Jeff Hoffart

Social Entrepreneur, ED-ucation Publishing


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Within learning communities, how do we educate youth about the ethos of TED and get them excited about contributing to the TEDx community?

While we organized our event at TEDxYouth@BIS this year, we found that we were marketing the idea of TED and TEDx to people who already understood and supported this ethos. We are looking for your ideas, resources, and other possible solutions to help educate and involve more youth in the TED and TEDx communities.

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    Jun 27 2012: I'm a teacher at s Sixth Form college in London and we plan to set up a TED club for our students next year. We work with students who don't always have the best opportunities but have passion and enthusiasm to learn. The plan is to show our students the talks, have discussion groups based on them but most importantly to try and put some of the ideas into action in our school community and in our wider community. We plan to take some students to a TEDx event and get them involved in that way. It would be even better if we could host a TEDx youth event. The idea is not that we educate them about TED but that TED can be incorporated into education.
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      Jun 27 2012: I love it Thomas! We had discussed starting a TED club next year as well. I would love to stay in contact with you to further discuss what that would look like, and swap ideas back and forth for resources that we could use!
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    Jun 23 2012: I wonder whether you might explore this question best by meeting with focus groups of uninvolved youth.
    Young people may have a bias toward action more than discussion, particularly those who feel they already spend a lot of time at school.. Young people often do not pay great attention to the motivational speakers at their graduations, I notice, and many TED talks may ring that way. ATEDxYouth event might draw a broader audience if the plan links it to clear, immediate opportunities for action or experience beyond networking that connect with aspirations kids already have.
    In this way you are less selling what may be perceived as intellectual/academic talks (that seem a lot like more of school) as offering something that feels like a practical add-on to their every day stuff.
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      Jun 24 2012: I definitely think you are right about the action component. Our students' talks this year focused on Sustainable Action. Students did not present just an idea, but also presented an action that they had taken already or were planning to take, which would sustain for years to come. This was highly motivating for the speakers!

      Upon reflection, I feel that something that we could have done better at our TEDx event, is get more community members who have connections with the event theme to attend. If we had more delegates and members from organizations such as United Nations, UNICEF, etc..., our students may have had a greater chance for success in making their ideas and action a larger reality.

      I guess this comes back to the initial question. We did invite members from some of these organizations, but some of the members did not even know what TED was. So, again, it comes down to the education of our communities. One resource I thought was very powerful, was an info graphic about TED and TEDx:

      Again, if you did not know what TED or TEDx were, it would not mean much. So, I am interested in further ideas and resources to enable us, and everyone, to be able to successfully make TED accessible to each and every person.
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        Jun 24 2012: In terms of attracting people from organizations involved with the theme, why not reach for participation from those who would truly welcome some actual participation from kids (to have a greater chance of making their actions and success a larger reality)? Local organizations are great for this, because even the very young can participate fruitfully with adult supervision in adopt a street or adopt a park activities. For the kids this might seem just as important as the UN but more importantly, local service SHOULD feel important to them.

        UNICEF has excellent material online, bu the way, that is focused at kids and what kids can do. You probably know this:)

        If you are thinking about grade school kids in your area, why not see if you can get on the agenda at a district teacher training and present a small packet of child appropriate talks on various subjects with examples of how you have used them in your classroom? Another thing that can grab a teacher's interest, perhaps, is a list of well known people and their talks- people kids might predictably want to hear from?

        On a smaller level, how about a staff meeting at your school to present that?

        Sometimes the personal touch, one teacher to another, is the way to go.

        I hadn't realized when I first replied to you that you were talking about grade school kids. I assumed you meant high school kids, for whom almost all the talks would be appropriate.
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      Jun 24 2012: Hi Fritzie, I really like your idea for focus groups. I agree that youth look at life through a different lens than adults and it is impossible to access that viewpoint without delving into their minds a bit. Mostly, the youth we work with are tech savvy and I can't help but wonder if there isn't something more we could do beyond Facebook, Twitter and other social media to hook young people? I think you have provided a great idea for organizers to work WITH students to have them part of the process via focus groups and thus become inherently invested in the outcome. But I wonder if any other TEDxers out there have actual resources they have used for the expressed purpose of spreading the ethos of TEDx to their communities...
  • Jun 26 2012: Myers-Briggs did a good job breaking doen personalities. There are of course other systems.
    I once worked with a man who had a poster in his office. Don't try to teach a pig to sing.
    It doesn't work , and it only irritates the pig. This was not one of my favorite people, and he showed
    some of these tendacies. Use judgment.
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      Jun 26 2012: I grew up staring at a poster of a cat hanging from a branch, with the caption: "Hang in there". I think this was a fairly common poster in classrooms, at least across Canada. I discussed this with a colleague of mine, and we talked about the implication of high school simply being an act of survival, just "hanging in there" day by day, until it was over.

