 days ago

    That was amazing. Everything he had to say was always hiding in the back of my mind, but now the more i say it out loud the more i have become enlightened on what's really going on. I'm a junior in high school and i feel like ive learned nothing to help me in the real world. I know how to remember information for 24 hours and then right it down on a piece of paper.

  • Alex Stepanchuk
    Alex Stepanchuk 26 days ago

    He said all I held inside. Defund public schools and privatise it. Go Betsy devose

  • Jerry Of All Trades
    Jerry Of All Trades 28 days ago

    Seriously. Life skills shouldn't be an optional elective. I shouldn't have had to choose between more rigorous math courses when I barely passed the ones before, or to "give up" by not taking math classes anymore.

  • Double Donkus
    Double Donkus 29 days ago +1


  • Om 254
    Om 254 29 days ago

    Joshua Katz
    I agree with you 100%, you are a genius!

  • Josh White
    Josh White Month ago

    I go to a school in Newfoundland Canada , it’s not much different

  • Scott M
    Scott M Month ago

    Standarized tests don't label a student a failure. Your grades do. The ACT does. Your teacher does. Also the whole argument of teaching students beauty school skills at 14 and up instead of Math, English and History is a good idea but I don't see schools implementing it. Because it would entail hiring a lot of teachers who specialize in specific area's. Costs too much. The kid would have to leave and work during school hours. That's too radical for government schools. Charter schools might.

  • Annus6 Lol
    Annus6 Lol Month ago

    Why is he laughing...

  • Jay Urbanik
    Jay Urbanik Month ago

    When are we going to realize that this symptom is across the board in our society. Weather it be Healthcare, Justice, Peace, Education, etc..Perfecting our institutions and our world means a better quality of life for the majority but less power and wealth for the few. Our society and economy needs people to stay sick, embrace ignorance, embrace war and crime to remain profitable for the few.

  • Red Hood
    Red Hood Month ago

    I have been severely depressed since the 3rd grade. THE 3RD GRADE. I'm doing better now, but during my time in elementary school, I tried to kill myself 10 times. I have never done well in school. I stopped being able to do my homework in the 3rd grade because of how bad my depression was. I'm in the 9th grade now, unable to go to school because of my anxiety. I haven't been to school in a month. He's mad. I'm mad. Educators and parents need to get mad. School is killing me and most of the kids I know. It's eating us from the inside out. As a society, we need to be mad. If children are our future why aren't we taking care of them?

  • The Wolf525
    The Wolf525 Month ago

    I find that I like my teachers more they give me the chance to explain my mistakes, I understand what an excuse is but there is a big difference between explaining why you were wrong, or explaining why you think you are correct and giving evidence and reasoning. But, How can I *explain* my point of when I say why I think I’m right I am brushed off as using an excuse but If I have good reasoning and you still don’t listen to me and don’t give me a reason why I am *wrong* and how your opinion is correct than how can I learn from you? How can I learn from someone who can’t respect my opinion as much as they would my parents. Just because I am younger than you does not change anything. Just because I am being told to learn and listen from you does not mean than I am less than you, That I am less capable than you. I love teachers that take the students opinion into consideration, If I am taking a minute break between every ten questions or if I want to start with question 50 rather than question 1 then I have a reason. I do not enjoy being patronized and I hope to see improvement in the future from out teachers, our principles, and anyone else who underestimates others.
    I have always had the habit of drawing on my papers as I work with one hand while I work because I have a difficult time working on one thing at once without something to listen to or something to do with my hands. My teacher got mad at me because of it and I explained myself, I said, “I Draw on the sides of my paper as I work because it helps me work better and it gives my hands something to do while I think.” My Teacher replies, “Your Drawings are a distraction from your work, You can’t work on something with using your hands at the same time, Maybe you should try a stress ball?” I attempted to explain how A stress ball would not help, They are distracting and I personally have a hard time working with something larger In my hands. To add on, How does a teacher know how I best work? How can they force one way of doing things apon us when we the students might have a hard time with the way teachers or principles, etc. think we need to work.
    Also, Why do I need to do something I am not interesting in? I personally do not enjoy learning about Music history, or how scoliosis affects our spine. I want a profession in animation and I honestly do not think that High level science will help me in the way I need help. I hope one day we can teach all students equally and take in their opinions and what we need for us to be able to work correctly.

  • Dr Cyan
    Dr Cyan Month ago

    Joshua Katz, you have been added to the credits list.

