Breaking From Tradition – My TEDx Talk

A few months ago I had the opportunity to give a TED Talk during a TEDx Youth Event here in Burlington. The video was up briefly and then taken down due to a minor technological glitch. The complete talk is no up and can be viewed below.  It was an honor to be part of this event which featured talented educators like Kerry Gallagher, Starr Sackstein, Eric Johnson, Jeff Bradbury, and Marialice Curran. Thankfully, the adults speakers preceded the impressive talks from students. I am grateful for the work that Jenn Scheffer put in to make this event possible and the fact that she did not have me follow BHS Senior Timmy Sullivan.

I am hopeful that my talk “Breaking From Tradition” strings together a few cogent points.

An Amazing Story Of Courage And Choice – The Terrorist’s Son

I stumbled across the Zak Ebrahim’s TED Talk last week on his experience growing up as the son of a terrorist and following the amazing nine-minute talk I was glad to find that Zak also has written a book titled The Terrorist’s Son.

For me, the idea of terrorism and hatred of a person or group of people because of a particular ideology is incomprehensible. Hearing an account from a family member of a terrorist is eye-opening and incredibly important to share and discuss.  We need to make clear to our children that their is no “guilt by association” for people from a particular ethnic or religious background and that ultimately horrific actions are the result of a choice made by an individuals.

I think the following quote from the book sums up how we need to look at terrorism:

“There’s a reason that murderous hatred has to be taught – and not just taught, but forcibly implanted. It’s not a naturally occuring phenomenon. It is a lie. It is a lie told over and over again – often to people who have no resources and who are denied alternative views of the world.”

The history of violence is clear – “People try nonviolence for a week, and when it ‘doesn’t work,’ they go back to violence, which hasn’t worked for centuries.”

Zak’s powerful and courageous story tells us clearly of the best option – “Everyone has a choice. Even if you’re trained in hate, you can choose tolerance. You can choose empathy.”

The Best TED Talk I’ve Seen – Brene Brown – The Power of Vulnerability

Like many of my Massachusetts colleagues, I have had a little time on my hands with four snow days in the last week.  I am thankful that I stumbled upon this amazing TED Talk on vulnerability. I find it hard to believe that anyone would not be able to make connections with Brown’s amazing insights on the human struggle to feel worthy.


Let’s Talk About Suicide – TED Weekend Starts An Uncomfortable Conversation

TED and The Huffington Post have made suicide and depression the focus of this weekend’s TED Weekend.  There are articles by friends and family members who lost loved ones to suicide and a great talk (above) by JD Schramm, a suicide survivor.

As someone who lost his father at the age of 12 to suicide, I am comforted by those who seek to encourage discussions of depression and suicide. While we have made progress in this area since my dad’s suicide 33 years ago , we still have quite a bit of work to do to support those individuals struggling with the stigma of depression and those families struggling with the pain, guilt, and perceived disgrace that is associated with suicide.

I have always been bothered by the fact that there is far less discussion about mental illness than so many physical illnesses. I am struck by the irony in the fact that the families of those fighting mental illness have had to historically hide their experience living on an emotional roller coaster, immersing them in a similar silent struggles to the victim themselves.  My biggest frustration is with those who see people who commit suicide as selfish, weak, or someone who”took the easy way out.”

Gosh, how ignorant and insensitive can you really be!?  I think we can all agree that mentally healthy do not end their own lives.  Be thankful that you can’t comprehend feeling a sense of despair that would ever have you consider this for one moment! Anyway, I agree with JD Schramm’s concluding remark in the talk above which alludes to the TED Talk theme of discussing “Ideas Worth Spreading.”

Raising awareness and comfort levels for those who are impacted by mental illness and suicide is certainly at the top of my list! I encourage others to help in this cause by sharing this video and the accompanying Huffington Post articles below.

What I’ve Learned From My Best Friend’s Suicide –  by Lea Lane  

Faith-Filled Responses To Suicide  – by Reverend Mary Robin Craig

Goodbye Darkness My Old Friend – by Robin Bobbe

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Education Leadership: Will Richardson’s TEDX Talk

Originally posted on the Connected Principals Blog

I am always looking for entry points for our school community to engage in a meaningful discussion of our vision for students.  Will Richardson’s TEDx Talk from Melbourne, Australia (below) provides a clear description of where we need to be headed.

All schools need to answer the following question asked by Richardson:

What is the value of school when you don’t really need school to do school if we define school in the traditional sense?

Here are two key points from Richardson’s talk that get to the heart of this question:

  1. Learning is what our kids need to be doing in the classroom, not getting ready for assessment that were built for another time.
  2. (via Justin Reich) We pay so much attention to the measurable part of education that we miss the immeasurable part.creativity, perseverance, problem-solving are what are children need.

I would love to hear your thoughts after watching the video!

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