      Although most of the teachers that I had growing up shared this mentality in their pedagogy and instructional approach, I was lucky enough to have a few teachers that pushed us to be active participants in class and in life, rather than simply "hanging in there". The common denominator between these educators is that they had high expectations of us, and believed in us.

      I do my best to model this same behavior with my students and my fellow teachers. I agree that we should not force TED on people, and "try to teach a pig to sing". But, if we believe in the pig, and encourage it to reach towards the expectation of dancing and acting, then perhaps it will choose to sing on its own.
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    Jun 25 2012: Whether we like it or not, whether we acknowledge it or not= young people learn from what we actually do and live in every circumstance. We sow their future and thus our own in our every action anf they are keen and unrelenting observer who are brutally honest. So, to me the answer to your question is that youth learn from us but it is never the lesson we think it is.
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      Jun 25 2012: Spot on Debra! I am currently working with a colleague of mine to create a curriculum that focuses on how students can successfully take sustainable action. You can check it out here:

      One of the biggest components of this is teacher modeling. If we, as educators, or parents, do not model these behaviors, or these actions ourselves, then students may never develop these understandings. It really puts a spotlight on the fact that a great teacher, parent, person, is more about who they are, rather than what they know.
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      Jun 25 2012: Debra, you are correct or "spot on" as Jeff said, but often teachers (esp. newer ones) do not realize this....which brings up the question: Should teachers have higher standards/morals than other professions (which is another topic in itself). I would like to add, though, it is not only our actions and how we live, but also what we say. It is amazing to be that when former students find me on FB, they usually like to tell me that what I said about_____ (fill in the blank) was SO true; or they will write: Remember when you said _____ even though it was DECADES ago. And after I read these notes, I am like WOW... I hadn't realized the impact I had before and HOPED I hadn't led anyone astray with my "bad self". LOL
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        Jun 25 2012: Linda, as always I love your introspective consideration of what is said. I think that a partial answer to the question you raised is that EVERYONE who is able needs to be more mindful of the impact they are having. I wished that were the case professionally and in parenting for my ex spouce a cop, and for many others. We tend to think that it is 'just human' to be far easier on ourselves and take the rules to the 'nth' degree for others. Weird and unproductive.
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    Jun 23 2012: Hey Tosca. Many people may not have iPads, so will be unable to view the eBook you posted. I know there is also a PDF version, which anyone is able to download or view, available at:

    I know that many people view TED as an elite organization. How do we make it more accessible to all?
  • Jun 27 2012: Of course, for you or me what you are saying is true. I am an INTJ. I enjoyed school, but not
    everyone does. Especially, I enjoyed the physical sciences and mathematics. I hit my ceiling as
    a graduate student in physics. In Law school, I enjoed tha business related courses. My best grade
    was in estate planning. Getting my MBA I most enjkoyed statistics and such things. What am I saying,
    well it's best shown by a combination of aptitude and interests. I would suggest Keirsey's
    You Don't Understand Me edition no.1
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      Jun 27 2012: Some ancient piece of wrting (which I cannot curently pinpoint) says that we should seek to understand rather than to be understood. Most of us, most especially me, are quite good at seeking to be understood already- we do not need more practice in that.
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    Jun 25 2012: In addition to the last post about "flipped teaching" and the "flipped classroom", I found an interesting article written on Washington Post:

    In my last post, I mentioned: "Perhaps the way to get teachers to use TED-Ed is more about educating them about the instructional model or theoretical framework of a flipped classroom learning environment.".

    But, I do believe there is some truth to the concerns mentioned in this article:
    -How many subjects are really appropriate for this technique?
    -How does it work for students who don’t have computers at home to watch videos or who live in chaotic conditions that make it impossible to absorb new material?
    -What about teachers who deliver inspiring classroom presentations?
    -Won’t students lose something if those lessons are put on video?

    What are your thoughts?
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    Jun 25 2012: I love your insight and perspective Fritzie. I am re-thinking what I said now. Perhaps the marketing point is not so much focused on the concepts of "differentiation" and "individualization", but more on the concept of a "flipped classroom". Essentially, this is a newer concept that is more recently being understood in the discipline of teaching. I found a great infographic that unrolls this:

    Perhaps the way to get teachers to use TED-Ed is more about educating them about the instructional model or theoretical framework of a flipped classroom learning environment. Perhaps I was trying to begin at the finish line?
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    Jun 25 2012: Thank you Linda for your ideas!

    I have taught within Canada's system, as well as within the International setting in Taiwan, Asia, and now in Germany, Europe. I do believe that many see TED as an additional resource or group or organization. This is very similar to the mentality that we used to teach technology in complete isolation to other subjects. Now, we see that technology is a tool or a vehicle that is integrated in and across all subject areas. This is how I feel about TED. I think it is a perspective and mentality that needs to shift, and this may take some time.