  • Rose Quartz
    Rose Quartz Month ago

    Huh. I was born in the year 2000. Now that I think about it, the tests really have messed up schools because Kindergarten hit my younger brother hard, but when I was in Kindergarten, it wasn't so hard in 2005 vs. 2007 when my brother went. What I've concluded from your talk is that only born-intelligent people will be able to succeed if we don't get rid of these negative policies. From what I remember about standardized tests in elementary schools, I didn't even know what the tests were. They barely registered. No one really told me what I was doing. I just did it, but no one told me what the score was, or was supposed to be. But I'm an introvert; No one talked to me in the first place. But you're totally right about these honors kids who obsess over grades and check them every ten minutes. I know so many kids like that, but I myself have never bothered to remember to check grades. I just do the work I'm given and get a good score back. I always do that. I often can't even fathom what stupidity my peers must be slathering on quiz papers in order to get bad grades and anxiety about impending bad scores.I'm a born-intelligent young person, and I have the problem of expecting everyone I meet to be on the same mental level as I am, but I always am disappointed. Now these Natalies, gosh, well, I knew what 2x9 was in the 3rd grade. I remember learning to write my name in CURSIVE in the 3rd grade, and I still can write in cursive. I think we need to start teaching cursive again.I agree that we do need to start teaching less intelligent people more practical skills. I hate that all my high school teachers are terrified of getting fired just because students might not do well on standardized tests.I'm thinking of becoming a teacher myself. I want to teach students what they actually need to know.

  • gameradiation
    gameradiation Month ago

    What we need to do is to take action, the only way that this can change is if we do something about it. We need to start putting together events and petitions to changes these policies. Because we can complain and say that the system needs to change all we want but until we take action and bring forth solutions to these problems that's all that these will be, problems and complaints. So please reply to this comment, like it, share it, do whatever you need to do to get this call to action out there. Because I don't want to see the only future that this country has be brought up in a education system that puts performance assessments and test scores before the dreams and well being of the students and have this country be put to ruin because some businesses wanted more money.

  • Timmy
    Timmy Month ago

    Half Of My Energy Wasted On Random Knowledge

  • F. Teixeira
    F. Teixeira Month ago

    Capitalism is the motive for that toxic culture.

  • Teemu Leppä
    Teemu Leppä Month ago

    Wow...i'm not american so i can't say too much about this subject but man's got a point :) he should come to my country to give similiar speech here!! World need more people like him

  • Mike Romero
    Mike Romero Month ago

    It's okay to speak Fluent American English :)

  • Brandon Naylor
    Brandon Naylor Month ago

    As someone who is in Advanced Teaching and Learning with a concentration on multicultural education and differentiation, I say thank you! Thank you for standing up to the toxic education system that we are trying to fight against so students can have better future.

  • Hannah Conley
    Hannah Conley Month ago


  • Grant Myrick
    Grant Myrick Month ago

    I tried to kill myself in with grade over the standardized testing at the end of the year

  • Эркин Калыбеков

    He is right.Unfortunately,in my country we have realy disgustive system of education.We have studying without understanding.

  • Nefelibata
    Nefelibata Month ago

    people seen me as a monsters my whole life, I am a monster and I don't need anything else.

    MACI LARSEN Month ago

    this guy is awfully brave

    MACI LARSEN Month ago

    teachers hands are tied

  • Jordan Dhego
    Jordan Dhego Month ago

    This is it

  • Cody Thompson
    Cody Thompson Month ago

    Great work man. Such truth. Godspeed my friend.

  • Ciara Pineira
    Ciara Pineira Month ago

    Please come to Edison highschool....honestly I feel as though our school district needs this

  • William Reymond
    William Reymond Month ago

    Josh, you keep saying [or shouting] "Non-cognitive factors," what you really are describing is 'lack of parenting.' Now we have the schools, full bore, taking on the roles of parents, and the school systems and the parents seem to both love it.

  • Elizabeth Siltman Marshall

    This is so good and so true. Go Mr. Katz!

  • ~SNIP3RS~
    ~SNIP3RS~ Month ago

    lol i just cant balive the guy was saying it is p2w and says all of this stff but has not even played the game

  • TheCringyGamer _
    TheCringyGamer _ Month ago


  • zadose
    zadose Month ago

    Public schools get money from the govt for the students....... *I still have to pay for lunch.*

  • Jezre3L
    Jezre3L Month ago

    This guy is preaching. But I want to know what is being done about this. I love what he’s saying.. but is there anyone who are trying to do something about this? I know a lot of people speak about it. But what can be done?

