May 082015

Being asked to speak at a TEDx or TED event, is for many professionals, the apex of all of their professional work. Often these speakers are at the height of their career and have profoundly shaped their field of expertise.  Many of them have made the world a better place.  Many of them have ideas worth spreading that will affect how you and I will live out our futures.

But  TED recognizes that behind the confident exterior of that  adult giving a TED or TEDx talk, was a child with passions, interests and a desire to figure out how the world works.

_MG_8461_croppedFor these reasons, I applaud the TED-Ed Clubs program.  I love how this TED sanctioned, extra-curricular club provides our students with the opportunity to meet up with like-minded students who are often not yet friends or even in the same grade, who ALSO love ideas.

Often times when you think of an extracurricular activity, you think of sports, band or drama.  Rarely do we think of an extracurricular activity as an opportunity for students to engage their intellect, their curiosity, their desire to become an expert in an area of their choice.

Working closely with my 7 TED-Ed Club members has reinforced truths about teenagers that adults need to pay more attention to:

  1. Kids are amazing.
  2. They have interests and concerns we are not even slightly aware of.
  3. They are incredibly dedicated to the ideas and people they are passionate about.
  4. They need to be given the time and space to let their thinking flourish and develop.
  5. We need to give them a place to take intellectual risks
  6. We need to teach them how to create success.

Often times, the critique about school is that students leave unaware of the “reality” of  real life; that they don’t understand how much work it takes to be successful.  I would argue that by spending 8 months considering their passions, chasing down an idea they wish to further investigate, honing their thinking until they know exactly what they want to say, then developing the slides, the presentation style, the delivery of their talks, students ARE fully aware of how much work it takes to successfully share an idea.

They are ready for life.