Jared Tompkins

Researcher, Auburn University

This conversation is closed.

What about TED-based clubs in schools? TED-based classes?

TED is an incredible concept. It is intelligent, innovative, and gives rise to some amazing ideas. The central idea of TED - the proposition of an idea worth spreading, and intelligent discussion to improve it - is something that can be applied to every part of our lives, but often the most important part of life is the younger years of primary and secondary education. Why not take the TED ideal and apply it to our schools?

I am a high school student, in the 12th grade, and TED has changed my life. I propose to the TED community this idea: the formation of school clubs (or similar groups) focused around TED that eventually transform into dedicated classes; instead of a traditional class, it would consist of the exhibition of an idea that the students and teacher then discuss.

TEDtalks, TEDconversations, even comment discussions about the talks could generate the initial idea; the class would spend the entire period discussing it, trying to improve upon it, finding ways to let it affect their lives for the better.

That's my idea (indeed, I intend to actually do this at my school), and I'm presenting it to the TED community to ask for ideas, suggestions, and discussion of the implications of this idea.

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    Mar 4 2011: Building on some of the comments I have read below, I agree this is a great idea. Having a teacher act more as a facilitator of a group curation process would be my suggestion. A club could start by members sharing their favorite talks with the whole group. The group would then undergo a narrowing process where this initial pool of favorite talks/ideas is refined to be a smaller number of favorite talks and then refined again until the group decides on one or two talks/ideas that it will focus on building and acting on over the course of the school year. By doing this, you can engage in the rich dialogue that TEDTalks incite, but also you move towards the deeper purpose of TED, moving from ideas to doing, like Samuel Eddy points to. This becomes a TED Action club instead of a TED dialogue club. Both have value, this is just my suggestion.

    Keep following your passion Jared, its beautiful.
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    Mar 9 2011: Excellent idea

    here are some photos from this morning, where I was helping another parent do an enterprise leadership workshop
    where we used two TED videos (Sivers the Dancing guy, and Richard St John on Success.


    If it can work with 11 year olds in Cracow Poland, why not in your school.

    Some ideas

    Get school alumni and parents involved,
    Do an appeal on your school web site, alumni mag and school newsletter.
    like this.

    I blogged about it here

    and now we are running a competition as part of Global Entreprenuership Week where kids can win prizes for tracking down and interviewing their school alumni who have set up businesses. The web site is in Polish but if you want to copy it I'll send you more details

    Pick a theme. appeal for parents, alumni who have some practical experience.

    Ask your school director if you can show a TED talk at some school event.

    Ask directors of nearby schools if you can appeal to them to do an inter school event, like a Flash Mob with dance schools, like http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VQ3d3KigPQM

    Find other schools world wide and do Skype link ups.

    Find partners people running causes you like and work with them.
    For example invite in local crime prevention, drug abuse centres, people who work with criminals and put them on a panel

    for example invite in your local Toastmasters, Humanists Atheists, Islamists Christians, people who don't normally meet and then show one Christian TED talk Billy Graham, one anti etc etc

    Get an energy consultant to advise on making the school more eco friendly.

    Do internet TV live streaming
    Good luck, and congrats
    Richard Lucas
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      Mar 9 2011: Wow, thanks for the informative response! This is a lot of information that will be really helpful to me, and to anyone looking to start a club of their own.
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    Mar 4 2011: I love this idea!! When I was in school we had GATE but it was not enough... I always wanted something more evoking, more entangled--- Personally I think there should be a TED talk everyday at schools
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    Mar 3 2011: Thank you all for the discussion! I've analyzed the discussions here on this conversation to date, spoken to some TED-interested people at my school (students and teachers), and I've spoken to a TEDx organizer in my area.

