So, I've just crawled out of my cave, where I've clearly been living, to learn about TED. I'm pretty amazed it's been around for so long without my notice.
You've heard about it, no doubt. But just in case, you, too, are a cave-dweller, here's the story in brief:
At the annual TED (Technology, Entertainment, Design) conference, speakers are asked to speak about one big idea for 18 minutes. No more, no less. (I haven't yet found the reason for this specific number, so if you know, fill me in.) It started in the 80s with people who were connected to the Silicon Valley, so the ideas shared were largely about technology and design. But the concept has evolved to encompass the scope of human thought and endeavor, so the speakers now come from a huge variety of disciplines. They speak before a live audience, and then their talks are disseminated on the web. Because, as the tag line goes, they are "ideas worth spreading."
You know how once you know about something, you suddenly see it absolutely everywhere? This has been my experience with TED. They just had their 2010 conference, so it makes sense that there is an up-tick in internet traffic about it.
For example, I read about Jamie Oliver's 18 minutes on educating children about healthy food on a couple of Blogs I Love, Teacher Tom and Bakers and Astronauts. Then, a friend forwarded to me a link to Aimee Mullins stunningly great 18 minutes on making use of adversity. And then, someone on Facebook posted Sir Ken Robinson's compelling 18 minutes, in which he asks if schools kill creativity. Intrigued, I dug into the TED archives on their website, and found another education-related 18 minutes from Dave Eggers that I'd love for you to see.
18 minutes is just long enough to cover the topic, but short enough to feel like you can just sit and watch one (or two) without clearing your schedule. (By the way, the TED site seems to offer some 6-minute and even 3-minute presentations, too.)
I can tell my beautiful new relationship with TED is just getting started. What are your favorite TED talks?
A side note: the Sir Ken Robinson talk was posted by a very socially conservative Facebook friend of mine. I wasn't sure that I'd relate to a view of education that this friend agreed with enough to post in his status. As it turned out, I loved what Sir Robinson had to say, which reminded me that my sources for inspiration and growth can surprise me, and it's best for me to keep an open mind. This, I would venture to say, is what the spirit of TED is all about.