“Collective Learning” -“The history of the world in 18 minutes” by David Christian

I watched this Tedtalk called “The history of our world in 18 minutes” by David Christian.  I wasn’t really sure what it was going to be about before watching it but it turned out to very interesting.  He started with the question, “how does the Universe make complexity?” The answer he stated was “with great difficulty”.  He explained that through history there are these certain threshold moments.  These moments mean that the complex things are getting more fragile and it is more difficult to create complexity.  At this point in the video I was still confused on how we were talking about the history of the world in 18 minutes but then he started explaining these threshold moments from the beginning of time.

David Christian started with the beginning of time.  There was nothing, no time or space, it was pure darkness.  Then he moved on to the next threshold moment when the universe appeared and now there were fundamental forces and matter. He went through the big bang, gravity, and the formation of the solar system.  However, then living things emerge. Something he talked about was the Goldilocks conditions for life.  These included: the right amount of energy, diverse chemical elements, and liquids.  The Earth was perfect at first because of the vast oceans and amount of liquid water available. DNA started to create and duplicate itself through the ocean, however there were imperfections and errors that are necessary to diversity and complexity.  From here we have an evolution of different living things. It turns out that when the astroid destroyed the dinosaurs, it was great news for mammals.

Christian considers humans as another threshold.  This is because of our DNA and how we are able to learn.  We are blessed with our communication and how we are able to share everything we have learned so that it will live beyond our human selves.  He calls this “collective learning”.  We are the only species in 4 billion years to have this quality.  We are able to creatively share information and everything that goes along with that.

This was a very intriguing video to watch.  I really enjoyed the points he made at the end about collective learning.  This is a perfect way of stating this.  We, as humans, would not have been able to come this far if we didn’t have collective learning. This is the reason that we have the technology, theories, and research that we do.  Humans are able to collaborate with each other to create more complexity and keep our species alive.  This is an important point to take into account as teachers as well.  We have to realize the power of collective learning and collaboration.

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