    I do respectfully disagree with "TED is not for everyone". I do think that there can be different levels of involvement. But, that is similar to saying that Education is not for everyone or Inspiration is not for everyone. One of the purposes of this conversation, is to try to come up with ideas and resources to successfully disprove this statement. I don't have the answers myself, but I do think that, if we all work together, we can find a way to more successfully integrate inspiring ideas within our teaching, rather than "add it on".

    I am currently teaching in the upper primary, as a Grade 5 teacher. We held a TEDx event this year, with 17 youth speakers, 12 of which came from Grade 5. Their ideas and action were amazing! You can check out their videos here: I would highly recommend Kate or Shivani's talks to get started.

    Next year, we are beginning to hand over the responsibility of organizing our event to our Youth Organizers, who are in Grades 6-7. In the coming years, we are aiming for a similar goal to TEDxYouth@Tokyo, which is completely organized and managed by youth.
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      Jun 25 2012: Jeff, what I meant is that TED is not for everyone is that some students just cannot sit and listen to talks if they are of any length and have no visuals (like someone had written about graduation speeches), nor are they interested in learning things or taking any type of action.... at least that is what I have come across in my classroom.

      And about your Grade 5 event, it was impressive. It did help that the speakers were from their own age group, as I was thinking they were mainly adults. We tend to think that youngins' have nothing to say/contribute, but that is NOT true at all (look at Jack Andraka who would be a GREAT speaker) . I wish a "fire" would be lit under some of our students here in my county to do something like this. Good luck to you with the venture.
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        Jun 25 2012: You are definitely right. It is really tough for younger kids to connect to some of the big issues addressed on TED, and many talks are far too long to hold the attention of younger students. It has definitely pushed me to be very selective in the talks that I show in class. Linda, what are your feelings and perspective on TED-Ed? Have you had a chance to use this in your class? If so, do you feel there is something else TED-Ed could do to make it even more accessible for younger students?

        I think that in order to instill the ethos of TED within our students and to enable them to take action, teachers need to explicitly teach the skills necessary for students to be able to do so successfully. I have recently conducted an action research paper with a few colleagues of mine that focused on the skills necessary for taking action. We created a Phase Document, which includes the skills to be taught, and created a website that gives teachers the resources necessary to implement and unroll this document:

        I would love your feedback on this, and if you have some suggestions for what you think we could add or modify to help drive this initiative forward.
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          Jun 25 2012: Jeff, I have to admit that I only heard of TEDed a few months ago, and it was right before I retired in March, so I never did get to use it (but I sent the link to my dept. chair). What I saw though, looked pretty good for me in English, but the way we have our curriculum/grading set up that addresses mainly core standards, FCAT testing, and grading per a "proficiency" model, it would be hard to incorporate what the program offers except once "in a blue moon". :-(

          The link you shared looked interesting, but first, for it to come to total fruition, students and teachers would all have to have technology (and some advanced) which would definitely be the "have's vs. the have not's". How would that issue be addressed?? I will also need to look at it more in depth and to get my MINDSET out of our American system. Grrrr.... For me personally, my last "attempt" at getting my students to be involved in the world and to try to take any sort of action, I had my 11th graders do a research paper on a human rights violation; they were to then come up with an action plan and present it to the class, but I left before the project was finished, and the teacher who replaced me didn't follow through with what I expected. I think that you are definitely going in the right direction, esp. in getting the younger students to see that there is a world outside of where they live and that their actions can help to better both. Kudos to you. :-)
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    Jun 25 2012: Jeff, are you just referring to students in Germany?? Just wondering as even though "kids may be kids" for the most part no matter where they live, their school systems and their lives are not. Many American kids are either just too busy due to extra-curricular activities and/or working usually to support their car. And when you add in all this inane testing, apathy in regards to learning of so many, and the vastness of this country, I do not see it happening as much as in the smaller European countries. See... we look at education differently here as well as what it is to be a teenager (for better or worse). I think too, that for many here, another net "social group" is almost overwhelming, esp. if one would actually have to leave their house to get something going as many just don't want to leave their computer screens.grrrr....

    I know the TEDxYouth in Serbia is quite active, and when I am there next year, I hope I can help out with the group. What they do is have meetings at The American Corners across the country. Do you have those there? Also, when I go, I am going to try to have them work more with Junior Achievement of Serbia. We still must keep in mind, though, that not everyone has a computer, so it is limiting in a way.

    But with that said, on a personal note, I have used many TED talks in my American lit class which ranged from the informative to the entertaining to the moving, with some students even becoming "Tedsters" themselves before the youth movement came to be. But like someone said, TED is not for everyone (sadly), no matter what the topic as I found out.

