June 21, 2012 by k. liz
Do you want to know one of the things that I love about summer? I have the opportunity to learn all kinds of new things that are totally unrelated to my field, and then find the ways that they actually do connect. I can read books that are not written by linguists or teachers, listen to random lectures, etc. Don’t get me wrong, I love reading in my field as well, but I have just really been enjoying the random lessons and then brainstorming how to take those things I am learning and apply them to the classroom.
To be a bit more specific, I have been a little obsessed with TED Talks lately. I know that I have mentioned them before, but if you didn’t listen to me then, you should go check them out now! I just want to mention a few of the random lessons I have been learning and relate them back to the classroom.
The Optimism Bias:
This was a really interesting talk on the benefits and consequences of being an optimist. The speaker in this video has conducted several research studies to look at what parts of the brain are involved in being an optimistic person. The talk is not only informative, but it has some interesting premises. Tali Sharot shares her thoughts in that optimism can be hugely beneficial by giving us hope and helping us to succeed when given high expectations. She does share, however, that sometimes optimism can lead away from realism. So, her solution? We need to learn how to be hopeful but knowledgeable.
In the classroom . . . can we take these thoughts and help our students learn how to be realistically hopeful? I do think that there are aspects of life in which we need to give our students the optimism to reach for the stars, and then there are times when we need to prepare them for the harsh realities that they may face in life. It’s a balance, to be sure, but can’t we as teachers also learn how to foster a hopeful realism? We do not want to lead our students blindly to their failure, but we also don’t want to stop them before they ever begin to dream.
Perspective is Everything:
I know that this is a rather common phrase, but Rory Sutherland takes about 20 minutes to explain how reframing facts can make the difference in customer satisfaction and willingness to be involved in things. He has some very interesting examples for how this phenomenon works. Overall, this talk is really enjoyable, but also gives some good pointers for how to frame things, what to take into consideration when pitching an idea, and how to make things more attractive to your audience.
In the classroom . . . this is huge! We are trying to pitch information to our students ALWAYS! We need to take into account that there are ways to make things interesting, and there are ways to ruin the same material. If we take the few extra minutes to think critically about how our content will be received we could make simple changes that might drastically change their reception. Definitely worth a few minutes of time!
Connected but Alone?
I loved this talk for its frankness and its very well delivered content. Sherry Turkle talks about how technology is affecting us psychologically, and to be honest, it’s a little scary. We are slowly losing our ability to relate to people in real life. We are slowly becoming inept at holding a conversation. What can we do to combat this? Sherry’s suggestions are not that we get rid of technology, or turn it all off, but rather than we start returning to some simple principles. We need to learn how to be alone and not be lonely. We need to find ways to use technology to learn more about ourselves so that we can interact better with other people. We need to learn how to be a little bored sometimes. And we need to find a way to let go of our need for control that we use technology to fulfill. Sherry’s talk is practical and poignant, especially for my generation and all the generations who will be coming after me!
In the classroom . . . we NEED to foster people skills. We need to teach students how to interact in the real world and how to value and care for people. Yes, technology is a big and important part of our world today, but there needs to also be times where we know how to act without a phone in our hands. We need to learn that we aren’t gods, and we cannot control every minute of our day. This can start in the classroom. Life skills need to be taught in the classroom both with and without technology. If we want a future where people still talk face to face sometimes, we need to make sure that we are helping to make it happen!!
There are so many interesting TED talks available at Ted.com. Let me know which your favorite is!!