TED Talks To Help Understand the World


I might have promised that this would be the last TED Talks-related blog post from me, but when there’s a wealth of seemingly untapped knowledge, it’s worth sharing.  As a follow-up to TED Talks To Inspire Educators and Parents, here are TED Talks To Help Understand the World.  And even if these TED Talks don’t get passed down to high school students (who would best handle them in smaller snippets and with discussion questions), they’re great for putting a framework on where the world is going.  And for future generations who are still navigating where to go, it’s nice to have a proverbial map.

Sherry Turkle:  Connected, but alone?

Sherry Turkle is a psychologist and sociologist studying the effect of technology and how it’s shaping society today.  An MIT professor of the Program in Science, Technology and Society, Turkle makes some really profound conclusions, like, ”… from social networks to sociable robots, we’re designing technologies that will give us the illusion of companionship without the demands of friendship. We turn to technology to help us feel connected in ways we can comfortably control.
It might also help kids to unplug a bit more if they know why they’re so addicted to being plugged in.

Kevin Allocca:  Why videos go viral

With over 48,000 videos being uploaded to YouTube per minute, YouTube’s trends manager, Kevin Allocca, identifies three particular reasons why videos go viral.  They make logical sense, but it just took someone authoritative to point them out.  For kids who think they’re going to be famous, at least show them this video for inspiration.

There’s a TED Ed lesson on this video, but personally, I’m not convinced of its true academic benefit more than its value of “a good thing to point out.”

Chris Bliss:  Comedy is translation

Bliss’ talk is a little more “cerebral” (and not as funny) than one would expect of a seasoned comedian, but he makes a few great points about comedy impacting an audience more than making them laugh.  This video would be best consumed by budding comedians or kids who think they’re funny by being mean.

Dalia Mogahed:  The attitudes that sparked Arab Spring

I like TED talks that broaden horizons and offer insight into other countries, especially from the perspective of someone who can bridge cultural gaps.  This TED Talk is a great start for further research and studying today’s issues rather than just doing an overview of the food (though also a worthy subject of study).  Mogahed focuses on Egypt with themes that would translate well into researching more general topics like, “What makes societies thrive?”

I remember several of my high school classes offering many occasions to latch onto current events and sociological/anthropological studies, but perhaps back then, resources weren’t as abundant as they are today.  With technology making almost everything lightning-fast to access, there’s ample opportunity to incorporate world news into curriculum and get students to find out about what’s concurrently making history.