    You are right, though, that TED can reach a multitude of students who have a multitude of different intelligences and learning styles, and now with TEDed, the possibilities are even greater that this group can change lives. BUT if you are just talking about primary grades, to be honest, I am not too sure TED is really for them?

    Good luck to you in your quest :-)
  • Jun 24 2012: Ted is a neat idea. One either gets it,or they don't. Tell them "Would you like to find honors
    program trype talks on the net? That's" Then you'll get Great or boring or why.
    That's all. If you're the kind of person who can appreciate ted You know they've got all
    you can give.
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      Jun 24 2012: Hi George,

      Initially, my reaction was very similar. But, upon reflection, I realized that this is the reason why others have labeled TED as some sort of an elite group. I am interested in having TED accessible to all, including my primary students.

      As a teacher, I could not introduce topics (e.g. multiplication, the writing process, how to be an inquirer and ask good questions) and expect that students either get it or they don't. My career depends on me to find alternate methods and ways to ensure all learners experience success. I feel there is a need for education, not only of students, but of parents, teachers, entire communities.

      I feel that every teacher should be using TED-Ed in their classrooms...but they're not. So, how do we get them to? What is it that is holding students, or teachers, or anyone back from using, experiencing, and contributing to TED, when we know it is such a great resource/organization/community?

      I feel that this is the question we need to answer. My Co-organizer and I felt that part of it, was that everyone learns in a different way. That the world is made up of a diverse set of learners with multiple intelligences. We needed to change how we "marketed" what TED was by choosing some of the shorter videos to share with students and our learning community, by making an eBook that used simplistic language, built-in quizzes, and videos of youth success stories on TED.

      Although we made large steps in our mission to further educate and spread the ideas of TED, we are still looking for further ideas and resources to enable us, and everyone, to be able to successfully make TED accessible to each and every person.
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        Jun 24 2012: Jeff, you mention that not every teacher is using TED-Ed in the classroom but should. As you puzzle over this situation, you might want also to read an article that appeared within the last three weeks in the Chronicle of Higher Education that argues the opposing viewpoint- that TED (or maybe TED-Ed, I can't remember) is not very well suited for the classroom. I have no link to it, but how hard can it be to find?
        I think when you find people are not doing something, they may be uninformed or they may have a reason that rings true to them. I think it is always instructive to become familiar with opposing views.
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          Jun 25 2012: I completely agree Fritzie. We must always have an understanding of opposing views, dialectical standpoints and alternate perspectives.

          In the last decade, it has been more and more abundantly clear that Education needs to focus on the learner, and the learner's diverse needs, in order to be successful. Terms such as "personalized education" and "differentiation" often come up, and this is what TED-Ed allows you to do.

          I feel that I am quite tech-savvy, but I am also very careful in which technology I use to enhance learning in my classroom. I view TED-Ed as a tool for teachers (specifically the flipping lessons component), as it is a way in which we can choose appropriate information for our students, and personalize it to our local class setting and lessons by adding applicable questions and links to go further.

          I don't see it as: "Hey, there is a new technology! We should try it out!" I see it as the reverse. We, as teachers, are expected to / and need to, differentiate and personalize education in order to be successful - and someone has made a resource tailor-made to educators to help us do that....this is what I would like educators to consider.

          TED-Ed is not an "extra". It is a vehicle that helps to drive the learning in our classes forward. If this is accurate, or close to, then why are there so few educators actually using TED-Ed regularly? (This is based on my communications with multiple schools). I do understand it is very new, but how do we educate these educators to begin to use this in their classrooms?
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        Jun 25 2012: As you wrote, Jeff, the concepts of a learner-focused classroom, of individualizing, of differentiating... have been understood in the discipline of teaching for a very long time. Dedicated teachers have over the years developed their own ways of serving students in this way and excellent strategies, curriculum materials, and resources have been promoted and adopted for the purpose.
        New options keep popping up, in fact. Then selling TED-Ed cannot be done simply by talking about learning-centered classrooms and differentiation. That's a little bit like trying to sell someone a new car by saying he can use it as transportation to get to work or to go to the mountains for recreation.
        Marketing then becomes identifying what a particular educational technology can do as an addition to or as a superior replacement for whatever tools and strategies the teacher already uses in her learner centered, individualized, differentiated classroom.
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    Jun 23 2012: One resource we created to help inspire others to take action and get involved with TED, TEDx, and TED Ed was an ebook for free download: this helped encourage others who had no knowledge of TED to quickly get on board. However, I am interested how others around the world 'sell' the idea of TED and TEDx within their communities. I would love to hear and see the creative solutions the TED community has for this.