Top 5 TED Talks for Teachers in 2014

Top 5 TED Talks for Teachers in 2014

“The task of the modern educator is not to cut down jungles, but to irrigate deserts.” ― C.S. Lewis

Considering education has been that relevant, transformative force which has literally kept the generations alive and kicking for centuries, anyone with a piquant passion for teaching as well as learning enjoys many lessons far beyond the confines of the classroom. And, irrespective of the ideologies and themes that capture their imaginings, there is a corresponding TED Talk.

TED (Technology, Entertainment, Design) is a global set of conferences run by the private non-profit Sapling Foundation, under the slogan “Ideas Worth Spreading”. TED was founded in 1984 as a one-off event; the annual conference series began in 1990. TED’s early emphasis was technology and design, consistent with its Silicon Valley origins, but it has since broadened its focus to include talks on many scientific, cultural and academic topics.

We poured over gazillions of TED Talks and whittled down to the top 5 Ted Talks by teachers who made an impact in the life of their students. Through these talks, they share their stories and inspire teachers to create magic. Watch these talks to learn how they did it:

Top 5 TED Talks For Teachers in 2014

1. Teach Teachers how to Create Magic by Christopher Emdin

What it is about: Christopher Emdin, a veteran teacher, wants teachers to learn how to create magic to engage students while teaching.

Why you should watch: Emdin advocates reframing of teacher education to focus on basic engagement skills by allowing student teachers to visit places where engagement happens naturally – like rap concerts. Here you can learn to apply these engagement strategies to model your own teaching that communicates effectively with students and engages them in the conversation.

Quote: “What do rap shows, barbershop banter and Sunday services have in common? They all hold the secret magic to enthrall and teach at the same time — and it’s a skill we often don’t teach to educators. But magic can be taught.”

2. Every Kid Needs a Champion by Rita Pierson

What it is about: Rita F. Pierson, a teacher with over 40 years of experience, insists every learner needs an educator that they have a meaningful connection and relationship with. By caring for his students, an educator creates an environment that helps him tap into their prodigious potential.

Why you should watch: Teachers play a crucial in their students’ lives. Pierson uses her vast experience as an educator to advocate a strong bond between teachers and students. She says, as educators you must believe in your students and connect with them on a real, human, personal level.

Quote: “Students don’t learn from people they don’t like.”

3. How to Escape Education’s Death Valley by Ken Robinson

What it is about: English author, speaker and international advisor on education Sir Ken Robinson addresses the dropout rate and numbers of disengaged students in the USA.

Why you should watch: Robinson summaries 3 principles central for the human mind to flourish — and the current crisis that the education sector is facing.

Quote: “Governments decide they know best and they’re going to tell you what to do. The trouble is that education doesn’t go on in the committee rooms of our legislative buildings. It happens in classrooms and schools, and the people who do it are the teachers and the students. And if you remove their discretion, it stops working.”

4. Changing education paradigms by Ken Robinson

What it is about: Sir Ken Robinson lays out the link between 3 troubling trends: rising drop-out rates, schools’ dwindling stake in the arts, and ADHD (Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder).

Why you should watch: Robinson challenges the way we are educating our younger generation. He advocates a fundamental shift in our education systems, to cultivate creativity and acknowledge multiple types of intelligence. He insists on evolving of our factory-like education model into a bespoke one to take it to a new level.

Quote: “Divergent thinking isn’t a synonym, but it’s an essential capacity for creativity. It’s the ability to see lots of possible answers to a question. Lots of possible ways of interpreting a question. To think, what Edward de Bono publicly called laterally. To think not just in linear or convergent ways. To see multiple answers and not one.”

5. Three rules to spark learning by Ramsey Musallam

What it is about: Chemistry teacher Ramsey Musallam gives 3 rules to spark imagination and learning, and get students excited about how the world works.

Why you should watch: Musallam urges educators to stop “pseudo-teaching” and understand their true role: to cultivate curiosity. He insists that teachers should aim to confuse and perplex their learners so that they want to ask questions and experiment. And when students always ask ‘why’, educators must embrace this curiosity and keep it going.

Quote: “Student questions are the seeds of real learning — not some scripted curriculum that gives them tidbits of random information.”

A lot of research and substance goes into making of a TED Talk than a mere classroom lecture. Quite naturally, they spur far more intellectual engagement than some other avenues of teaching. TED Talks illustrate the supremacy of words, and how using the right words can makes a humongous difference to our students’ lives.

If you, too, feel inspired to make TED Talks an important part of your teaching strategy, make them engaging, motivational, and informative.

Keep talking!

And if you have a list of favorite TED talks, do share with us!


A skeptic who swears by magic dust, pallid hues in clouded skies and bandits in neon polka-dots – well, that’s me! A former journalist with a decade of experience in writing across genres, I write to reconcile with myself. To create for myself a space to exist. Writing to make the world a better place is what I aspire to do.

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