5 TED Talks for Teachers

Each year at this time I share five TED Talks that have in some way had a significant influence on my classroom. These TED Talks provide messages of hope, innovation, improvement, reflection, persistence, diversity, compassion, empathy, and success. These are truly ideas worth sharing with any educator.

Education Innovation in the Slums

When Charles Leadbeater went looking for innovative, new models of education, he didn’t find them in Finland.  Leadbeater shares successful learning approaches inspired by some of the poorest students on the planet.  

I think all students could benefit from “learning that starts from questions and problems and projects, not from knowledge and curriculum.”

Education needs to work by pull, nut push. - Charles Leadbeater

The Untapped Genius that Could Change Science for the Better

In a world where science as a whole is still largely dominated by old, white men, Jedidah Isler is not only an inspiration but a force for change.  Isler tells her story as the first black woman to earn a PhD in astrophysics from Yale, and delivers a moving message on the power of perseverance.  Her emphasis on the value of diversity can be extended well beyond science: “Simply put, we cannot be the most excellent expression of our collective genius without the full measure of humanity brought to bear.”

Do not think for one minute that because you are who you are, you cannot be who you imagine yourself to be.

The Price of Shame

This TED Talk was recommended to me by one of my students.  I hope she recommends it to all of her teachers.  Adults need to stop comparing cyberbullying to the bullying they experienced in their youth.  This talk provides a great deal of insight on why it is not the same; in fact, it’s a lot worse.

I’m ashamed to admit that I was surprised by my realization that Ms. Lewinsky is an intelligent, brave, and a talented public speaker. Although she became a household name, we really knew nothing about her.  I felt guilty to be a part of a society that has not only allowed, but encouraged public shaming and the humiliation of others.

By the end of the talk I felt empowered to affect change.  Lewinsky encourages us to become ‘upstanders’ in the online world: “To become an upstander means instead of bystander apathy, we can post a positive comment for someone or report a bullying situation. Trust me, compassionate comments help abate the negativity.”


5 Ways to Kill Your Dreams

This short talk from an entrepreneur who dedicated two years to understanding what makes people successful is full of advice that is certainly applicable to the classroom. In examining five common myths that prevent people from achieving success, Bel Pesce reminds us not to settle, be responsible for our own dreams, celebrate successes, learn from failures, and more.

Five Ways to Kill Your Dreams

Bring on the Learning Revolution

TED fans all seem to have talks that they watch repeatedly.  This gem from Sir Ken Robinson is one of mine.  It’s a follow up to his earlier TED Talk that I shared in my first annual “5 TED Talks” post.  Rather than encourage us to reform, or fix our broken education system, Robinson makes the case for an all-out revolution in education. Sadly, in a lot of places I’ve seen an increased push for conformity and standardization in education, but I’ve also seen a lot of evidence of the revolution. It’s a great talk to remind me that it’s our responsibility to bring on the learning revolution.

"We have sold ourselves into a fast-food model of education, and it's impoverishing our spirit and our energies as much as fast food is depleting our physical bodies." - Sir Ken Robinson

For more inspiration, check out The Original 5 Ted Talks That Changed My Classroom, and 5 More TED Talks That Changed My Classroom.

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Nick LaFave

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