Top 20 Inspirational TED Talks for Your Students
A frank confession to begin: I’m late to the whole TED Talks trend. Occasionally, I’ll turn on NPR and catch a quick snippet of an interesting talk, but for the most part, I’ve been ignorant to what a great learning tool TED Talks videos can be. Not only are they incredibly educational, they are also relevant to today’s current events and accessible to today’s digital natives.
With all this great content available in an instant, teachers should think about implementing TED Talks into the classroom. They can be used as lectures in the flipped classroom model, to supplement a dry textbook reading or to inspire creativity in students. We’ve come up with 20 TED Talks videos to get teachers started.
20 Inspirational TED Talks:
1. What’s So Sexy About Math? by Cedric Villani
This humorous yet informative talk aims to not only get learners excited about Math, but to break down some of the incredibly intuitive ways in which it can be applied. It also takes complex mathematical theories and makes them relevant to the digital native.
2. How We’ll Find Life On Other Planets by Aomawa Shields
This talk gets us looking to the stars again. It attempts to recreate some of that wonder and awe not seen since the space race of the 1950s. In it, Shields takes difficult concepts and makes them digestible. What was once relegated to science fiction fanatics is relatable to anyone with a curious mind, thanks to Shields.
3. The Gospel of Doubt by Casey Gerald
Impactful and poignant, Casey Gerald covers the range of his personal experiences from childhood to adulthood in a humorous and poetic way. Gerald expounds the need for us to question everything and expresses his belief that compassion can save lives.
4. Poetry That Frees the Soul by Christina Domenech
This one is in Spanish, but no need to worry because it has subtitles. However, the emotion Christina Domenech displays in her talk about the liberating aspects of poetry hardly needs them. In the talk, she discusses in detail her participation in a poetry workshop held for prisoners. The talk reaches an emotional crescendo when she has one of the participants read his poem.
5. The Power of Believing That You Can Improve by Carol Dweck
This is a talk that every student needs to watch. Carol Dweck discusses the damage done by stigmatizing the “wrong answer,” and how instilling this type of mindset in students causes them to run from difficult tasks rather than overcome them.
6. The Leaders Who Ruined Africa by Fred Swaniker
This is an incredibly informative TED Talk about the role good leadership can play in a society. Beyond merely explaining the benefits of good leadership, Swaniker goes a long way towards dispelling common misconceptions about Africa, its problems and its importance to the global economy.
7. My Daughter Malala by Ziauddin Yousafzai
An inspirational and emotional account of the problems facing women in patriarchal societies, Ziauddin Yousafzai recounts his daughter Malala‘s early childhood years and fight for education, as well as her victimization by the Taliban and subsequent recovery.
8. How to Raise A Black Son in America by Clint Smith
Clint Smith is candid yet incredibly sincere in his confrontation of the harsh truths about being black in America. This brutally honest talk is a must-watch for any student, regardless of race.
9. The Pursuit of Ignorance by Stuart Firestein
A humorous talk about the virtues of ignorance, neuroscientist Stuart Firestein strips away the prestige from science and brings it back to a single basic principle: the pursuit of what we don’t know. Filled with great quotes from great people, “The Pursuit of Ignorance” challenges traditional education conventions and attempts to light a fire in future generations.
10. What Adults Can Learn From Kids by Adora Svitak
This empowering TED Talk from child prodigy Adora Svitak should appeal to students. In less than seven minutes, Svitak succinctly explores the contributions children have made to society as well as the benefits of childish thinking.
11. Do Schools Kill Creativity? by Sir Ken Robinson
Funny yet spot on, this laugh out loud TED Talk by Sir Ken Robinson tackles the very real issue of students being educated out of their creativity. It is an affirmation of the value of creativity at a time when standardized test scores seem to be the only standard our nations care about.
12. Why We Have Too Few Women Leaders by Sheryl Sandberg
Both boys and girls need to be aware of the challenges facing women in the workplace. This talk does a great job educating both sexes to the bias women face and the impact this bias has on professional opportunities.
13. How to Bridge the Digital Divide by Aleph Molinari
A great TED Talk for getting your students to think more responsibly about the technology they use, Aleph Molini breaks down the digital divide and the importance technology plays in everyday life. He places his emphasis not on entertainment, but on education and how digital technology can be fuel for innovation and a better world.
14. Turning Trash into Toys For Learning by Arvind Gupta
Arvind Gupta will entertain and astound students with his simple yet ingenious logic. Using toys made from trash, he preaches the benefits of active learning and explains the educational principles behind them.
15. A Performance of “Mathemagic” by Arthur Benjamin
Arthur Benjamin offers an entertaining look into the mind of a mathematician. All too often, math is thought of as a tedious and difficult subject. And while this talk might not change the reality that math can be difficult, it does a good job of showcasing its more fun applications.
16. Don’t Kill Your Language by Suzanne Talhouk
It’s no secret that being bilingual is beneficial. This talk by Suzanne Talhouk focuses on the social aspects and power of language. It is an inspiring call to embrace our native languages and an indictment of xenophobia and cultural superiority. This talk is in Arabic with English subtitles
17. The Beauty of Human Skin in Every Color by Angélica Dass
This inspirational Ted Talk by Angélica Dass challenges the concepts of skin color and ethnic identity. The sincerity with which Dass’ message is delivered encourages acceptance and promotes positive self-image.
18. Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance by Angela Lee Duckworth
Angela Lee Duckworth expounds the benefits of grit. Building on the fundamentals of growth mindset put forth by Carol Dweck, Lee Duckworth emphasizes the importance of developing ambitious and tenacious learners over those with just high IQs.
19. Let’s Teach Kids to Code by Mitch Resnick
There is currently a heated debate about who should fund computer science in America’s public schools. Regardless of where the money comes from, it is clear that this knowledge will be necessary for students going forward. In his TED Talk, Mitch Resnick outlines the reasons why coding is necessary, and how this knowledge gives students the tools to shape the future.
20. Music is Medicine, Music is Sanity by Robert Gupta
There is a tendency in education to move further away from the arts. This manifests itself today in the form of budget cuts where the arts are usually the first to go. In his TED Talk, Robert Gupta relates the anecdote of a violin lesson he gave to a schizophrenic, and through it, offers an affirmation of music and its ability to heal.
So now that we’ve highlighted the most inspiring TED Talks, what’s the best way to expose students to them? With LiveTiles Mosaic, integrating TED Talks into your digital classroom is as easy as dragging the designated TED Talks tile wherever you’d like on the page. Whether you feel it would go better next to the social media tile to facilitate sharing and discussion or next to the video tile so that students can quickly look up supplementary materials, Mosaic gives you complete control over your digital classroom design.
Free to any K-12 class with an Office 365 tenant, Mosaic is a user-friendly UI design that will engage students and make teachers more productive. Perhaps the biggest advantage is that the digital classroom Mosaic creates is mobile-friendly, which means that students can bring their own devices to school and access learning materials like TED Talks at home. As the screen shot below illustrates, the digital classroom can be personalized to suit a class’ specific needs.
Today’s students want to be inspired, and these brief talks about the world’s most fascinating subjects are bound to stimulate endless discussion. TED Talks videos have a place in the classroom, and teachers would be wise to take advantage of them.