    I've thought of a way to improve the idea. My purpose was always for the TED club to grow from a casual club into a regular, dedicated discussion, but now I'm thinking bigger. I'd like the club to become integrated with a TEDx event nearby! Whether it's a webcast, a club field trip, or even having students give talks, I want the TED club to be a part of the global TED community. My hope for the (distant) future is that the club grows into a real, dedicated TEDx event itself! The school would make a great venue, there would already be a guaranteed crowd of thinking attendees, and I think that it could become a great thing.
  • Mar 2 2011: All the folks who have commented on this post,

    We here in Chennai have just coined a word for this TEDucation!! As Chief Coordiantor of TEDxChennai I have been evengalising TED in Colleges and schools in Chennai with dramatic results .This is as simple as organising TEdxevents in schools and colleges. I have also been mentoring these TEDx events .I now propose to start screening TED talks everywhere .In fact we have even started screening TED talks in our church and Ideas worth spreading are spreading everywhere. Now the TEDx in a box will also help us spread the TEDucation in the rural areas!!


    Samuel Eddy

    P,S. Must talk to Chris and Laura about copywriting the word!!!!LOL.
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    Mar 2 2011: Jared - I think your idea is great - and you can think about something else as well:

    TED talks get you all fired up, which is great. What would make it perfect is if you can translate that energy into a lasting impact. By that I mean after watching a TED talk, or a few of them, get the people who attend to go do something related to that.

    It takes more homework on your part, because you need to facilitate and have a bit more structure, but it would help generate ideas. It won't just be another (albeit an exciting) social. So for example, if you've watched the Ken Robinson talks - then bring in a few ideas on how you can make small incremental changes in your school and facilitate a discussion. Eventually, participants will probably also bring in their ideas. And go do something with it.

    Bringing TED talks to the world is a great thing on the TED website - it will be phenomenal when we create an entire TED spirit of making the changes. You've already started it - keep it growing!
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      Mar 2 2011: I love your idea of watching talks within a group, then discussing what you could do about it and finally also doing something about it.
      Thumbs up!
  • Feb 28 2011: Well, I think TED is the most creative platform around the world, and its community is powerful, too.

    Like you, I'm high school student, and some students are familiar to watch TEDtalk. Even I found TEDtalk in classroom! But... that's all. No progress are created. I think they don't have an idea for share in groups.

    I currently organize my own TEDx event, unfortunately I'm not focused on my school, but broader area. Maybe you can organize TEDx event in your school, sharing TEDtalks, and their own ideas. That will be a solution you want to discover.

    Have fun with TED :-)
  • Mar 12 2011: At my institute, we've a functioning TEDx society - students gather once a month to watch TEDTalks and discuss in small groups. I'm also currently working on a TED module, that would allow students to take up a course where they watch TEDTalks for creative writing and presentation skills. Moreover, I'm happy to report that since November 2009, more and more students have taken to sharing TEDTalks with their classmates for subjects ranging from Forensic Psychology, to Ted Hughe's poetry, to Quantum Mechanics and Economics. I believe there is great potential here.
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    Mar 8 2011: Absolutely #*&^%$ Fantastic idea!!!!!

    There are so many talks I have had the pleasure of viewing only to think afterwards; "if only we learnt this is grade school, where would we be now? Would the world be as it is today?
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    Mar 7 2011: A terrific idea. I would fully support this in my school system and believe TED talks could be replicated by these organizations. Students could invite speakers to conduct talks and video-casts could be replayed on school district websites.
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    Mar 7 2011: Wonderful post Jared. If we could somehow combine Khan Academy, TED Talks, TEDx, and TED Conversations we could end up with a model for extending modern humanities in the classroom by creating a truly a global conversation that integrates students, teachers, thought leaders and the TED community at large. I for one would be excited to study in that environment!

    Thank you for posting this great question/idea!
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    Mar 7 2011: I think this is an excellent idea! I am currently a junior in college and was recently introduce to TED and it has now become a daily routine to watch videos and view discussions on TED. This website has helped stimulate my mind and allowed me to also engage others in conversation about "ideas worth spreading"!

