Power to Enlighten

TED: Technology, Entertainment, Design—Ideas Worth Spreading!  If you are interested in the history of TED, Wikipedia provides a decent overview.  The staggering cost of attending a TED conference, now at $8500, becomes less significant  when we, the general public,  can access the presentations of some of the most innovative thinkers of our time for free.  I am a TED lover, so today when an article in my inbox from eSchool News, “8 TED-Ed Lessons to engage even the most uninterested students” is featured I decide I’ll talk about my favorites, ones that have inspired my students and me.  TED-x presentations, ones that are sanctioned by TED but conducted outside of the annual conference, also provide satisfying food for thought.

Every Thanksgiving I watch Louis Schwartzberg’s “Nature. Beauty. Gratitude.”  We need reminding, and he does it in such a humble way.  Students have surreptitiously wiped tears and sat mesmerized even after the class has ended to watch its conclusion.  They cite the old man’s reflections and Schwartzberg’s explanation of the phrase, “Oh, my God.”

Candy Chang’s tender, moving “Before I Die” generates its match in writing from my kids.  “Before I die, I want to be somebody’s cavalry,” is one of the lines we’ve discussed for its sheer magic.

Ludwick Marshane and his talk about an invention that came from a day at the beach with his friends has galvanized students to think about small things that might make a huge difference.

Matt Cutts’ “Try Something New for 30 Days” has prompted students to become vegetarians, eschew cell phones or a type of social media, use only reusable grocery bags.  I now give up added sugar for one month each year, usually October, and find myself into November without a sweet treat.  Halloween enticements just don’t hold the same allure after Cutts’ inspiration.

For social justice discussions, nothing inspires like Bryan Stevenson and “Let’s Talk about an Injustice”.  To be honest, I have excerpted it at times, using Edpuzzle.  When I do, invariably kids come in the next day and say they watched the whole speech at home:  “Ms. Emerson, why don’t you show the whole thing?  There’s so much more to think about!”  Particularly notable in this talk is his discussion of Germany’s decision about capital punishment in light of their history and our history with lynching.

For my students who for the most part are economically blessed, Mia Birdsong’s The Story We Tell about Poverty Isn’t True has inspired discussion about stereotypes and preconceptions.

National Poetry Month approaches, so in its honor, and because no single TED Talk has touched my students as dramatically as this one, I end here with Sarah Kay.  (All 18 minutes are precious!  That replay arrow will be spinning.)  My list barely scratches the surface.   Video moves us to read, write, and reflect!  Thank you, TED.

4 thoughts on “Power to Enlighten”

  1. This is a good list. I haven’t seen any of these, so I am excited to check them out. Thank you for sharing with us! TED Talks are so interesting; a good way to start a weekend.

  2. I, too, am pleased with your list. Being able to “attend” TED talks is amazing, isn’t it? Think I’ll start with “Try Something New for 30 Days” since I’ve been slicing my way through March for the first time!

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