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My Friend TED

May 13, 2013

The blogosphere is packed with ideas.  That’s one of the features that makes it fun and stimulating to be a part of.  Most of us just write our ideas to ourselves and our two readers (three if you include the cat) and count ourselves fortunate to be part of the conversation.  Within the last couple of months my attention has been called to a new forum for ideas: TED.  TED stands for Technology, Entertainment, and Design.  It’s motto is “Ideas Worth Spreading”.  It started out as a conference that brought innovators in the three focus fields together.  It has morphed into something much broader.  The TED forum now includes TEDMED, for medical issues, TEDWoman, TEDGlobal and so on.  The organization also fosters new talent with it’s sponsorship of awards and fellowships.

You can’t just sign up to go to one of the TED conferences.  Or rather, you can, but you’ll have to pony up $4,000-$7,000.  But on TED.com you can access thousands of 20-minute “TEDTalks”, short speeches from leaders in various fields whose talks were originally given at one of the conferences but can be viewed for free on the TED site.  These talks are universally fantastic.  For example, PBS aired a TEDTalk segment on education, the first televised TEDTalk as far as I know.  Rita Pierson talked about teaching as making a connection between people.  Ramsey Musallam talked about teachers as cultivators of curiosity.  Angela Duckworth talked about how to cultivate passion and perseverance for very long-term goals, a characteristic she calls “grit”.  Bill Gates talked about money, of course.  Geoffrey Canada talked about educational innovation.  Pearl Arredondo, whose father was a gang member, talked about schools as safe havens.  And Sir Ken Robinson (I LOVE him, why have I never heard of this guy???) wondered why alternative education is called “alternative”.  You can google any of these folks and find they are all leaders in the field of education, not always famous but always considering something interesting.

I have only one, well two, concerns about TED.  One, it’ so frigging expensive.  Two, like the blogosphere, TED is all talk.  That’s it’s point.  I will be interested to see if the talking translates over time into doing.  In this world of social media and a never-ending quest for more information, there’s a lot of talk.  Talk is fun, interesting, stimulating, cheap.  Doing is hard, frustrating, and expensive.  Doing requires grit.

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