  • Amaia Insausti
    Amaia Insausti Month ago

    Thank you. Simply. thank you

  • Miriam Norman
    Miriam Norman Month ago

    This is soooooooooooo good! His ideology regarding Education NEEDS to be implemented in our Educational System!!!!! I am a former Teacher so I completely understand why he feels this way. It's time for a CHANGE!

  • Ryan Fung
    Ryan Fung Month ago +1

    Is he related to ezra jack keats?(he changed his name. his original last name was katz

  • Cherry La Bomb Cosplays

    I get ridiculed by my teachers when I don’t complete the homework to what they “want me to get” or tests in the same way. They think it’s because I’m lazy or not trying but it’s because I just can’t get it or do it. I am smart but they won’t ever see me as that. I am talented in the arts (as you can in profile pic) so when I show my teachers my art or makeup looks, they are genuinely surprised because they don’t think I can do anything but really I can just do that so much better. I want to be tested on what I CAN do rather then EXPECTED to do.

  • ICRA Comprehensive School

    please watch the video "Change: Education and Economic" on Icra Comprehensive School - youtube

  • the orangey touqe gaming

    how are these things so obious yet nothing is done about them

  • Larry Breyer
    Larry Breyer Month ago

    Great protest. Unfortunately, the best protesters are ill-equipped to solve the problem.
    He berates private enterprise, yet it is private enterprise that provides the one solution
    supports, trade schools.

  • Quoth The Raven
    Quoth The Raven Month ago

    I'm a professional Centrelink scammer

  • Shon Phillips
    Shon Phillips Month ago

    It sounds great but at the end of the day, money runs the world, and as long as it is making money, nothing will change.

  • Ronald Boyd
    Ronald Boyd Month ago

    Teacher to student ratio.

  • Hans Magnaye
    Hans Magnaye Month ago

    This applies to Australia to a high degree.


    I'm in the 11th grade now I've been failing math multiple times and I've been put down for it everytime and I've been depressed for quiet awhile 😖

  • Tyler Powers
    Tyler Powers Month ago

    Private schools aren't bad, it's private companies like Pearson that create massive overbloated standardized tests. What we really need is a private style of education in which we can CHOOSE our schools, that can pick what they teach and how they teach.

  • bob bob
    bob bob Month ago +1


  • Chapel Hill UMC Rome

    Schools say they want parents involved but the reality is when it comes to "common core" or "new math" etc., it is difficult for parents to know how to teach our children. If a teacher can't teach something during the hour or so block, why are they sending it home for parents to teach when the parents weren't in the classroom? I also agree about the "non-measurables". My children were both adopted at an older age. They did not get some of the core things they needed growing up in order to "succeed in today's education system". The current system perpetuates failure. I have done everything I can to help my children. My oldest is NOT an academic child, but is great with his hands and a hard worker, but the school system does not offer Vocational Training. We have a generation of kids who don't know how to fix things and we push EVERYONE to college, but college is not for everyone! I have a Doctorate and I KNOW my oldest son is not ready for college - nor will he ever be! Why do we push all kids to conform to ONE educational model?

  • Rigna Tetris
    Rigna Tetris Month ago

    I like this, I am a young boy by age standerds but with what i have been through i matured rapidly into a man dispite my age. When ever i teach a person anything i know, I try to help and inspire them to go up and beyond their own self placed limits and be better and embrace their full potential and more! Its sad that i see people going at less then a tenth of what they could possibly achieve and consider it the best they can do. Sure im no better but i have been to my full potential and i found that im really alone up there and i come down, and i let myself get weaker. I might not look much, but i was through alot and can really push myself past my limits and break through and show them what i can really do. I can get straight As through all my classes but i ask myself " whats the point....This wont be used much and this is not even all that smart" so i back down and let my grades fall. I am now failing half my classes that i should be able to ace easily and the other 3 i am passing barely in. my computers class is a A because i actually know what im doing in there without thinking and other than that i dont really like it.

  • Dennis R. Levesque
    Dennis R. Levesque Month ago

    Definitely something to think about.

  • Vivek Dash
    Vivek Dash Month ago

    Is he talking to an empty audience ?

  • Vivek Dash
    Vivek Dash Month ago

    This guy has figured out everything ... I still now school was one of the best things in my life

  • Page Summer
    Page Summer Month ago

    👏🏻 this 👏🏻 is 👏🏻 so 👏🏻 true 👏🏻

  • Jane Sullivan
    Jane Sullivan 2 months ago

    This is why I hate Betsy Devos

  • Paul Swanson
    Paul Swanson 2 months ago

    There are two 'super villains' at the scene of this crime. Big business AND big government.