TED Conversations

Jared Tompkins

Researcher, Auburn University

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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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  • 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.

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