One of the things I love most about having two tween girls is moving beyond Disney into a shared new world of movies, TV shows, pod casts and TED Talks — especially TED Talks — that feed our brains and our souls. Hello This American Life, Radio Lab and The Wonder Years! Hello big conversations about the universe and what it means to be a human in the world.
This week, Roxie, Lila and I went deep down the TED Talks rabbit hole. We traveled around the world, backward and forward in time and came out with 10 talks we loved. Not an easy task. There are so many, many hours and hours of brilliant, inspiring, revolutionary ideas that there’s no way that I could call this list “the best of.”
These are not the “10 best TED Talks to watch with your kids.” They are 10 great talks that you will be better for watching. In no particular order, here are the top talks we loved:
1. Kevin Breel: Confessions of a Depressed Comic
Depression doesn’t always look like depression. Sometimes the kid who appears to have it all struggles every day to put his two feet on the floor and get out of bed. Teenage comic Kevin Breel was an outgoing, outstanding student and athlete, the star and captain of his state champion high school basketball team. He was also secretly suicidal. His short, powerful talk shows kids that there’s no shame in speaking up when you are depressed.
2. Charlie Todd: The Shared Experience of Absurdity
Improv Everywhere’s Shared Experience of Absurdity is at the top of Roxie’s must-see list. Because of things like no-pants subway rides and dozens of people standing around in a Best Buy wearing blue polos and khaki pants. The message here: growing up doesn’t mean you have to outgrow fun.
3. Gabe Zichermann: How Games Make Kids Smarter
Warning: This talk will do nothing to advance your crusade to cut screen time. But it may make you feel better about the long-term impact of video games. Zichermann shares research on the positives of gaming: increased brain plasticity, quicker reaction times, more fluid thinking and defter multitasking skills among them. Keep your mind open and remember that the world our kids are inheriting is not the world we’re inhabiting.
4. Drew Dudley: Everyday Leadership
With one small, silly act Drew Dudley changed the course of two lives. He had no memory of this moment, nor the two people he connected through it. This talk is what I love about life: the story of how everything we do ripples outward in directions we can’t even imagine.
5. David Fasanya and Gabriel Barralaga: Beach Bodies
Poets David Fasanya and Gabriel Barralaga take just three minutes to take on body shame and the power of loving your skinny, pudgy, short, tall imperfect self for who you are.
6. Ludwick Marishane: A Bath Without Water
Inventor and entrepreneur Ludwick Marishane became Limpopo, South Africa’s youngest patent holder with DryBath, the world’s first waterless bath lotion. His goal: provide a cheap, safe bath substitute for the 250 million people worldwide who lack easy access to a clean water supply. Also, to get out of bathing so often.
7. Sugata Mitra: Build a School in the Cloud
Is our education system obsolete, broken and built on the needs of a world that no longer exists? Watch what happens when Sugata Mitra builds a virtual school in the cloud and give students in India the power to design and define their educations.
8. Hackschooling Makes Me Happy: Logan LaPlante
Logan LaPlante left traditional school at age 9 to pursue an education that inspires him to learn. His end goal is not to prepare himself for life on the corporate ladder, but to learn how to become a balanced, healthy adult. What’s does the 13-year-old want to be when he grows up? Happy.
9. Maurice Ashley: Working Backward to Solve Problems
Chess master Maurice Ashley takes lessons from the game off the board and into the real world. The key to reaching any goal is to apply the strategies of chess: know your endgame and work backward, move by move, so you can see every step of the path forward.
10. Elizabeth Gilbert: Success Failure and the Drive to Keep Creating
What happens after you get the brass ring? When author Elizabeth Gilbert’s bestselling memoir “Eat, Pray, Love” shot out of the stratosphere and left her back down here on earth struggling with the question of how to keep writing in the face of enormous success, she drew on years of failure to find her answer.
Bonus talk: Emma Watson Addressing the UN
Okay, technically this one’s not a TED Talk. Still, sit yourselves and your kids down right now and watch actress Emma Watson (aka Hermione Granger) address the UN on feminism and gender equality. Go on now. The rest of these links will be here waiting for you.
Got a favorite clip we missed? Please, please, please share it. We’d love to see what moves you.
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