What should future schools look like? How do brains learn? Some of the world's greatest educators, researchers, and community leaders share their stories and visions onstage at the TED conference, TEDx events and partner events around the world. You can also download these and many other videos free on TED.com, with an interactive English transcript and subtitles in up to 80 languages. TED is a nonprofit devoted to Ideas Worth Spreading.
Libraries have the power to create a better world; they connect communities, promote literacy and spark lifelong learners. But there's one thing that keeps people away: the fear of overdue book fines. In this thought-provoking talk, librarian Dawn Wacek makes the case that fines don't actually do what we think they do. What if your library just stopped asking for them altogether?
After a visit to a European library in search of Arabic and Middle Eastern texts turned up only titles about fear, terrorism and destruction, Ghada Wali resolved to represent her culture in a fun, accessible way. The result: a colorful, engaging project that uses LEGO to teach Arabic script, harnessing the power of graphic design to create connection and positive change. "Effective communication and education is the road to more tolerant communities," Wali says.
Social justice belongs in our schools, says educator Sydney Chaffee. In a bold talk, she shows how teaching students to engage in activism helps them build important academic and life skills -- and asks us to rethink how we can use education to help kids find their voices. "Teaching will always be a political act," Chaffee says. "We can't be afraid of our students' power. Their power will help them make tomorrow better.
Africa's youth is coming of age rapidly, but job growth on the continent isn't keeping up. The result: financial insecurity and, in some cases, a turn towards insurgent groups. In a passionate talk, agricultural entrepreneur Kola Masha details his plan to bring leadership and investment to small farmers in Africa -- and employ a rising generation.
Jakob Magolan is here to change your perception of organic chemistry. In an accessible talk packed with striking graphics, he teaches us the basics while breaking the stereotype that organic chemistry is something to be afraid of.
What can we learn from the slimy, smelly side of life? In this playful talk, science journalist Anna Rothschild shows us the hidden wisdom of "gross stuff" and explains why avoiding the creepy underbelly of nature, medicine and technology closes us off to important sources of knowledge about our health and the world. "When we explore the gross side of life, we find insights that we never would have thought we'd find, and we even often reveal beauty that we didn't think was there," Rothschild says.
Comic books and graphic novels belong in every teacher's toolkit, says cartoonist and educator Gene Luen Yang. Set against the backdrop of his own witty, colorful drawings, Yang explores the history of comics in American education -- and reveals some unexpected insights about their potential for helping kids learn.
In 1963, Jacques Cousteau lived for 30 days in an underwater laboratory positioned on the floor of the Red Sea, and set a world record in the process. This summer, his grandson Fabien Cousteau broke that record. Cousteau the younger lived for 31 days aboard the Aquarius, an underwater research laboratory nine miles off the coast of Florida. In a charming talk he brings his wondrous adventure to life.
The Amazon River is like a heart, pumping water from the seas through it, and up into the atmosphere through 600 billion trees, which act like lungs. Clouds form, rain falls and the forest thrives. In a lyrical talk, Antonio Donato Nobre talks us through the interconnected systems of this region, and how they provide environmental services to the entire world. A parable for the extraordinary symphony that is nature.
How much do you know about the world? Hans Rosling, with his famous charts of global population, health and income data (and an extra-extra-long pointer), demonstrates that you have a high statistical chance of being quite wrong about what you think you know. Play along with his audience quiz — then, from Hans’ son Ola, learn 4 ways to quickly get less ignorant.
Why is there something instead of nothing? In other words: Why does the universe exist (and why are we in it)? Philosopher and writer Jim Holt follows this question toward three possible answers. Or four. Or none.
We spend so much time listening to the things people are saying that we rarely pay attention to the things they don't," says poet and teacher Clint Smith. A short, powerful piece from the heart, about finding the courage to speak up against ignorance and injustice.
Megan Washington is one of Australia's premier singer/songwriters. And, since childhood, she has had a stutter. In this bold and personal talk, she reveals how she copes with this speech impediment—from avoiding the letter combination “st” to tricking her brain by changing her words at the last minute to, yes, singing the things she has to say rather than speaking them.
At the online University of the People, anyone with a high school diploma can take classes toward a degree in business administration or computer science — without standard tuition fees (though exams cost money). Founder Shai Reshef hopes that higher education is changing "from being a privilege for the few to a basic right, affordable and accessible for all.
One could argue that slang words like ‘hangry,’ ‘defriend’ and ‘adorkable’ fill crucial meaning gaps in the English language, even if they don't appear in the dictionary. After all, who actually decides which words make it into those pages? Language historian Anne Curzan gives a charming look at the humans behind dictionaries, and the choices they make.
