TEDxNYED: Empowering Innovation in Education

With a title like the one above, and with a job like mine in a non-profit like City Year, it’s no wonder that I jumped at the opportunity to attend this year’s TEDxNYED conference when the link to the application was passed around the CYNY e-mail accounts.  Experts connected to the education field speaking all day about how we shouldn’t settle for the current status quo in American education? Sounds like a great way to spend a Saturday to me!

For those of you already familiar with the famous annual TED Conference and subsequent TED talks online, this event was an independently organized TED event operated under license from TED by a team of New York educators. From their website, a little about the event:

TEDxNYED, an all-day conference focusing on empowering innovation in education, is being held in New York City on Saturday, March 5, 2011.  In the spirit of ideas worth spreading, TED has created TEDx, a program of local, organized events that bring people together to share a TED-like experience. TEDxNYED presenters are invited to share their insights and inspire conversations about the future of education. Attendees of the conference participate via networking sessions where they educate one another and, in the spirit of TED, help spread these ideas.”

The conference room at New York Academy of Sciences. Photo by Flickr's SpecialKRB.

I was fortunate enough to attend the conference this past Saturday. The following are my big takeaways from the event:

  • TEDx conference organizers and attendees are so nice!
  • City Year really has broadened my ability to process and understand issues surrounding education.  I found myself nodding in agreement to a lot of what the speakers had to say. I don’t know that pre-CY I would have been able to get as much out of these conversations as I did this weekend.
  • Global connections are so important for students to make at an early age.  The sooner our students can learn to think about life on an international scale, about how they’re connected to everyone on this planet (in CY speak: Ubuntu), the greater the chance that our students will grow to become responsible citizens.
  • Technology fosters the ability to make these global connections! Therefore, technology in a way fosters empathy!
  • Instead of fighting the trends among our youth – the iPod, their mobile devices, the way they consume information – we should take note from the advertising world and learn to cater EDUCATION through those mediums.  An example: TEDx speaker and author Patrick Carman’s “groundbreaking New York Times bestselling multiplatform The 39 Clues™ series which combines books, collectible cards, and an interactive online game where readers become a part of the story.”
  • …but as we embrace new technologies, our students should continue to be challenged to foster some old fashioned critical thinking and problem solving skills, and a multiple-choice answer test is not the answer.
  • Educators are awesome, in particular the kind that would take a precious Saturday to listen and talk about ways to be better versions of themselves on behalf of their students. They have this immense task at hand – molding the future minds of our country – and they compete with so much (budget cuts, limited resources, cell phones and TV shows) to get their job done well.  Thanks for what you do!

This post was written by Alice Pak (@alice_pak), Events & Alumni Project Leader. All opinions stated here are her own.