    I have been viewing your comments and suggestions and will take them into consideration when organizing a Ted Club or Society. I strongly believe this will get many people involved and engaged in our community and society and help people start to actually "think". It's amazing how I haven't even known about TED for more than a month and already hooked! I would love to hear more suggestions. Hopefully, if one does get started at my college we can have some local sponsors to help us have live webcasts.

    I'm new to this so your thoughts and suggestions are appreciated! Thanks!
  • Mar 6 2011: Jared,

    I first heard about TED in 2008 when I was in college. I was so inspired by the TEDTalks that I watched online that I would share them via Facebook or emailing to classmates or friends.

    However, I sought to share them more widely to promote TED. I organized weekly TEDTalks viewing parties in my college dorm for the students and curated the events leading brief discussions after each video. My supervisor, a PhD student at my university, became quite interested in TED and offered an honors seminar course centered around the idea of TED Talks. At the beginning of the semester, the students would watch select TED Talks, and then throughout the semester, each student would offer their own TED Talk.

    My sister, a teacher, has shown TED Talks in her classroom for enrichment activities as well after I shared TED Talks with her.

    I think you've tapped onto a very powerful idea, and I hope you can help carry this vision further. Good luck!
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    Mar 6 2011: Jarred, I love your idea and without a doubt I know you will be successful at this. I can only wish I had this when I was in school. Once you ground your roots I hope you plant seeds in other school districts because in the spirit of TED: this IS an idea worth spreading. All the best and keep us posted (blog? TEDx?). Cheers. 
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    Mar 6 2011: I love it because so many TEDTalks go beyond (and across) disciplines. It would be a nice break from the subject-specific day most students go through.
  • Mar 6 2011: I think that this would be a great addition to the school day. I woud think that when it came to developing the ideas in lesson time, some of the time currently devoted to things such as 'wellbeing' could be better utilised in this way. As Sir Ken Robinson says, 'bring on the learning revolution! ' The very best of luck to you in your efforts!
  • Mar 5 2011: Terrific idea! The interaction of students/teachers and even other students & teachers from other schools would widen the community of thought(s). If your school is not interested form your own group on the side & show -through example- how it can be a credit to your own school. Showing is always better then telling. Where there is a will there is a way!
  • Mar 5 2011: This is a very good topic. Perhaps recently announced TED-ED project can help with implementing this idea?


    The project is currently open for registration to everyone that wants to participate.
  • Mar 4 2011: Great idea. I agree with Adam Burk, don't just watch, do something. Identify the best actionable ones and do something about it.

    And so maybe YOUR talk would not be a film from a stage, but a video of your club taking action (planing the community garden, meeting with politicians, whatever).

    And if you keep your eyes open for ways to build connections to other schools, that would make it even more powerful (do you have foreign exchange students - might they take the idea home with them?)
  • Mar 2 2011: By the way folks ,the theme of our TEDxChennai held on 10.10.10 was just "DO". And we have actually started doing something about the ideas generated. We also held the TEDxYouth@Chennai and have involved the youth to support many of the ideas. Ideas worth spreading have become "Ideas worth DOING" here in Chennai.
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    Mar 2 2011: A great idea indeed!

    I've also had the same idea soon after discovering TED back when I was in the 12th grade. We were discussing India in English class and although the material we were wroking with was quite interesting, it all wasn't a match for the great talks of TED India.
    Reading texts on women's issues there just isn't the same as hearing and seeing a great talk from TED.

    Same thing applied to other topics we discussed such as genetic engineering or stem cells. I remember not studying for the test on this topic with the papers from class, but by re-watching Gregory Stock's 2003 talk "To upgrade is human".

    Unfortunately, at that time I was convinced that our teacher wouldn't be too interested, so I never brought the matter up, however looking back I regret this. So all I can say is go ahead, start up a TED club, talk to your teachers and bring them aboard as well!

