In search of inspiration or hard-won strategies for improving student learning? A 10-minute video may hold some answers for educators. TED Talks are short, informative, and often eye-opening talks given by leaders in their fields addressing all kinds of challenges. Many TED Talks are given by leading educators, or at least have important messages related to the field of education. Get fired up about teaching in the following 10 recent TED Talks for educators, posted in 2015 and 2016:
1. 4 reasons to learn a new language, John McWhorter
Math, English, science, history: these often represent the core subjects students are taught in grade school. But John McWhorter makes a persuasive argument for adding foreign languages to the list. The linguist and Columbia professor outlines four huge benefits that students — or anyone willing to learn — will reap when they learn a new language. From highlighting the delight in learning a “funny sounding” language to revealing the incredible effects language learning has on warding off certain medical conditions, McWhorter’s TED talk is a powerful reminder of the importance of words, no matter what language they’re spoken in.
2. How Argentina’s blind soccer team became champions, Gonzalo Vilariño
For many students, mastering a tough school subject can seem like an impossible challenge. If your classroom is in need of a pep talk, share this captivating true story from lawyer and coach Gonzalo Vilariño’s TED Talk. Vilariño outlines the improbable success of Argentina’s blind soccer team, who went on to become two-time world champs, thanks to their determination and fierce belief in their own abilities.
3. How to fix a broken school? Lead fearlessly, love hard, Linda Cliatt-Wayman
Sometimes educators need a pep talk, too! Linda Cliatt-Wayman certainly delivers, recounting the obstacles she faced as principal of a failing high school in North Philadelphia. Determined to turn her school around, she faced her challenges with clear eyes, and she never stopped loving her students along the way. In her TED Talk, the inspirational principal shares the three strategies she used to rid her school of its “low-performing and persistently dangerous” label.
4. Help for kids the education system ignores, Victor Rios
Having grown up in the inner city, Victor Rios knows what it’s like to be an “at-risk” student, and how that label defines what kids lack. Rios argues that it’s time to define kids who’ve experienced difficult upbringings by what they contribute, instead. Watch the author’s passionate TED Talk to learn what strategies educators can use to shift their mindsets about what “at-risk” students are capable of achieving.
5. The best kindergarten you’ve ever seen, Takaharu Tezuka
Every educator knows that a child’s learning environment affects learning itself. This is why teachers work so hard to make their classrooms warm, welcoming spaces for their students to thrive in. Architect Takaharu Tezuka takes this principle a step further with one very special kindergarten class in Tokyo. In his charming TED Talk, Tezuka shares his design process for creating a kindergarten that fosters creativity and lets children’s imaginations soar to new heights.
6. For these women, reading is a daring act, Laura Boushnak
Sometimes, students lose sight of the importance of education and what a privilege being able to get an education is in the first place. Photographer and TED Fellow Laura Boushnak’s TED Talk reminds us all that in many regions around the world, literacy is a privilege that few get to enjoy, especially women. Her talk takes us to countries like Yemen, Egypt, and Tunisia so we can “meet” the brave women and girls fighting for the privilege of cracking open a book.
7. What’s so sexy about math?, Cédric Villani
Perhaps no other school topic has been the subject of as much student ire as math. If you’re an educator searching for a way to make math seem “cool” to your students, share this TED Talk by mathematician Cédric Villani with them. Villani highlights the drama of math and how understanding mathematical concepts can help us make sense of the world around us in astounding ways.
8. Why some of us don’t have one true calling, Emilie Wapnick
At some point, every student has to answer the question, “So what do you want to be when you grow up?” The truth is, some students will struggle to answer this question their entire lives. Artist and writer Emilie Wapnick shares a TED Talk on “multipotentialities,” people with varied interests and skills that don’t lead clearly to one lifelong career. This talk is a good reminder for educators that many students can’t be funneled toward one particular path, and that’s okay.
9. How students of color confront imposter syndrome, Dena Simmons
Many high-achieving students of color struggle with feeling like they don’t belong, as if they were “imposters” in an accelerated classroom. As a high-achieving student of color who grew up in the Bronx, Dena Simmons can relate all too well to that feeling of not belonging. In her eye-opening TED Talk, the inspiring educator shares why we must make classrooms welcoming for all students, and how to do it.
10. How to fix a broken education system … without spending anymore money, Seema Bansal
Education innovator Seema Bansal set a lofty goal for improving the education system in her native India: by 2020, 80% of students should be on grade level. To achieve that goal, Bansal and her team have implemented creative and budget-conscious solutions and strategies for improving engagement and communication in schools. Any educator can benefit from Bansal’s innovative approach to improving learning.
Want to watch more inspiring TED Talks about education? Check out this article from Edudemic.com highlighting the 10 best TED Talks for educators from 2014.