Top 10 TED Talks for K-12 Teachers

No one is happy with the current educational landscape, not teachers, lawmakers or the students themselves. But what can be done to fix a broken system? Here are 10 TED talks that seek to rectify mistakes and increase real learning in K-12 schools.

1: Geoffrey Canada – Our Failing Schools. Enough is Enough!

Have schools changed in the last century? According to education advocate Geoffrey Canada, kids today are the victims of a business model that hasn’t experienced growth or development in at least five decades. The only way to bring education in line with the times is through a systematic overhaul, and Canada has a few ideas for the ideal transition.

2: Tyler DeWitt – Hey Science Teachers — Make It Fun

How can you get kids interested in the tiny world of microbiology or the expansive scope of far-flung galaxies? It’s easy: Ditch the textbooks! A science teacher himself, Tyler DeWitt urges his colleagues to cut up any lesson plans based on dry, technical textbooks or standardized tests. Instead, allow science to come alive in the classroom with experiments and demonstrations, and students will respond to your energy with engagement and curiosity.

3: Pearl Arredondo – My Story, From Gangland Daughter to Star Teacher

Growing up in the ghettos of LA, Pearl Arradondo knew firsthand what it was like to be ignored, mocked and written off by her own teachers as a hopeless case. She defied expectations, however, and became an educator herself, and she shares her incredible story in this TED talk designed to inspire anyone interested in keeping kids in their classrooms and out of the cracks.

4: Angela Lee Duckworth – The Key to Success? Grit

A former financial consultant who gave it all up to teach math to seventh graders, Angela Lee Duckworth suggests that intelligence isn’t the biggest precursor to academic success. Instead, it’s “grit,” or a combination of perseverance, confidence and self-control. Nurturing these qualities instead of emphasizing smarts may just be the only way to save a failing school system.

5: Rita F. Pierson – Every Kid Needs A Champion

In an age of cutbacks, evaluations and teachers paying for supplies out of their own pockets, it’s easy for the modern educator to grow disillusioned with their work. How can they remain engaged to give their students the best chance of success? Rita F. Pierson offers both suggestions and challenges for any teacher looking to increase job satisfaction and stimulate the growing minds of future generations.

6: Ken Robinson – How to Escape Education’s Death Valley

There are three basic foundations to opening a mind and unlocking human potential, but in this TED talk, Sir Ken Robinson argues that schools are working against all of them. The current educational landscape is a “death valley” for creativity, ingenuity and growth, and only through reform and a certain amount of risk-tasking can educators help their students climb out of the desert and onto a horizon of real learning.

7: Charles Leadbeater – Education Innovation in the Slums

For those truly interested in re-envisioning a broken system, Charles Leadbeater says not to look at pricey, private schools who claim to have all the answers. Instead, look to the slums of India, where informal classrooms and lessons under bridges have already begun to revolutionize the way young people learn.

8: Ramsey Musallam – 3 Rules to Spark Learning

After a decade of “phoning it in,” high school chemistry teacher Ramsey Musallam experienced a life-threatening condition that forced him to confront everything about himself, including his lackluster teaching style. What followed was an epiphany of the best kind, and he shares his hard-won knowledge in this TED talk, offering three rules to optimize education in the classroom.

9: Stuart Firestein – The Pursuit of Ignorance

Take pride in what you don’t know. That’s the heart of the latest TED talk from Stuary Firestein, a neuroscientist and educational advocate who argues about narrow-minded schooling with right and wrong answers. Real education only comes when you dare to admit your own ignorance, he says, so throw out the scientific method and embrace a system of trial, error and progress.

10: Sugata Mitra – The Child-Driven Education

Can teachers overteach their students? According to educational researcher Sugata Mitra, not only is it possible, but it’s a phenomenon striking schools all across the globe. The only solution is to take a step back and let the children reclaim control of their own learning, and Mitra offers a few unorthodox ideas for making that happen.

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