TEDucation! A TED a Day Keeps the Brain at Play.


July 8, 2014 by kendrickheather

2000 TED viewings later, I’ve curated a list of 35 must see TED Talks and a TED Hall of Fame.

But first let me back up to how I arrived here at this post.

It starts as most things do with me, with my mom.

 My mom introduces me to everything awesome, cool, and worth learning.

The woman is always 12 steps ahead of everyone else, way ahead of trends, way ahead of her time. She is pretty much the most amazing, erudite, innovative person I know. She is also a life-long learner who is eternally curious.

So it is only natural that she would be the one to introduce me to TED (Technology, Entertainment, Design) many, many years ago, before TED had caught on as “ideas worth spreading”.




I enjoyed watching the videos on any and every topic posted, but never made it a part of my daily learning; until June of 2008, when a gust of TED inspiration hit me. I decided to set a challenge & goal for myself…watch one TED Talk every day!

Why TED?

If you love questions- the who, what, when, where, why, how of it all and/or storytelling and personal narratives,  TED is your portable playground. 

In a few short minutes a day, worlds of learning open for a lifetime at the touch of a play button.  TED is easily accessible and free! You can watch a TED Talk anywhere, anytime. It’s informative. It’s thought provoking. It’s cathartic. It’s curiosity on stage at play! Most importantly,  it’s FUN…and ALL learning should be fun!

6 years later, I have viewed a TED Talk every day without fail, over 2100 viewings.

Sometimes I run out of new ones to watch, so I re-discover old favorites.  Viewings include TED, TEDx, TED-ED, you name it, I’ve watched the gamut of TED offerings.  It is now a part of my daily regimen- nightly nourishment for the brain. I view it as a wonderful bedtime story in which I learn about every field, topic, and insight known to man.  

My amazing colleague Drew Frank, Associate Head of School and Principal at the Davis Academy, is also a fellow TED aficionado. He is a fabulous curator of educational videos and TEDs. I always feel invigorated and inspired when around Drew. He is a generous learner, always willing to share a thought and resource.  Plus, he’s a fierce advocate for the Arts! 

Drew created the annual Davis end of year all school Faculty and Staff Ted Talk Movie afternoon. Multiple showings of selected engaging, inspirational, thought provoking TEDs followed by discussion sessions facilitated by different faculty members always make selecting which sessions to attend challenging since one can not attend all of the sessions offered! Without a doubt, it is THE staff event of the year, the meeting that no Faculty, Admin, or Staff member wants to miss or desires to leave early. This “happening” brings the Davis Academy community together for an afternoon of shared learning, active participation & discussion, and self-reflection. I call these times “Celebrations of Knowledge”! Indeed, Drew designed a universally appealing Celebration of Knowledge where everyone benefits by using TED as the conduit for active learning.

Drew is a torchbearer of collaborative learning and understands the importance of learning together in a fun, relevant, and engaging way. He also knows how to keep an audience captive! Bravo, Drew! All administrators should be this creative, proactive, engaging, and fun! (Follow Drew on Twitter @ugafrank and/or his blog at: drew frank.edublogs.com)

 TED Talks frequently my go to videos in class with students and with colleagues when conducting PD sessions and non profit board work. The sharing is infinite from all parties and conversation is replete with ideas and action. 

My students love watching TED Talks, especially the Ted Speakers under 20. They find the teen speakers relevant, engaging, and inspiring. TED Talks are an excellent way to introduce Project Based Learning and Independent Study projects to them, as well as fabulous tools for teaching identity, motivation, social change, innovation, entrepreneurship, and presentation skills. 

This past April, on a Twitter weekly edchat evening,  engaging, passionate, insightful educators  Paul Solarz and David Qua were discussing TED Talk recommendations with me. 

The power of Twitter is completely realized in strong, vibrant professional learning networks. The Educational #PLN alone of Twitter is invigorating and inspiring. I firmly believe Educators and Entrepreneurs dominate the best of the Twitter-sphere! Thank goodness for that!

In fact, the reason I started blogging can be attributed to that evening chat in April with Paul Solarz’s suggestion I should write a blog post about TED Talk Recommendations. I owe Paul a HUGE thank you for planting that seed! Drop in on a Twitter chat with Paul and you’ll be smiling ear to ear as he shares with and supports all. He is a veritable cheerleader of Learning!

(On a side but very important note- you can and should follow both Paul & David  on Twitter @PaulSolarz and  @MSHistoryTeache and/or on their blogs at psolarz.weebly,com and davidqua17.wordpress.com. They are definitely worth learning from!)