Ecologist Deborah Gordon studies ants wherever she can find them -- in the desert, in the tropics, in her kitchen In this fascinating talk, she explains her obsession with insects most of us would happily swat away without a second thought. She argues that ant life provides a useful model for learning about many other topics, including disease, technology and the human brain.
Web cartoonist Randall Munroe answers simple what-if questions ("what if you hit a baseball moving at the speed of light?") using math, physics, logic and deadpan humor. In this charming talk, a reader's question about Google's data warehouse leads Munroe down a circuitous path to a hilariously over-detailed answer — in which, shhh, you might actually learn something.
Hamish Jolly, an ocean swimmer in Australia, wanted a wetsuit that would deter a curious shark from mistaking him for a potential source of nourishment. (Which, statistically, is rare, but certainly a fate worth avoiding.) Working with a team of scientists, he and his friends came up with a fresh approach — not a shark cage, not a suit of chain-mail, but a sleek suit that taps our growing understanding of shark vision.
What do rap shows, barbershop banter and Sunday services have in common? As Christopher Emdin says, they all hold the secret magic to enthrall and teach at the same time — and it's a skill we often don't teach to educators. A longtime teacher himself, now a science advocate and cofounder of Science Genius B.A.T.T.L.E.S. with the GZA of the Wu-Tang Clan, Emdin offers a vision to make the classroom come alive.
2013 was a year of hype for MOOCs (massive open online courses). Great big numbers and great big hopes were followed by some disappointing first results. But the head of edX, Anant Agarwal, makes the case that MOOCs still matter -- as a way to share high-level learning widely and supplement (but perhaps not replace) traditional classrooms. Agarwal shares his vision of blended learning, where teachers create the ideal learning experience for 21st century students.
Math is logical, functional and just awesome. Mathemagician Arthur Benjamin explores hidden properties of that weird and wonderful set of numbers, the Fibonacci series. (And reminds you that mathematics can be inspiring, too!)
What does real scientific work look like? As neuroscientist Stuart Firestein jokes: It looks a lot less like the scientific method and a lot more like "farting around in the dark." In this witty talk, Firestein gets to the heart of science as it is really practiced and suggests that we should value what we don't know -- or "high-quality ignorance" -- just as much as what we know.
They're millions of digits long, and it takes an army of mathematicians and machines to hunt them down -- what's not to love about monster primes? Adam Spencer, comedian and lifelong math geek, shares his passion for these odd numbers, and for the mysterious magic of math.
Sir Ken Robinson outlines 3 principles crucial for the human mind to flourish -- and how current education culture works against them. In a funny, stirring talk he tells us how to get out of the educational "death valley" we now face, and how to nurture our youngest generations with a climate of possibility.
Leaving a high-flying job in consulting, Angela Lee Duckworth took a job teaching math to seventh graders in a New York public school. She quickly realized that IQ wasn't the only thing separating the successful students from those who struggled. Here, she explains her theory of "grit" as a predictor of success.
Why, why, why does our education system look so similar to the way it did 50 years ago? Millions of students were failing then, as they are now -- and it’s because we’re clinging to a business model that clearly doesn’t work. Education advocate Geoffrey Canada dares the system to look at the data, think about the customers and make systematic shifts in order to help greater numbers of kids excel.
Pearl Arredondo grew up in East Los Angeles, the daughter of a high-ranking gang member who was in and out of jail. Many teachers wrote her off as having a problem with authority. Now a teacher herself, she's creating a different kind of school and telling students her story so that they know it's okay if sometimes homework isn't the first thing on their minds.
It took a life-threatening condition to jolt chemistry teacher Ramsey Musallam out of ten years of "pseudo-teaching" to understand the true role of the educator: to cultivate curiosity. In a fun and personal talk, Musallam gives 3 rules to spark imagination and learning, and get students excited about how the world works.
Until recently, many teachers only got one word of feedback a year: "satisfactory." And with no feedback, no coaching, there's just no way to improve. Bill Gates suggests that even great teachers can get better with smart feedback -- and lays out a program from his foundation to bring it to every classroom.
For foreigners, learning to speak Chinese is a hard task. But learning to read the beautiful, often complex characters of the Chinese written language may be less difficult. ShaoLan walks through a simple lesson in recognizing the ideas behind the characters and their meaning -- building from a few simple forms to more complex concepts. Call it Chineasy.
Rita Pierson, a teacher for 40 years, once heard a colleague say, "They don't pay me to like the kids." Her response: "Kids don't learn from people they don't like.'" A rousing call to educators to believe in their students and actually connect with them on a real, human, personal level.
