4 Great TED Talks to Share With Your Students

Tuesday, November 5, 2013 -- Scott Sterling

By now, you’re familiar with TED talks and their format. TED, which stands for Tech, Entertainment, and Design, has grown to be a leading source of informative, short (10-15 minutes) lectures from people with “ideas worth spreading”.

Some of those ideas can even make a difference in your classroom.

To be sure, there are TED talks on almost every subject imaginable, so it’s worth browsing through their library to find talks based on your subject area. Some teachers even make TED talks a key part of a flipped classroom. What follows is a list of talks that are more appropriate for students in any discipline. Hopefully they’ll start looking at the world differently.

Jack Andraka: “A promising test for pancreatic cancer… from a teenager”

Most of the time, kids like to hear from other kids. Through persistence and creativity, Jack Andraka found a way to detect early-stage pancreatic cancer in a minimally invasive, super cheap test—and he wasn’t even 16 yet. He outlines his process, which is great subject-area info for science classes, but all students can learn something about what can be accomplished by kids.

Kiran Sethi: “Kids, Take Charge”

Kiran Sethi is the founder of the Riverside School in India, a school that is making a difference for its students not just educationally, but culturally. This talk is about the sense of independence and responsibility the school engenders in the students, which fills them with the confidence to achieve even greater things.

It’s important for our students to see that even though there are students in the world who might have less material goods than we have, they treasure their education more and to begin thinking about what’s possible for them.

Shane Koyczan: “To This Day… for the bullied and beautiful”

You might have seen Shane Koyczan’s spoken-word poem about bullying, “To This Day”, reimagined as an animated viral video. With millions of views, it’s now on heavy rotation in anti-bullying campaigns worldwide. For his TED talk, Shane retells the poem and gives some backstory to what inspired the words, all backed by a violinist.

We’ve made some big steps against bullying in the past decade or so, but any time we can bring the subject up in a positive way for our students, we owe it to them to do so.

Kathryn Schulz: “On being wrong”

Kathryn Schulz has made a career out of not only analyzing mistakes, but studying what their effects are in human psychology and how important they are in the quest for knowledge. In this talk, she presents a strong case for people to not only admit when they’re wrong, but to be proud of the fact.

Everything in our students’ lives right now seems to add up to either being right or wrong, correct or incorrect. But being wrong is an important part of learning and the kids can stand to be reminded of that.