Best TED Talks on Reinventing Education [VIDEO]

In February, we published a list of the Best TED Talks on Language & Linguistics. Today, we’re featuring some of our favorite TED speakers – among them, TED curator Chris Anderson and 12-year old child prodigy Adora Svitak – who have dared to challenge the current education system and our approach to learning.

For your viewing pleasure and convenience, six (updated: 3/25/2011) eight of these must-see talks are included below. Did we miss your favorite? Leave us a comment, and we’ll make sure to add it to the mix!

Ken Robinson says schools kill creativity

Sir Ken Robinson makes an entertaining and profoundly moving case for creating an education system that nurtures (rather than undermines) creativity. You might recall the “Changing Education Paradigms” YouTube video that was adapted from another talk given by Robinson.

Chris Anderson: How web video powers global innovation

TED’s Chris Anderson says the rise of web video is driving a worldwide phenomenon he calls Crowd Accelerated Innovation — a self-fueling cycle of learning that could be as significant as the invention of print. But to tap into its power, organizations will need to embrace radical openness.

Adora Svitak: What adults can learn from kids

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


Charles Leadbeater: Education innovation in the slums

Charles Leadbeater went looking for radical new forms of education — and found them in the slums of Rio and Kibera, where some of the world’s poorest kids are finding transformative new ways to learn. And this informal, disruptive new kind of school, he says, is what all schools need to become.


Ali Carr-Chellman: Gaming to re-engage boys in learning

At TEDxPSU, Ali Carr-Chellman pinpoints three reasons boys are tuning out of school in droves, and lays out her bold plan to re-engage them: bringing their culture into the classroom, with new rules that let boys be boys, and video games that teach as well as entertain.


Alan Kay shares a powerful idea about ideas

With all the intensity and brilliance for which he is known, Alan Kay envisions better techniques for teaching kids by using computers to illustrate experience in ways -– mathematically and scientifically — that only computers can.


Sugata Mitra: The child-driven education

Education scientist Sugata Mitra tackles one of the greatest problems of education — the best teachers and schools don’t exist where they’re needed most. In a series of real-life experiments from New Delhi to South Africa to Italy, he gave kids self-supervised access to the web and saw results that could revolutionize how we think about teaching.


Kiran Bir Sethi teaches kids to take charge

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.

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16 Comments on "Best TED Talks on Reinventing Education [VIDEO]"

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Theresa: An excellent collection you’ve assembled! I shall add to the lot by throwing in Steven Johnson’s Where Good Ideas Come From as well as Brene Brown’s The Power of Vulnerability. But let me take it one step further to a non-TED talk, Maggie Doyne’s DO Lectures talk on her work with children in Nepal. For your readers who love talks as much as you and I, may I suggest they visit the site I created that links to 59 excellent video talks and lectures sites. I believe they will find the journey to be wonderful. Jim Melfi, Founder,

Jim – Thanks so much for your additions, as well as the link to your site. Maggie Doyne’s talk is indeed very moving. I’m looking forward to exploring the other talks and lectures that you feature!

So happy you liked Maggie Doyne’s talk. I think you’ll find, as I did, that DO Lectures are excellent. Another site I enjoy (which I link to) is Slate’s Meaning of Life —- many mind-challenging interviews by Robert Wright. Thanks for your kind words. Jim

Though I love the talks that Jim refer to I don’t think they are related to education reform. If you did a post on inspirational talks then that would be perfect in my opinion.

To this list I’d add the following:

Nice list Theresa!

Thanks for the recommendations, Anf! Child-driven education is so important. I’ve added these two wonderful talks to the list.

Not my definition of art at all. They sholud have James Gurney, Iain McCaig Syd Mead and Craig Mullins or for the more gallery oriented people Clyde Aspevig, Joseph Paquet and Tim Allen Lawson.

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DPS is one of the best schools in India.Delhi Public School is a progressive,child centered,co-educational private school,dedicated to providing quality education for all its pupils.It provides opportunities and an encouraging environment in which children are encouraged to achieve their fullest potential.

Some genuinely fantastic information, Gladiola I noticed this.

Once I originally commented I clicked the -Notify me when new comments are added- checkbox and now every time a remark is added I get four emails with the identical comment. Is there any manner you may take away me from that service? Thanks!

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Thanks for this list, Theresa,

If I may add one more, under this theme, I would suggest viewing Conrad Wolfram’s TED talk about math education. Here is the link: