Theresa Willingham

FIRST (For Inspiration & Recognition of Science & Technology
Odessa, FL, United States

About Theresa

Bio

I have been diversely engaged in professional writing and knowledge management for more than twenty five years. The author of two books on health, and numerous articles across a range of topics from health to education, religion and philosophy, my work focuses on helping empower individuals to live and learn in meaningful, personally fulfilling and socially productive ways. I am the founder and current president of Learning is for Everyone (LI4E.org), where I served on the Board of Directors for 10 years, and have been lead curator and promoter for TEDxYouth@TampaBay since 2010, and Tampa Bay Mini Maker Faire 2012 & 2013, and most recently organizer of Gulf Coast MakerCon. I am also the Regional Director for FIRST STEM education programs in Central Florida.

Languages

English

Areas of Expertise

writer, Thinker, Collaborate/Co-Create/Cross-edit/Communicate

An idea worth spreading

Everyone, everywhere should have the opportunity to acquire or develop the knowledge he or she needs to live well and meaningfully; to explore his or her world thoroughly and safely, and to have ways to express and share curiosity and wonderment, ideas and insights and inventions in productive, fulfilling ways.

I'm passionate about

Lifelong learning, understanding and contributing to human societies in effective and sustainable ways

Talk to me about

Learning and education
Nature and Environment
Spirituality
Philosophy
Innovation and Invention
Science
The World

People don't know I'm good at

Cooking - I think! At least I like what I cook, and I have fun cooking.

My TED story

I became fully aware of TED after my hero, EO Wilson, won the TED Prize a couple of years ago. Then, about a year ago, I had the opportunity to meet Dr. Wilson when he spoke at Eckerd College in St. Petersburg, and he fired my imagination and my soul with a desire to want to know more - about everything, about how we're connected, about the common ground we all share. After attending TEDxTampaBay in early 2010, I was inspired to apply for a license to host a TEDxYouth event. I received the license in April and on November 20, 2010 TEDxYouth@TampaBay became Florida's first TEDxYouth event. We've just wrapped up TEDxYouth@TampaBay 2012, and can't wait to start planning for our 2013 event! I'm really excited to have an active role in the sharing of Ideas worth Spreading in Florida!

Favorite talks

Comments & conversations

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Theresa Willingham
Posted over 2 years ago
Should TED go dark tomorrow to protest SOPA and PIPA?
As a writer, I don't feel that copyright infringement is "theft" either - my work still stands, available for all. As a 21st century writer, I'm also a supporter of Creative Commons and freely share much of my work, which builds many other opportunities for me to express myself in potentially more lucrative ways. Taking away freedom is no way to protect freedom.
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Theresa Willingham
Posted over 2 years ago
If you could make a wish on behalf of The City 2.0, what would it be?
I'd like to see collaborative, contextual, experiential learning opportunities as an integral component of City 2.0. My wish is that Knowledge is a celebrated end unto itself in the City(which definitely needs a less sterile name! City of Hope? City of Promise?) , where libraries are core community learning centers, where every business has a mentoring and apprenticeship program, where wifi is as common as radio, and the clouds above the city are filled with information. I wish for a City driven by a Knowledge economy!
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Theresa Willingham
Posted almost 3 years ago
Aicha el-Wafi + Phyllis Rodriguez: The mothers who found forgiveness, friendship
As a fellow atheist , I find neither the Dali Lama, forgiveness, nor the ability to find common ground with people vastly different from ourselves,yet also bound by basic humanity - neither silly or grotesque. The West may indeed pass, but only if we can't rise above such over-simplified, short sighted, knee-jerk rhetoric. The story these women tell is completely their own, and I think a model of intentional, thoughtful compassion - something all of us would do well to cultivate.
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Theresa Willingham
Posted over 3 years ago
How can we empower kids to reshape the education system? *A TEDActive Education Project Question*
Maybe more students aren't responding to this question because it's not being asked in a place where more students will see it. TED's great, but I think you're the exception to the TEDster rule, Adora. Most people having this conversation are out of school, or at least out of high school. If you want student engagement, then the conversation needs to be brought to the students - not just the ones we think will agree, but students who've never been given the opportunity to think about it before. I also think that as long as we continue to talk about "reforming the *education system*" instead of looking at new ways to understand the *learning process," nothing is going to change. The problem with the education system is just that - it's a "system." We don't learn in systems. We learn from practice, from experiences, from one another.
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Theresa Willingham
Posted over 3 years ago
How can we empower kids to reshape the education system? *A TEDActive Education Project Question*
Many students have lost their mojo, many others haven't! They can help inspire the others. Check out http://generationwakingup.org/wp/ and http://www.busthechange.org/, whose vision is "for inspired young people to connect their passions with the needs of the world and, in collaboration with their communities, be the creators of a sustainable, just and thriving world." There's a lot of youth passion and energy out there - we just need to help them all connect with each other!
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Theresa Willingham
Posted over 3 years ago
Using the Power of Collaboration to Crowdsource Learning
Here's another great collaborative effort underway - Flat Classroom: http://www.flatclassroomproject.net/ "The concept of a 'flat classroom' is based on the constructivist principle of a multi-modal learning environment that is student-centered and a level playing field for teacher to student and student to teacher interaction." The Ning worksite is here: http://flatclassroomproject.ning.com/ This is just one example of many great collaborative projects underway working to contemporize, customize, and contextualize learning!
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Theresa Willingham
Posted over 3 years ago
How can we empower kids to reshape the education system? *A TEDActive Education Project Question*
This great piece ran on Edutopia today -http://www.edutopia.org/blog/student...ts-paul-bogdan, and this paragraph, in particular, caught my eye: "...More and more of society at large, and consequently many students, are demanding an educational system that works for and with them. These students are not bored. They are very curious, eager to learn, and willing to do whatever it takes to learn. I believe that the student-centered learning environment enables an educator to deal effectively with all types of students in the same classroom. A student-centered learning environment encourages students to become independent learners and ultimately to be in charge of their own education. "Are teachers obsolete? Absolutely not. But, an educator's role is changing from the traditional "imparter of knowledge" to that of coach and consultant. " At a related conversation (Crowdsourcing learning) and on TED ED, I've proffered the idea that maybe we should look at 21st century teaching as something more akin to being a "learning guide," where people bring their experience and expertise to bearin the guidance of learners much like wilderness guides help hikers and explorers. Maybe an apropos analogy for the new role of teachers in the 21st century is as "sherpas" - experts in their fields who guide others on journeys of self-discovery. Mr. Blasdel doesn't seem to believe that children can guide their own futures. I beg to differ and can provide plenty of evidence to support that they can, from my own children to plenty of young entrepreneurs. I didn't know anything in school either - but I was curious, and I was fortunate enough to engage with people who indulged and encouraged my curiosity, and helped shape it into useful knowledge. I believe we can do the same for more, on a larger scale.