It was a rather daunting challenge to peruse my TED Talks lists and cull them into recommendations.  I do not always agree with or am particularly fond all the Talks I’ve viewed, but  I do find each leaves you transformed, enlightened, in thought, or curious for more.

Here finally is a curated list of 35 that I like to think of as in flux each month. Think of the list as similar to the Eater 38 (the 38 essential restaurants in each city). Some may stay on the list permanently and others might rotate in and out, but each has something uniquely worth learning. 

If you are looking for a TED Talk recommendation (for your own learning, to share with others, or to show in class), there is something for everyone in the links below.  Included are a wide diversity of talks from all years, all lengths, all fields of study, topics, ages, genders, races and more. These are the talks that speak most to me, that I find are wonderful conservation starters and great “shares” with others, that spark “TED-ucation”.

Students’ unanimous favorites are:  Birke Baehr, Joachim De Posada, Jack Andraka, Amy Cuddy,  Shayne Koyczan and all talks by Rives.

I have not added my own personal reviews or thoughts on each Talk I’ve listed, but rather TED’s informational summary of each Talk. I don’t want to insert my opinions or assessments into any viewing before someone has the chance to view it and reflect upon it for herself/himself.  

Now after a viewing is a completely different story, so if you would like to discuss a particular talk, please let me know.  I love a great discussion!!! 

Be sure to share with me your favorite TED Talks and recommendations as well! 

HAPPY VIEWING & TED-ucation!!!



March 2010, 21:24 min

Bored in school, failing classes, at odds with peers: This child might be an entrepreneur, says Cameron Herold. In his talk, he makes the case for parenting and education that helps would-be entrepreneurs flourish — as kids and as adults.

April 2013,  6:12 min

Leaving a high-flying job in consulting, Angela Lee Duckworth took a job teaching math to seventh graders in a New York public school. She quickly realized that IQ wasn’t the only thing separating the successful students from those who struggled. Here, she explains her theory of “grit” as a predictor of success.


April 2012, 10:46 min

Prompted by the Encyclopaedia Britannica ending its print publication, performance poet Rives resurrects a game from his childhood. Speaking at the TEDxSummit in Doha, Rives takes us on a charming tour through random (and less random) bits of human knowledge: from Chimborazo, the farthest point from the center of the Earth, to Ham the Astrochimp…



June 2012, 9:51 min

Because of poor acoustics, students in classrooms miss 50 percent of what their teachers say and patients in hospitals have trouble sleeping because they continually feel stressed. Julian Treasure sounds a call to action for designers to pay attention to the “invisible architecture” of sound.


March 2007, 18:02 min

J.J. Abrams traces his love for the unseen mystery –- a passion that’s evident in his films and TV shows, including Cloverfield, Lost and Alias — back to its magical beginnings.


February 2008, 20:43 min

Benjamin Zander has two infectious passions: classical music, and helping us all realize our untapped love for it — and by extension, our untapped love for all new possibilities, new experiences, new connections. “So if the eyes are shining, you know you’re doing it. If the eyes are not shining, you get to ask a question. And this is the question: who am I being, that my players’ eyes are not shining? We can do that with our children, too. Who am I being, that my children’s eyes are not shining? That’s a totally different world.” – Benjamin Zander



February 2003, 32:09 min

In this soaring demonstration, deaf percussionist Evelyn Glennie illustrates how listening to music involves much more than simply letting sound waves hit your eardrums.


February 2010, 8:12 min

Child prodigy Adora Svitak says the world needs “childish” thinking: bold ideas, wild creativity and especially optimism. Kids’ big dreams deserve high expectations, she says, starting with grownups’ willingness to learn from children as much as to teach.



Feburary 2009, 5:58 min

In this short talk from TED U, Joachim de Posada shares a landmark experiment on delayed gratification — and how it can predict future success. With priceless video of kids trying their hardest not to eat the marshmallow.



Randy Pausch: Really achieving your childhood dreams

September 2007, 1hr 16m

In 2007, Carnegie Mellon professor Randy Pausch, who was dying of pancreatic cancer, delivered a one-of-a-kind last lecture that made the world stop and pay attention. This moving talk will teach you how to really achieve your childhood dreams. Unmissable.



March 2011, 3:27 min

Is there something you’ve always meant to do, wanted to do, but just … haven’t? Matt Cutts suggests: Try it for 30 days. This short, lighthearted talk offers a neat way to think about setting and achieving goals.




