May 6-10 is Teacher Appreciation Week in the United States (and education week at TED — with TED’s first-ever television special, TED Talks Education premiering on PBS this week.) However, the TEDx program, with its global reach, is privileged to have a unique perspective on education across the world — and we’d like to celebrate teachers and schools the world over. Below, 5 TEDx Talks that explore some of the social, economic and political implications of guaranteeing good schools.
The impact desegregation had on schools: Rucker Johnson at TEDxMiamiUniversity
As schools were desegregated in the 1950s and 1960s, opponents feared that embracing students from low-performing, all-black schools would lower standards and unfairly disrupt white students’ performances. It’s been 60 years — were they right? No. As Rucker Johnson shows with his extensive research, desegregation had virtually no effect on white students, but propelled minority students to unprecedented levels of success.
No more easy answers: Adrián Paenza at TEDxJoven@RiodelaPlata
All too often, school lessons set concrete problems with clean answers. Which, suggests Adrián Paenza, can limit students’ creative problem-solving abilities. But perhaps more importantly, it can engender arrogance — setting classist expectations for the answers everyone ought to know. With humor and a few touching stories, he looks at some of the effects that unequal educational opportunities have on society. (In Spanish with English subtitles.)
Don’t mistake a dialect for a disorder: Sade Wilson at TEDxEMU
African American Vernacular English is a common dialect in the US. It’s not bad English, yet kids who grow up speaking it at home are too often misdiagnosed with speech and learning disabilities by teachers who either don’t recognize the dialect or give tests in their own dialect of English. At TEDxEMU, speech pathologist Sade Wilson sheds light on the issue and makes six recommendations to improve how teachers work with students who speak a dialect.
Where’s the R&D for better schools? Jim Shelton at TEDxMidAtlantic
If education is an essential social good, shouldn’t we make a bigger effort to figure out what’s worth investing in and what’s not? Governments invest in education, and governments invest in research, but according to Jim Shelton, many countries don’t invest much in education research. In this talk from TEDxMidAtlantic, he calls for expanding public investment into the research and development of new education practices and platforms.
A girl who demanded school: Kakenya Ntaiya at TEDxMidAtlantic
Kakenya Ntaiya made an unusual deal with her father in order to go to high school – something unheard-of for girls in her Maasai village. After continuing on to college in the US., Ntaiya returned to her village and set up a school for girls. In this talk, she shows how the school is changing the local culture by creating an alternative path for girls uninterested in marriage in their early teens.
Language is a strange thing. We use it every day, but we often forget it’s there; it’s easy to learn as a child, but fiendishly difficult as an adult; and, for reasons that are hard to define, certain words can evoke strong emotions or even downright offend.
Below, 5 TEDx Talks (and one TED Talk!) on the wonders of language and linguistics, from the secret life of pronouns to why we’re so offended by curse words.
John McWhorter: Txtng is killing language. JK!!!
Since its invention, many people have railed against the rise of “txt spk,” believing its use will eventually lead to the demise of English. John McWhorter begs to differ. At TED2013, he explains that texting is merely a new dialect of English and that we should rest assured that the language we speak isn’t going anywhere anytime soon.
The Secret Life of Pronouns: James Pennebaker at TEDxAustin
The words you use most say a lot more about you than you may intend. At TEDxAustin, James Pennebaker introduces you to the secret life of pronouns and demonstrates what your speech, emails and tweets say about you.
How Does The Brain Interpret Language?: Steve Nikolidakis at TEDxCooperUnion
In this short and sweet talk, Steve Nikolidakis explains the basics of neurolinguistics and its insight into how the brain processes language at TEDxCooperUnion.
Euphemisms: Kate Burridge at TEDxSydney
What is it about a word that makes it taboo? At TEDxSydney, Kate Burridge explains the mysterious phenomenon of some words being ruder than others.
Grammar, Identity, and the Dark Side of the Subjunctive: Phuc Tran at TEDxDirigo
At TEDxDirigo, Phuc Tran takes you on a fun romp through grammatical mood, debunking the often misunderstood subjunctive, with some interesting examples using Darth Vader thrown in for good measure.
Walk the Talk: Simon Denoth at TEDxZug
At TEDxZug, polyglot Simon Denoth expands on the importance of plurilingualism and the benefits it can bring to society — besides just being a good party trick.