    To what extent the use could increase to actual TED classes is debatable, it all depends on the school. I think all in all such classes will not replace regular classes, but serve as an additional way of learning and finding inspiration.
    Here we always had additional involvement in clubs or groups mentioned below our marks, perhaps you could put TED in that category as well.
    Ideally you could then also get the clubs involved in TEDx events in the region.
  • Mar 2 2011: I'm a sophmore at my school, and this year, I really wanted to have a debate club that watched TEDTalks and debated them and such. Unfortuntely, none of the teachers that actually care had the time to be the advisor for the debate/TEDTalks club. Of course, I'm going to continue to try to get this club at my school. I'd love to know if it works out for you.
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      Mar 2 2011: Hi Mary,

      I know high school's a bit of a bubble in itself - it takes up majority of your time 5 days a week, and there might not be much connection between the school and other initiatives/communities. And I also hear you in that there's an issue with getting people to care (teachers, students) and generating critical mass.

      I think it's still possible. Most of the projects I've started are very grassroots, 0 budget, kind of things, but they grow slowly. The first thing is probably just to get the visibility there - to have those days, and hassle one of your teachers to just give you a room (most of them stay behind for an hour or two afterschool anyway). Make it easy for them - you organize everything (name of the group, what TEDtalks, facilitation for debate - or even if it's not a debate, just kind of a - well what can we do about this or what other neat initiatives have we found similar to the TED talk, doing the posters/contacting the announcement/student council) and make it so effortless on the teacher's part they can't say no.

      And for the students - grab your friends first. And if not - well you're watching TED videos anyway - just watch it in a classroom and see who drops by!
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    Mar 1 2011: Wow! Yeah! this is a great idea! About the curation, I think the video content in the website is already curated very well. Maybe you guys could start watching a TED talk every other week, and then having a discussion over the main ideas of that talk. Like some of the guys mentioned here, a facilitator is a must.
    Make sure to keep us updated on how this project of yours goes, so that it can then be expanded to other schools. And, maybe, who knows, this project grows enough that it spawns a TEDx of its own. :D
    (TEDxHS, TEDxHigherED anyone?)
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    Feb 28 2011: Jared, It is a GREAT idea. Everything starts with a dream:>) Sounds like you would make a good facilitator for the start-up project. How about beginning simply as an interested group of students who want to explore a certain topic. There have already been several classes involved in discussion on TED sites, and it's only a matter of time before the whole concept of TED, as part of our school systems, becomes reality.
  • Feb 28 2011: Jared, I think TED based clubs in school would be great but wouldn't it be brilliant to have them as somewhere youth could share their ideas and then have staff 'mentor' them in seeing their dreams through... Get involved in TEDx youth!
  • Feb 28 2011: There are two sides to TED, the idea and the action that comes from a great idea. I think it would be great to discuss the ideas brought up in TED, but it's better to find ones that you are passionate about and put them to work. A club we had at my high school that you might be interested in was Destination Imagination, a creative problem solving competition. It was a great platform for putting the things we'd learned in a classroom to good use. Alternatively, find a service organization that focuses on something that sparks your interest, like the environment or public service, and get involved there.
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    Feb 28 2011: I love the idea and have been thinking of something similar myself for quite some time. Although there are some points that may be difficult to get by for making this a really successful idea.

    Quality: as mentioned by some, its what makes TED great. The lack of curators and appointed discussion leaders may work at one school or two but to make this into something really great and global (guessing thats what we all want) TED needs to be in control somehow.

    Structure: Who should be appointed to lead and why (if not TED)? And what topics should be discussed and in what way? Democracy may be a good way to go about this, although since it's probably going to be small in the beginning we may get 2 votes for Technology, 1 vote for Entertainment and 1 for Design... losing half of the participants because of lack of interest.

    I think that somehow TED needs to put together a "top 10 for schools" or something. Which would include that TED took the role as curator and discussion leader for 10 topics worthy of discussion. This would be a guideline and basis for things worth discussing. and what way to do it in.

    Final question: if it's not curated by TED will it really become something more then some eager students tryings to spread knowledge in some random places around the world?
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      Feb 28 2011: Initially, at least, staff at the school who are interested in TED would be the "directors." Like I said in my response to Vivekanandan Manokaran's comment, the club policy at my school requires any official club to be sponsored and directed by a faculty member.