February 2013, 10:49 min

Over 85 percent of all pancreatic cancers are diagnosed late, when someone has less than two percent chance of survival. How could this be? Jack Andraka talks about how he developed a promising early detection test for pancreatic cancer that’s super cheap, effective and non-invasive — all before his 16th birthday.


August 2010, 5:14 min

11-year-old Birke Baehr presents his take on a major source of our food — far-away and less-than-picturesque industrial farms. Keeping farms out of sight promotes a rosy, unreal picture of big-box agriculture, he argues, as he outlines the case to green and localize food production. (Filmed at TEDxNextGenerationAshevillen.)



March 2007, 19:08 min

 Wofford College president Ben Dunlap tells the story of Sandor Teszler, a Hungarian Holocaust survivor who taught him about passionate living and lifelong learning.



February 2005, 3:30 min

Why do people succeed? Is it because they’re smart? Or are they just lucky? Neither. Analyst Richard St. John condenses years of interviews into an unmissable 3-minute slideshow on the real secrets of success.



June 2012,  21:02 min

Body language affects how others see us, but it may also change how we see ourselves. Social psychologist Amy Cuddy shows how “power posing” — standing in a posture of confidence, even when we don’t feel confident — can affect testosterone and cortisol levels in the brain, and might even have an impact on our chances for success.



March 2011, 19:50 min

John Hunter puts all the problems of the world on a 4’x5′ plywood board — and lets his 4th-graders solve them. At TED2011, he explains how his World Peace Game engages schoolkids, and why the complex lessons it teaches — spontaneous, and always surprising — go further than classroom lectures can.



March 2007,  15:31 min

Film producer Jeff Skoll (An Inconvenient Truth) talks about his film company, Participant Productions, and the people who’ve inspired him to do good.



November 2011, 11:17 min

Use dancers instead of powerpoint. That’s science writer John Bohannon’s “modest proposal.” In this spellbinding choreographed talk he makes his case by example, aided by dancers from Black Label Movement. (Filmed at TEDxBrussels.)



July 2011, 19:07 min

In Rajasthan, India, an extraordinary school teaches rural women and men — many of them illiterate — to become solar engineers, artisans, dentists and doctors in their own villages. It’s called the Barefoot College, and its founder, Bunker Roy, explains how it works.



February 2001, 17:36 min

With profound simplicity, Coach John Wooden redefines success and urges us all to pursue the best in ourselves. In this inspiring talk he shares the advice he gave his players at UCLA, quotes poetry and remembers his father’s wisdom.


February 2005, 2:59 min

Terry Moore found out he’d been tying his shoes the wrong way his whole life. In the spirit of TED, he takes the stage to share a better way. (Historical note: This was the very first 3-minute audience talk given from the TED stage, in 2005.)


March 2011, 18:18 min

Artist Aaron Koblin takes vast amounts of data — and at times vast numbers of people — and weaves them into stunning visualizations. From elegant lines tracing airline flights to landscapes of cell phone data, from a Johnny Cash video assembled from crowd-sourced drawings to the “Wilderness Downtown” video that customizes for the user, his works brilliantly explore how modern technology can make us more human.



Jeremy Rifkin: The empathic civilization

August 2010,  10:39 min

In this talk from RSA Animate, bestselling author Jeremy Rifkin investigates the evolution of empathy and the profound ways it has shaped human development and society.



April 2010, 14:28 min

The band OK Go dreamed up the idea of a massive Rube Goldberg machine for their next music video — and Adam Sadowsky’s team was charged with building it. He tells the story of the effort and engineering behind their labyrinthine creation that quickly became the YouTube sensation “This Too Shall Pass.” (Filmed at TEDxUSC.)



November 2009, 9:32 min

Kiran Bir Sethi shows how her groundbreaking Riverside School in India teaches kids life’s most valuable lesson: “I can.” Watch her students take local issues into their own hands, lead other young people, even educate their parents.



October 2012, 15:25 min

What do science and play have in common? Neuroscientist Beau Lotto thinks all people (kids included) should participate in science and, through the process of discovery, change perceptions. He’s seconded by 12-year-old Amy O’Toole, who, along with 25 of her classmates, published the first peer-reviewed article by schoolchildren, about the Blacka…


March 2011, 9:04 min

As web companies strive to tailor their services (including news and search results) to our personal tastes, there’s a dangerous unintended consequence: We get trapped in a “filter bubble” and don’t get exposed to information that could challenge or broaden our worldview. Eli Pariser argues powerfully that this will ultimately prove to be bad for us and bad for democracy. 


