Educational Inspiration: TED in the Classroom

Curator's Note

At the same time as Common Core State Standards are debated and discussed throughout the country, elementary, middle, and high school humanities departments are undergoing additional challenges to their traditional teaching forms. The students making up the classroom are more diverse than ever and from a very young age children from all socioeconomic backgrounds are becoming media literate and are plugged into phones, tablets, and computers. They can often infer more from a video or animated text than a written one. In addition to attempting to incorporate a curriculum that involves more non-fiction texts (including new media), American educational departments are looking to find ways to incorporate new voices, images, and visions into staid focus on the literary classics.

One community that many teachers have turned to for inspiration on how to engage a new generation of scholars is the online intellectual community of TED. Some of the most popular videos on TED’s site include talks from inspiring teachers, and the most popular TED talk of all time deals with education explicitly, Ken Robinson’s “How schools kill creativity.” Though some of these videos are simply criticism without positive action plans, others are able to provoke teachers to recognize the need for change. A particularly popular TED Talk for teachers is Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s “The danger of a single story.” This particular talk emphasizes the importance of children being able to see themselves in what they are reading. It is valuable because in a non-threatening or accusatory way it encourages teachers to reconsider their reading material.

TED not only seeks to inspire teachers, it seeks to make a direct impact in the classroom through the program TED-Ed, whose central mission is to “capture and amplify the voice of the world’s greatest teachers.” This program, spearheaded by teachers and philanthropists such as Melinda Gates and John Hunter, encourages teachers to use TED videos as the basis for lessons while it also curates video-lessons to include quizzes, resources for further exploration, and discussion boards. These videos, and the incorporation of TEDx models of public speaking in schools, work to insure that TED remains an active voice in the online community.

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