Insights on Education from TED Conferences

September 09, 2009 1 min read

The annual Technology, Entertainment, and Design conference, known as TED brings together some of the most creative and intriguing thinkers in their fields to discuss societal problems, promising innovations, and human potential. The presentations are almost always engaging and thought-provoking. And some even touch on the topic of education, either directly or indirectly.

Thanks to @AngelaMaiers on Twitter, I found this spreadsheet with descriptions and links to all the TED talks to date. I warn you that it might lead you to spend more time than you have getting a taste of all the fascinating topics and speakers. But most of the talks are just 15 minutes, and may serve as a kind of professional development or personal enrichment.

For you ed-tech enthusiasts, there’s one by Nicholas Negroponte about the One Laptop Per Child vision, and another with Ross Lovegrove on open-source learning.

In one compelling and very funny presentation a few years ago, Creativity Expert Sir Ken Robinson laments how education systems around the world tend to educate the creative spirit out of students.

“Every education system on Earth has the same hierarchy of the top are mathematics and languages, then the humanities, and at the bottom are the arts,” he said. “The most useful subjects for work are at the top. As students you are steered away from things you like on the grounds you they will never get a job doing that. So the result is that many highly talented, brilliant, creative people think they’re not.”

Robinson argues that we need to rethink how we nurture students’ intellectual and creative capacity in order to help them thrive in a community and economy that requires innovative and out-of-the-box thinking.

“Our education system has mined our minds in the way that we’ve strip-mined the Earth: for a particular commodity,” he said, referring to the traditional skills needed for work, such as math and language. “For the future it won’t service.”

Maybe we can help each other out by watching some select videos and sharing the best. Let me know what gems you find in the archives, and I’ll do the same.

A version of this news article first appeared in the Digital Education blog.