August 2012, 12:56 min

Most people instinctively avoid conflict, but as Margaret Heffernan shows us, good disagreement is central to progress. She illustrates (sometimes counterintuitively) how the best partners aren’t echo chambers — and how great research teams, relationships and businesses allow people to deeply disagree.



July 2009,  16:51 min

Alain de Botton examines our ideas of success and failure — and questions the assumptions underlying these two judgments. Is success always earned? Is failure? He makes an eloquent, witty case to move beyond snobbery to find true pleasure in our work.


December 2010, 8:43 min

They’ve been called the “saints of Somalia.” Doctor Hawa Abdi and her daughter Deqo Mohamed discuss their medical clinic in Somalia, where — in the face of civil war and open oppression of women — they’ve built a hospital, a school and a community of peace.



June 2012, 9:06 min

David Binder is a major Broadway producer, but last summer he found himself in a small Australian neighborhood, watching locals dance and perform on their lawns — and loving it. He shows us the new face of arts festivals, which break the boundary between audience and performer and help cities express themselves.


July 2010, 16:43 min

Designer Emily Pilloton moved to rural Bertie County, in North Carolina, to engage in a bold experiment of design-led community transformation. She’s teaching a design-build class called Studio H that engages high schoolers’ minds and bodies while bringing smart design and new opportunities to the poorest county in the state.



March 2011, 18:11 min

“Puppets always have to try to be alive,” says Adrian Kohler of the Handspring Puppet Company, a gloriously ambitious troupe of human and wooden actors. Beginning with the tale of a hyena’s subtle paw, puppeteers Kohler and Basil Jones build to the story of their latest astonishment: the wonderfully life-like Joey, the War Horse, who trots (and …



March 2014, 14:04 min

Beware: Rives has a contagious obsession with 4 a.m. At TED2007, the poet shared what was then a minor fixation with a time that kept popping up everywhere. After the talk, emails starting pouring in with an avalanche of hilarious references—from the cover of “Crochet Today!” magazine to the opening scene of “The Metamorphosis.” A lyrical peek…


BONUS: If you have not seen Rives’ original 4 a.m. Talk, check it out here:

March 2007, 9:12 min

Poet Rives does 8 minutes of lyrical origami, folding history into a series of coincidences surrounding that most surreal of hours, 4 o’clock in the morning.



Sir Ken Robinson makes an entertaining and profoundly moving case for creating an education system that nurtures (rather than undermines) creativity.


By turn hilarious and haunting, poet Shane Koyczan puts his finger on the pulse of what it’s like to be young and … different. “To This Day,” his spoken-word poem about bullying, captivated millions as a viral video (created, crowd-source style, by 80 animators). Here, he gives a glorious, live reprise with backstory and violin accompaniment by …


“If I should have a daughter, instead of Mom, she’s gonna call me Point B … ” began spoken word poet Sarah Kay, in a talk that inspired two standing ovations at TED2011. She tells the story of her metamorphosis — from a wide-eyed teenager soaking in verse at New York’s Bowery Poetry Club to a teacher connecting kids with the power of self-exp…


Brené Brown studies human connection — our ability to empathize, belong, love. In a poignant, funny talk, she shares a deep insight from her research, one that sent her on a personal quest to know herself as well as to understand humanity. A talk to share.



2 thoughts on “TEDucation! A TED a Day Keeps the Brain at Play.

  1. I’m so glad to have you in my PLN Kendrick! This blog post is exactly what people need! Now I know which TED Talks to check out & I plan to watch one or two of your recommendations this evening. Thank you so much for taking the time to post this!!!

    I love this point that you made: “I do not always agree with or am particularly fond all the Talks I’ve viewed, but I do find each leaves you transformed, enlightened, in thought, or curious for more.” I hope that people aren’t just watching TED Talks that support their philosophy on learning, but also challenge their opinions. If you’re going to grow, you might need to consider looking at things differently, right? We have the opportunity to do so in the privacy of our homes with no interpersonal conflicts necessary!

    Anyway, thank you for your time culling through the TED Talks that you have watched. I’m very excited to take a look at them over the next few weeks!

  2. Lori London says:

    THANK YOU for sharing…I had to scroll down and make sure my favorite John Hunter was there (he is!)…I will be listening to these soon. You’re the best!

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