Recent learning

In praise of Ted

My brother (an academic librarian) recently sent me some website suggestions. He is always on the lookout for innovative sites and knows that I am interested in education and technology as well as mathematics (I am a Primary Mathematics Consultant).

One of the sites he suggested came with the rather innocuous name of

I looked up the site and was amazed to find that this organisation has existed for a number of years and sponsors speakers who attend one of their annual conferences in California, Oxford (U.K.) or maybe India. These conferences are a forum for speakers who have to have something really interesting to say in just about 20 minutes (or less).

The videos of these lectures are all accessible on the site and you can join Ted for free.

I examined the site and so far have come across two fascinating talks. The first was a talk by Ben Dunlap who is the President of Wofford College in  Spartanburg, South Carolina, U.S.A.

From the first words in Magyar (Hungarian) to the last words (also in Magyar) I was utterly transfixed by 18 minutes of the best lecturing I think I have ever seen.

He tells the story of Sandor Teszler, a Hungarian Jew who managed by pure fortune of an event that had happened earlier in his life (which Dunlap recounts) to escape from Hungary and the holocaust only to find himself, as a textile factory owner and production expert in the centre of the textile industry of the U.S.A. which was Spartanburg, South Carolina.

Teszler found himself in the middle of the apartheid like society that existed in the American South in the 1940’s. He had seen man’s inhumanity to man and the effects of racism and religious intolerance. He decided that he was going to do something positive to combat the evil of racism. So he opened a factory.

In the 1940’s factories were strictly segregated in South Carolina but Teszler’s was never going to be. He was able by the sheer strength of his obstinacy and personality to make sure that he opened the first desegregated textile factory in the American South.

The story of this amazing man is told with a passion that befits his contributions to American society. It is only just over 18 minutes long and was worth my brother’s recommendation of the site on its own.

A couple of days later I was able to continue to mine the seemingly endless supply of amazing speakers and their lectures by coming across a lecture by Eric Sanderson about the Manahatta Project.

This lecture was about a fascinating use of computer technology to take an old British map of 1609 of what is now Manhatten Island, New York and show by successive layers how the landscape and ecology of the area changed up to the present day.

It shows the power of computer simulations and it reminded me just how much information technology is changing our lives and will change the lives of the children in our schools or who have yet to get to our schools.

A day or two later I was given a link by my brother to an online archive on  the University of Pittsburgh’s main site. There were about 3000 hours of recorded interviews which had been part of an oral history project in the 1970’s and early 1980’s. All the interviews could be heard online and there was background data and information as well as transcripts.

Today (as I write) I was sitting in an I.T. suite of a local primary school in the area I work in. The man who runs the suite (James) was going on about the way that computers were changing everyone’s lives and that their potential was not being fully used in schools.

I feel that, whether we like it or not, information technology is bringing amazing things within our children’s reach. We must give them the chance to access this world, whilst warning them of the potential for its misuse.. not everything out there is wonderful and uplifting for the human spirit. But there is plenty to be learnt and much to be investigated.

I have just found two lectures and an archive of old recordings but they have changed my perspective on life. What else is out there that can change the lives of our children?

Link to these Talks (and others) :

9 Responses to Recent learning

  1. Pingback: Summing up my 2009 e-learning « Malcolm Bellamy's Learning Blog

  2. Spot on with this write-up, I actually assume this website wants rather more consideration. I’ll most likely be again to learn rather more, thanks for that info.


  3. poker says:

    I am writing to make you be aware of what a impressive experience our daughter enjoyed using the blog. She realized several issues, including how it is like to possess a wonderful helping spirit to make other people easily fully understand specific tricky subject matter. You undoubtedly exceeded our own expectations. Many thanks for distributing the necessary, trustworthy, explanatory and in addition fun tips on this topic to Janet.


  4. Thanks for another great article. Where else could anyone get that type of info in such an ideal way of writing? I have a presentation next week, and I’m on the look for such information.


  5. diet plans says:

    Hey there I am so glad I found your web site, I really found you by error, while I was researching on Bing for something else, Anyways I am here now and would just like to say cheers for a marvelous post and a all round enjoyable blog (I also love the theme/design), I don’t have time to look over it all at the moment but I have saved it and also added in your RSS feeds, so when I have time I will be back to read a great deal more, Please do keep up the excellent job.


  6. Have you ever thought about writing an ebook or guest authoring on other blogs? I have a blog centered on the same topics you discuss and would really like to have you share some stories/information. I know my audience would value your work. If you are even remotely interested, feel free to shoot me an e-mail.


  7. Gaye Donkin says:

    Just added this blog to my favorites. I enjoy reading your blogs and hope you keep them coming!


  8. Paul says:

    I loved that talk on Teszler as well. Amazing story passionately told. A real life Hollywood movie I would say. Couldn’t agree more that we need to make the world’s resources more openly available to students. Education systems separate students from the real world for the most part. Up until the last generation or two kids were often learning skills and making real contributions to the world by the age of 12. Opening up the world’s resources, offering them some choice about what gets them fired up about learning and then performing authentic real-world projects that will benefit the community or others is a direction of value that we should consider in moving the ed. system forward.


  9. Alyssa says:

    Nice blog! Is your theme custom made or did
    you download it from somewhere? A design like yours with a few simple adjustements would really make my blog stand out.
    Please let me know where you got your design. Thank you


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s