      However, you have given me an idea. There is at least one TEDx organizer in my area, and I think it would be a great idea to contact him to see what he thinks about it. Perhaps the school TED clubs could grow into being somehow connected with TEDx events; perhaps discounts for school trips to the events, or having a student present a Talk, or some other arrangement.
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    Feb 28 2011: I think that would be awesome. I would have rather joined something like this when I was in high school or college for that matter than the typically ACM...geeky club. TED is way more cool!
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    Feb 28 2011: I think given the amount of people in my field of study who seem to know and enjoy TED, there is definitely potential to make a TED-based society at my university. I'm not sure how you'd go about implementing a TED class, but if you have any ideas seriously go for it! :-)
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    Feb 28 2011: That is a good idea. But who is there to curate that group or club. The most important aspect of TED's quality is that it is curated or tuned. So starting TED clubs or groups will not be that efficient unless or otherwise there are the best people to curate or control them. Anyways your idea is one among the "IDEAS WORTH SPREADING" !!! Happy TED
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      Feb 28 2011: At least one of the teachers at my high school is very into TED, and school policy requires all clubs to have a staff Sponsor, so...there!
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      Mar 2 2011: What we did last year was having those who signed up for the TEDxTaipei event in January as a volunteer gather together on campus and watched a talk that the student organizers all loved, then we had a student speaker who had serveral volunteering experiences share her experiences and how she had changed. It was a 2 hour session that we also had students discuss the questions we raised at that time. We all enjoyed. The great thing about it was that it made us all connect to each other, so the TED society in our school has become bigger. I guess this is something you may start with.
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    Feb 28 2011: I am also a high school senior and have thought about starting a TED club for a while. I think the key is to make it completely optional and keep it discussion-based. It would be something cool for once a week after school or something like that, get together with snacks at a comfortable place. Watch like three videos and discuss each for as long as you think is necessary (probably like 30 mins). If you get really into it, you could even form a TEDx conference or adopt a cause that one of the TED Prize winners vouch for. In terms of making it a class, I wouldn't do that. I feel like it takes away from some of the fun.
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      Feb 28 2011: My vision of the TED class is different from a normal high school class, and I fear I haven't accurately conveyed my idea. The class would be very laid back, with no grades and very little homework. Even if there was homework it would be of the "Create your own TED-style talk and give it to the class" variety. The reason I would have it as a class is for the regularity and focus.

      A class (at least at my high school) is much more focused than a club, and has much more impetus to keep going. The purpose of the class would be to promote creativity, ingenuity, and discussion skills, with emphasis on keeping any debate civil and non-personal. I take a lot of inspiration for my class idea from this conversation: http://www.ted.com/conversations/29/test_schools_not_children.html Many of the discussions therein submit ideas for classes that promote creativity, not mnemonic skills.
  • Feb 28 2011: Well, I support the idea, but I am unsure how to implement it. For example, what makes some one qualified to 'teach' a TED class? The political side of teaching would get in the way on the class part, in my opinion. Part of the problem is that it requires a very high level of participation to work. This couldn't be like the average high school class, it would have to be actively thinking intellectuals, which tend to be few and far between.
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      Feb 28 2011: I don't intend or expect for it to be like an average high school class. Speaking from an ASMS standpoint it would be more like a DR; it wouldn't be "taught" in the traditional sense, so much as "directed." The teacher would select the Talks and Conversations that would be the topic of each period, and participate in the discussion, offering the point of view of someone with a working adult's experience. I doubt very highly that any such class would be worth academic credits (although it would absolutely deserve them).

      In response to your last sentence about intellectuals, I completely agree. The class would be meaningless and purposeless without intelligent people participating. If someone doesn't have any contribution to make, then they can learn what contributions are meaningful by observing the discussion of those who can make contributions. They become familiar with the environment of academic discourse and evolve into thinking participants.