What should future schools look like? How do brains learn? Some of the world's greatest educators, researchers, and community leaders share their stories and visions onstage at the TED conference, TEDx events and partner events around the world. You can also download these and many other videos free on TED.com, with an interactive English transcript and subtitles in up to 80 languages. TED is a nonprofit devoted to Ideas Worth Spreading.
Ethan Lindenberger never got vaccinated as a kid. So one day, he went on Reddit and asked a simple question: "Where do I go to get vaccinated?" The post went viral, landing Lindenberger in the middle of a heated debate about vaccination and, ultimately, in front of a US Senate committee. Less than a year later, the high school senior reports back on his unexpected time in the spotlight and a new movement he's leading to fight misinformation and advocate for scientific truth.
Lindsay Amer is the creator of "Queer Kid Stuff," an educational video series that breaks down complex ideas around gender and sexuality through songs and metaphors. By giving kids and their families a vocabulary to express themselves, Amer is helping to create more empathetic adults -- and spreading a message of radical acceptance in a world where it's sometimes dangerous to just be yourself. "I want kids to grow up and into themselves with pride for who they are and who they can be," Amer says.
Reading and writing can be acts of courage that bring us closer to others and ourselves. Author Michelle Kuo shares how teaching reading skills to her students in the Mississippi Delta revealed the bridging power of the written word -- as well as the limitations of its power.
In the early 1990s, a scandal rocked evolutionary biology: scientists discovered that songbirds -- once thought to be strictly monogamous -- engaged in what's politely called "extra-pair copulation." In this unforgettable biology lesson on animal infidelity, TED Fellow Danielle N. Lee shows how she uses hip-hop to teach science, leading the crowd in an updated version of Naughty by Nature's hit "O.P.P."
Kakenya Ntaiya turned her dream of getting an education into a movement to empower vulnerable girls and bring an end to harmful traditional practices in Kenya. Meet two students at the Kakenya Center for Excellence, a school where girls can live and study safely -- and uplift their community along the way. "When you empower a girl, you transform a community," Ntaiya says.
To get young kids to thrive in school, we need to do more than teach them how to read and write -- we need to teach them how to manage their emotions, says educator Olympia Della Flora. In this practical talk, she shares creative tactics she used to help struggling, sometimes disruptive students -- things like stopping for brain breaks, singing songs and even doing yoga poses -- all with her existing budget and resources. "Small changes make huge differences, and it's possible to start right now ... You simply need smarter ways to think about using what you have, where you have it," she says.
How do we make sense of a world that doesn't? By looking in unexpected places, says mathematician Eugenia Cheng. She explains how applying concepts from abstract mathematics to daily life can lead us to a deeper understanding of things like the root of anger and the function of privilege. Learn more about how this surprising tool can help us to empathize with each other.
There's no greater freedom than finding your purpose, says education advocate Ashweetha Shetty. Born to a poor family in rural India, Shetty didn't let the social norms of her community stifle her dreams and silence her voice. In this personal talk, she shares how she found self-worth through education -- and how she's working to empower other rural youth to explore their potential. "All of us are born into a reality that we blindly accept -- until something awakens us and a new world opens up," Shetty says.
When one of Liz Kleinrock's fourth-grade students said the unthinkable at the start of a class on race, she knew it was far too important a teachable moment to miss. But where to start? Learn how Kleinrock teaches kids to discuss taboo topics without fear -- because the best way to start solving social problems is to talk about them.
Around the world, black girls are being pushed out of schools because of policies that target them for punishment, says author and social justice scholar Monique W. Morris. The result: countless girls are forced into unsafe futures with restricted opportunities. How can we put an end to this crisis? In an impassioned talk, Morris uncovers the causes of "pushout" and shows how we can work to turn all schools into spaces where black girls can heal and thrive.
Libraries have the power to create a better world; they connect communities, promote literacy and spark lifelong learners. But there's one thing that keeps people away: the fear of overdue book fines. In this thought-provoking talk, librarian Dawn Wacek makes the case that fines don't actually do what we think they do. What if your library just ... stopped asking for them altogether?
