Tag Archives: TED talks

Maybe It’s Time to Question Our Sacred Cows

This TED talk by Mike Rowe is graphic but you can handle it. Rowe is the host of “Dirty Jobs” on the Discovery channel and he’s committed to bringing dignity to work by showing some of the most dangerous and well, dirty jobs.

He wonders whether we’ve declared war on work and suggests that we question platitudes like “follow your passion”.

Since enrollment in trade schools continually decreases, he wonders whether there will be enough skilled workers to fill the jobs needed to rebuild the country’s infrastructure.

The mike rowe WORKS foundation promotes hard work and supports skilled trades through a trade school scholarship program. Rowe also wrote a book to promote the trades and to raise money for the foundation scholarships. “Profoundly Disconnected” was only available on the foundation website when it was published but that button takes you to the eBay auction page. Amazon’s prices seem to be more reasonable so I included it here. If you find out that the book is available somewhere that would benefit the foundation, please let me know so I can change the link.


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Transparency in Advertising with Morgan Spurlock

Welcome to Day 23 of “31 Days of Great Ted Talks”. You can find a run down of the other exceptional TED talks in this series by going here.

This funny and thought-provoking TED talk slash documentary shows how independent film maker, Morgan Spurlock, went about getting brand sponsors for a documentary about sponsorship, marketing and branding.

He even auctioned off the naming rights to the TED talk about the project.

One thing I loved was watching people tell him “no”. One guy even said “yes” then asked to turn the camera off so he could tell him “no”.

As uncomfortable as it is to watch people get rejected, it’s valuable-especially when they persevere and come out on the other side.

How to Cure Alzheimer’s

There’s been virtually no progress in finding a cure for Alzheimer’s disease since it was first diagnosed in 1906.

Samuel Cohen argues that promising new research could lead to a cure with proper funding and public pressure to do so.

Although Alzheimer’s is the most expensive disease (1 out of every 5 medicare dollars is spent on patients with Alzheimer’s), it accounts for less than a tenth of funding.


Education Revolution!

Sir Ken 2-2Welcome to Day 16 of write31days. Over the hump, so to speak. For this installment of 31 days of Great Ted talks, I have to bring Sir Ken Robinson back for an encore.

Though this presentation isn’t as popular as the first, it is just as poignant and urgent.

Robinson argues that we should revolutionize our model of education rather than reform it (which he views as “simply improving a broken model”).

This isn’t about “privatizing”. I believe public education is already privatized (public money going to huge corporations that control everything in the form of textbooks, testing, testing prep, “technology”, supplies, constant assessment of students, evaluating teachers, food service, “health” initiatives and all manner of “consulting” costs and “studies” before any program, facility or change is implemented).

Recorded around 2010, the exponential infiltration of new technologies affecting nearly every industry and disrupting linearly-oriented institutions make Robinson’s argument even more relevant and urgent. The idea that there’s one linear path to “success” and anyone who takes it will be secure is laughable and irresponsible today-yet that’s how schools prepare students for the world.

Adopting Robinson’s suggestion would allow teachers to teach in the way they are wired and most gifted, instead of conforming to a standardized format. Maybe it’s impossible but worth trying.


Every High School Student Should Learn Statistics

When a MATHEMATICIAN argues that statistics should be taught to high school students before calculus, how can’t we listen? Yet, the pinnacle of mathematics is calculus, a subject that’s important to students who will go on to study mathematics, engineering and the sciences but it doesn’t really apply to daily life.

On the other hand, probablility and statistics if everywhere and can be fun!

Arthur Benjamin argues that our world has moved from an analog to a digital age and statistics drives it (GOOGLE ALGORITHM ANYONE?). In fact, one reason Amazon has become so huge and successful was Jeff Bezos’ foresight in collecting consumer data.

It’s unbelievable that this TED talk was recorded in 2009 and there’s no evidence that stats has taken a front seat in high school curricula. In fact, it’s largely regarded as a “lower level” math.

Wouldn’t you love to know the probability that a guy named Arthur would wind up an academic?



Think Human Trafficking Doesn’t Affect You?

Even though Noy Thrupkaew had been investigating human trafficking for more than 8 years, she never made the connection that her beloved “Auntie”, who cared for Thrupkaew until she was three years old, had been the victim of human trafficking. The young, distant relative was brought from Thailand to the United States on a temporary work visa to care for Noy.

The young woman endured repeated abuse from other members of Thrupkaew’s family until she ran away and eventually went back to Thailand.

Contrary to the common assumption that trafficking only involves bad men forcing young girls into prostitution, that scenario only accounts for 22% of human trafficking in the world.

Applying a more accurate definition: “the use of force, fraud or coercion to force another’s labor”, Thrupkaew shows how we all benefit unwittingly from human trafficking.

In this thorough and powerful TED talk, Thrupkaew challenges all of us to follow the labor and supply chains of the products we consume.

Thrupkaew hasn’t written a book (though she should) but if you’re interested in learning more about human trafficking, including ways to combat it, you can go to this government website: 20 Ways You Can Help Fight Human Trafficking…..and if you buy shrimp from Costco, ask about it.



Peter Diamandis, one of the most vocal thought leaders of our time, is my new celebrity crush!

Not only does he support massive innovation through funding and founding projects like the X Prize Foundation and Singularity University, he has a unique ability to make anyone understand the impact of these exponential technologies in our world.

In this 2012 TED talk, he argues that humans have never been more equipped to anticipate and solve the most challenging global problems like peace, water, energy, health, climate and poverty. He makes a convincing case that now, more than ever, we can be optimistic about the future.

Of course, Diamandis has a few books. This talk is based on the book “Abundance: The Future is Better Than You Think“. I’m currently reading “Bold: How to Go Big, Create Wealth and Impact the World” in which he gives a roadmap to entrepreneurs to predict when exponential technologies will disrupt an industry. Hint: The number one predictor, in his view, is user-friendly interface.


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Walking the Walk

One thing I loved about sociologist, Alice Goffman’s, Ted talk was that she spent 6 years living in one of the worst neighborhoods in Philadelphia. I think that’s brave.

Goffman discovered first-hand how young people of African-American and Latino descent are guided down a singular path to prisons-even for minor first offenses.

This is a fascinating talk and important work. The question is whether and how change will result from studies like this.

I haven’t read Goffman’s literary account of her social experiment but I plan to. You can find “On the Run: Fugitive Life in an American City” here or in your library system.

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Wanted: Cyber Grandma!

What happens when you put the internet in a hole in the wall of a slum? Find out in this Ted™Talk by education scientist, Sugata Mitra.

There’s so much here that I’m going to let this one speak for itself. Applications for cyber grandma’s will be accepted right here at the conclusion of the talk. (wink wink)

If you’re interested in how self-organized learning can be integrated into any classroom (Good luck with that), you might be interested in the Kindle short “Beyond the Hole in the Wall” where Mitra provides step-by-step instructions.


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