At age 12, Freeman Hrabowski marched with Martin Luther King. Now he's president of the University of Maryland, Baltimore County (UMBC), where he works to create an environment that helps under-represented students -- specifically African-American, Latino and low-income learners -- get degrees in math and science. He shares the four pillars of UMBC's approach.
Kakenya Ntaiya made a deal with her father: She would undergo a traditional Maasai rite of passage, female circumcision, if he would let her go to high school. Ntaiya tells the fearless story of continuing on to college, and of working with her village elders to build a school for girls in her community, changing the destiny of 125 young women.
Onstage at TED2013, Sugata Mitra makes his bold TED Prize wish: Help me design the School in the Cloud, a learning lab in India, where children can explore and learn from each other -- using resources and mentoring from the cloud. Hear his inspiring vision for Self Organized Learning Environments, and learn more at ted.com/prize.
Imagine a country where girls must sneak out to go to school, with deadly consequences if they get caught learning. This was Afghanistan under the Taliban, and traces of that danger remain today. 22-year-old Shabana Basij-Rasikh runs a school for girls in Afghanistan. She celebrates the power of a family's decision to believe in their daughters -- and tells the story of one brave father who stood up to local threats.
High school science teacher Tyler DeWitt was ecstatic about his new lesson plan on bacteria (how cool!) -- and devastated when his students hated it. The problem was the textbook: it was impossible to understand. He delivers a rousing call for science teachers to ditch the jargon and extreme precision, and instead make science sing through stories and demonstrations.
Coding isn't just for computer whizzes, says Mitch Resnick of MIT Media Lab -- it's for everyone. In a fun, demo-filled talk Resnick outlines the benefits of teaching kids to code, so they can do more than just use new tech toys but also create them.
How can you help kids get a good start? In this heartfelt and personal talk, Colin Powell, the former U.S. Secretary of State, asks parents, friends and relatives to support children, starting before they even get to primary school, through community and a strong sense of responsibility.
How do fast-paced video games affect the brain? Step into the lab with cognitive researcher Daphne Bavelier to hear surprising news about how video games, even action-packed shooter games, can help us learn, focus and, fascinatingly, multitask.
Orphanages are costly and can cause irreparable damage both mentally and physically for its charges -- so why are they still so ubiquitous? Georgette Mulheir gravely describes the tragedy of orphanages and urges us to end our reliance on them, by finding alternate ways of supporting children in need.
Faith Jegede tells the moving and funny story of growing up with her two brothers, both autistic -- and both extraordinary. In this talk from the TED Talent Search, she reminds us to pursue a life beyond what is normal.
Melissa Marshall brings a message to all scientists (from non-scientists): We're fascinated by what you're doing. So tell us about it -- in a way we can understand. In just 4 minutes, she shares powerful tips on presenting complex scientific ideas to a general audience.
Shimon Schocken and Noam Nisan developed a curriculum for their students to build a computer, piece by piece. When they put the course online -- giving away the tools, simulators, chip specifications and other building blocks -- they were surprised that thousands jumped at the opportunity to learn, working independently as well as organizing their own classes in the first Massive Open Online Course (MOOC). A call to forget about grades and tap into the self-motivation to learn.
What should a community do with its unused land? Plant food, of course. With energy and humor, Pam Warhurst tells at the TEDSalon the story of how she and a growing team of volunteers came together to turn plots of unused land into communal vegetable gardens, and to change the narrative of food in their community.
Daphne Koller is enticing top universities to put their most intriguing courses online for free -- not just as a service, but as a way to research how people learn. With Coursera (cofounded by Andrew Ng), each keystroke, quiz, peer-to-peer discussion and self-graded assignment builds an unprecedented pool of data on how knowledge is processed.
A whirlwind of energy and ideas, Stephen Ritz is a teacher in New York's tough South Bronx, where he and his kids grow lush gardens for food, greenery -- and jobs. Just try to keep up with this New York treasure as he spins through the many, many ways there are to grow hope in a neighborhood many have written off, or in your own.
Bees have been rapidly and mysteriously disappearing from rural areas, with grave implications for agriculture. But bees seem to flourish in urban environments -- and cities need their help, too. Noah Wilson-Rich suggests that urban beekeeping might play a role in revitalizing both a city and a species.
Prompted by the Encyclopaedia Britannica ending its print publication, performance poet Rives resurrects a game from his childhood. Speaking at the TEDxSummit in Doha, Rives takes us on a charming tour through random (and less random) bits of human knowledge: from Chimborazo, the farthest point from the center of the Earth, to Ham the Astrochimp, the first chimpanzee in outer space.