After a visit to a European library in search of Arabic and Middle Eastern texts turned up only titles about fear, terrorism and destruction, Ghada Wali resolved to represent her culture in a fun, accessible way. The result: a colorful, engaging project that uses LEGO to teach Arabic script, harnessing the power of graphic design to create connection and positive change. "Effective communication and education is the road to more tolerant communities," Wali says.
Social justice belongs in our schools, says educator Sydney Chaffee. In a bold talk, she shows how teaching students to engage in activism helps them build important academic and life skills -- and asks us to rethink how we can use education to help kids find their voices. "Teaching will always be a political act," Chaffee says. "We can't be afraid of our students' power. Their power will help them make tomorrow better."
Africa's youth is coming of age rapidly, but job growth on the continent isn't keeping up. The result: financial insecurity and, in some cases, a turn towards insurgent groups. In a passionate talk, agricultural entrepreneur Kola Masha details his plan to bring leadership and investment to small farmers in Africa -- and employ a rising generation.
Jakob Magolan is here to change your perception of organic chemistry. In an accessible talk packed with striking graphics, he teaches us the basics while breaking the stereotype that organic chemistry is something to be afraid of.
What can we learn from the slimy, smelly side of life? In this playful talk, science journalist Anna Rothschild shows us the hidden wisdom of "gross stuff" and explains why avoiding the creepy underbelly of nature, medicine and technology closes us off to important sources of knowledge about our health and the world. "When we explore the gross side of life, we find insights that we never would have thought we'd find, and we even often reveal beauty that we didn't think was there," Rothschild says.
Comic books and graphic novels belong in every teacher's toolkit, says cartoonist and educator Gene Luen Yang. Set against the backdrop of his own witty, colorful drawings, Yang explores the history of comics in American education -- and reveals some unexpected insights about their potential for helping kids learn.
Shameem Akhtar posed as a boy during her early childhood in Pakistan so she could enjoy the privileges Pakistani girls are rarely afforded: to play outside and attend school. In an eye-opening, personal talk, Akhtar recounts how the opportunity to get an education altered the course of her life -- and ultimately changed the culture of her village, where today every young girl goes to school.
Mohamad Jebara loves mathematics -- but he's concerned that too many students grow up thinking that this beautiful, rewarding subject is difficult and boring. His company is experimenting with a bold idea: paying students for completing weekly math homework. He explores the ethics of this model and how it's helping students -- and why learning math is crucial in the era of fake news.
Su Kahumbu raises badass cows -- healthy, well-fed animals whose protein is key to solving a growing crisis in Africa: childhood nutritional stunting. With iCow, a simple SMS service she developed to support small-scale livestock farmers, the TED Fellow is helping farmers across the continent by texting them tips on caring for and raising animals. Learn more about how this cheap innovation is helping feed hungry kids, one text at a time.
As parents, it's our job to teach our kids about sex. But beyond "the talk," which covers biology and reproduction, there's so much more we can say about the human experience of being in our bodies. Introducing "The Talk 2.0," Sue Jaye Johnson shows us how we can teach our children to tune in to their sensations and provide them with the language to communicate their desires and emotions -- without shutting down or numbing out.
The most important infrastructure we have is educated minds, says former Tunisian government minister Amel Karboul. Yet too often large investments go to more visible initiatives such as bridges and roads, when it's the minds of our children that will really create a brighter future. In this sharp talk, she shares actionable ideas to ensure that every child is in school -- and learning -- within just one generation.
How can disadvantaged students succeed in school? For sociologist Anindya Kundu, grit and stick-to-itiveness aren't enough; students also need to develop their agency, or their capacity to overcome obstacles and navigate the system. He shares hopeful stories of students who have defied expectations in the face of personal, social and institutional challenges.
How can Africa, the home to some of the largest bodies of water in the world, be said to have a water crisis? It doesn't, says Olúfẹ́mi Táíwò -- it has a knowledge crisis. Táíwò suggests that lack of knowledge on important topics like water and food is what stands between Africa's current state and a future of prosperity. In a powerful talk, he calls for Africa to make the production of knowledge within the continent rewarding and reclaim its position as a locus of learning on behalf of humanity.
Nature is wonderfully abundant, diverse and mysterious -- but biological research today tends to focus on only seven species, including rats, chickens, fruit flies and us. We're studying an astonishingly narrow sliver of life, says biologist Alejandro Sánchez Alvarado, and hoping it'll be enough to solve the oldest, most challenging problems in science, like cancer. In this visually captivating talk, Alvarado calls on us to interrogate the unknown and shows us the remarkable discoveries that surface when we do.
What can we expect our kids to learn if they're hungry or eating diets full of sugar and empty of nutrients? Former White House Chef and food policymaker Sam Kass discusses the role schools can play in nourishing students' bodies in addition to their minds.
As a black woman from a tough part of the Bronx who grew up to attain all the markers of academic prestige, Dena Simmons knows that for students of color, success in school sometimes comes at the cost of living authentically. Now an educator herself, Simmons discusses how we might create a classroom that makes all students feel proud of who they are. "Every child deserves an education that guarantees the safety to learn in the comfort of one's own skin," she says.
Unlock the mysteries and inner workings of the world through one of the most imaginative art forms ever -- mathematics -- with Roger Antonsen, as he explains how a slight change in perspective can reveal patterns, numbers and formulas as the gateways to empathy and understanding.
Define students by what they contribute, not what they lack -- especially those with difficult upbringings, says educator Victor Rios. Interweaved with his personal tale of perseverance as an inner-city youth, Rios identifies three straightforward strategies to shift attitudes in education and calls for fellow educators to see "at-risk" students as "at-promise" individuals brimming with resilience, character and grit.
Why should a good education be exclusive to rich kids? Schools in low-income neighborhoods across the US, specifically in communities of color, lack resources that are standard at wealthier schools -- things like musical instruments, new books, healthy school lunches and soccer fields -- and this has a real impact on the potential of students. Kandice Sumner sees the disparity every day in her classroom in Boston. In this inspiring talk, she asks us to face facts -- and change them.
English is fast becoming the world's universal language, and instant translation technology is improving every year. So why bother learning a foreign language? Linguist and Columbia professor John McWhorter shares four alluring benefits of learning an unfamiliar tongue.
Our kids are our future, and it's crucial they believe it themselves. That's why Nadia Lopez opened an academic oasis in Brownsville, Brooklyn, one of the most underserved and violent neighborhoods in New York -- because she believes in every child's brilliance and capabilities. In this short, energizing talk, the founding principal of Mott Hall Bridges Academy (and a star of Humans of New York) shares how she helps her scholars envision a brighter future for themselves and their families.
Would you choose to build a house on top of an unfinished foundation? Of course not. Why, then, do we rush students through education when they haven't always grasped the basics? Yes, it's complicated, but educator Sal Khan shares his plan to turn struggling students into scholars by helping them master concepts at their own pace.
Seema Bansal forged a path to public education reform for 15,000 schools in Haryana, India, by setting an ambitious goal: by 2020, 80 percent of children should have grade-level knowledge. She's looking to meet this goal by seeking reforms that will work in every school without additional resources. Bansal and her team have found success using creative, straightforward techniques such as communicating with teachers using SMS group chats, and they have already measurably improved learning and engagement in Haryana's schools.
Hidden truths permeate our world; they're inaccessible to our senses, but math allows us to go beyond our intuition to uncover their mysteries. In this survey of mathematical breakthroughs, Fields Medal winner Cédric Villani speaks to the thrill of discovery and details the sometimes perplexing life of a mathematician. "Beautiful mathematical explanations are not only for our pleasure," he says. "They change our vision of the world."
Virtual reality is no longer part of some distant future, and it's not just for gaming and entertainment anymore. Michael Bodekaer wants to use it to make quality education more accessible. In this refreshing talk, he demos an idea that could revolutionize the way we teach science in schools.
"Copy editing for The New Yorker is like playing shortstop for a Major League Baseball team -- every little movement gets picked over by the critics," says Mary Norris, who has played the position for more than thirty years. In that time, she's gotten a reputation for sternness and for being a "comma maniac," but this is unfounded, she says. Above all, her work is aimed at one thing: making authors look good. Explore The New Yorker's distinctive style with the person who knows it best in this charming talk.
Tim Urban knows that procrastination doesn't make sense, but he's never been able to shake his habit of waiting until the last minute to get things done. In this hilarious and insightful talk, Urban takes us on a journey through YouTube binges, Wikipedia rabbit holes and bouts of staring out the window -- and encourages us to think harder about what we're really procrastinating on, before we run out of time.
When the Taliban closed all the girls' schools in Afghanistan, Sakena Yacoobi set up new schools, in secret, educating thousands of women and men. In this fierce, funny talk, she tells the jaw-dropping story of two times when she was threatened to stop teaching -- and shares her vision for rebuilding her beloved country.
As a global community, we all want to end poverty. Mia Birdsong suggests a great place to start: Let's honor the skills, drive and initiative that poor people bring to the struggle every day. She asks us to look again at people in poverty: They may be broke — but they're not broken.
Alix Generous is a young woman with a million and one ideas -- she's done award-winning science, helped develop new technology and tells a darn good joke (you'll see). She has Asperger's, a form of autistic spectrum disorder that can impair the basic social skills required for communication, and she's worked hard for years to learn how to share her thoughts with the world. In this funny, personal talk, she shares her story -- and her vision for tools to help more people communicate their big ideas.
Seventy thousand years ago, our human ancestors were insignificant animals, just minding their own business in a corner of Africa with all the other animals. But now, few would disagree that humans dominate planet Earth; we've spread to every continent, and our actions determine the fate of other animals (and possibly Earth itself). How did we get from there to here? Historian Yuval Noah Harari suggests a surprising reason for the rise of humanity.
Some of us learn best in the classroom, and some of us ... well, we don't. But we still love to learn -- we just need to find the way that works for us. In this charming, personal talk, author John Green shares the community of learning that he found in online video.
On Linda Cliatt-Wayman's first day as principal at a failing high school in North Philadelphia, she was determined to lay down the law. But she soon realized the job was more complex than she thought. With palpable passion, she shares the three principles that helped her turn around three schools labeled "low-performing and persistently dangerous." Her fearless determination to lead -- and to love the students, no matter what -- is a model for leaders in all fields.
With humor and charm, mathematician Eduardo Sáenz de Cabezón answers a question that's wracked the brains of bored students the world over: What is math for? He shows the beauty of math as the backbone of science — and shows that theorems, not diamonds, are forever. In Spanish, with English subtitles.
Performance poet (and math student) Harry Baker spins a love poem about his favorite kind of numbers -- the lonely, love-lorn prime. Stay on for two more lively, inspiring poems from this charming performer.
Whales have a surprising and important job, says marine biologist Asha de Vos: these massive creatures are ecosystem engineers, keeping the oceans healthy and stable by ... well, by pooping, for a start. Learn from de Vos, a TED Fellow, about the undervalued work that whales do to help maintain the stability and health of our seas -- and our planet.
Nature photographer Frans Lanting uses vibrant images to take us deep into the animal world. In this short, visual talk he calls for us to reconnect with other earthly creatures, and to shed the metaphorical skins that separate us from each other.
In 1963, Jacques Cousteau lived for 30 days in an underwater laboratory positioned on the floor of the Red Sea, and set a world record in the process. This summer, his grandson Fabien Cousteau broke that record. Cousteau the younger lived for 31 days aboard the Aquarius, an underwater research laboratory nine miles off the coast of Florida. In a charming talk he brings his wondrous adventure to life.
The Amazon River is like a heart, pumping water from the seas through it, and up into the atmosphere through 600 billion trees, which act like lungs. Clouds form, rain falls and the forest thrives. In a lyrical talk, Antonio Donato Nobre talks us through the interconnected systems of this region, and how they provide environmental services to the entire world. A parable for the extraordinary symphony that is nature.