Enrichment Project- Week #1: TED Talks

Today wraps up Week #1 of our Enrichment Project. We spent time each day watching one or two TED talks.  Below you’ll find a list of the talks (with corresponding links) and some of our thoughts.  We had a lot of fun “enriching” our minds this past week and highly recommend taking the time to check out TED if you feel so inclined. 


1. Mark Pagel: How Language Transformed Humanity

Dave’s Thoughts: This was a somewhat interesting talk, but in my opinion not as good as the some of other videos we watched. Essentially, it is a discussion of human evolution and the speaker’s (Pagel’s) view that what set human beings apart from other species is our capacity to communicate with each other and share knowledge.

Adrian’s Thoughts: A little boring, but I enjoyed the talk given the fact I have an interest in language and communication.

2. Ken Robinson: Schools Kill Creativity

Dave’s Thoughts: I highly recommend this very provocative and thoughtful discussion of institutional education. Robinson argues that modern schools are a construct of the industrial revolution and exist simply to destroy original thoughts in students to try and shape them into being “conventionally” intelligent (in a sense, a cookie cutter version of what we view as smart; reading, riting, rithmatic) i.e. the perfect factory worker and a perfectly boring person. Also Robinson is an excellent, casual and engaging speaker. Please watch this.

Adrian’s Thoughts: I too highly recommend this talk. It was one of my favorites from the week.  Not only was it informative and engaging, but Robinson’s great sense of humor kept me laughing the whole way through.


1. Gever Tulley: 5 Dangerous things you should let your children do

Dave’s Thoughts: Funny discussion of how the lengths we go to protecting children have become absurd and counter-productive.

Adrian’s Thoughts: I found that Tulley’s discussion of children today (and their sheltered upbringing) really resonated with my experiences from working at Northeastern.  The idea that parents are so protective of their offspring throughout their childhood, leaves them ill-prepared to face the challenges of adulthood was something I witnessed time and again.

2. Ian Dunbar: Dog-Friendly Dog Training

Dave’s Thoughts: Not our favorite video… summary: man who loves dogs and hates humans scolds humans on how they treat dogs. Skip it.

Adrian concurs. Blah…


1. Matt Cutts: Try Something New for 30 Days

Dave’s Thoughts: Nerdy guy goes outside for a month at a time and actually enjoys it. Worth watching.

Adrian’s Thoughts: Apparently Dave’s not as easily inspired as I. I thought Cutts was interesting and motivating. His talk made me think about trying to put all my plans into action.

2. Julia Sweeney: “The Talk”

Dave’s Thoughts: Very funny story about the speaker’s experience of having the “birds and the bees” discussion with her daughter. Recommend highly.


1. William Ury: The Walk from “No” to “Yes”

Dave’s Thoughts: Very insightful presentation about difficult (impossible) negotiations, specifically the Arab-Israeli conflict, though he touches on others (Chechnya). The talk starts better than it ends though, as in my opinion, Ury attributes way too much meaning and promise into his successful “Path of Abraham” initiative. Still, a great presentation.


1. Ben Dunlap: A Passionate Life

Dave’s Thoughts: Getting past the man’s enigmatic accent, this was an inspiring talk, but Adrian liked it more than I did.

Adrian’s thoughts: This was one of my favorite talks. We watched it the day before we went to visit Sachsenhausen concentration camp and it was such an emotional experience to imagine what Holocaust survivors went through during and then after their imprisonment. The fact that so many of them are such proponents of forgiveness, determination and a search for meaning speaks volumes about the resilience and compassion of human beings. Dunlap recalls that his friend (Holocaust survivor and civil right proponent), Sandor Teszler, always reminded him that, “Human beings are essentially good”. It’s good to be reminded to take advantage of God’s gifts, that learning is life-long and that life should be lived to it’s fullest. 


1. Joshua Klein: The Intelligence of Crows

Dave’s Thoughts: My favorite of the talks we watched, a discussion of animal (crow) intelligence with a provocative idea about intra-species cooperation between humans and animals. It reminded me of Michael Pollan’s The Botany of Desire. Also short enough for everyone to watch!

Adrian’s Thoughts: Entertaining, informative and eye-opening. 


1. David Gallo: Underwater Astonishments  

Dave’s Thoughts: Very cool in a science comes to life kind of way.

Adrian’s Thoughts: Underwater life never ceases to amaze.These creatures are absolutely incredible and the video’s only 5 minutes…you should check it out!

2. Chimamanda Adichie: The danger of a single story

Dave’s Thoughts: Nigerian author talks about stereotypes.

Adrian’s Thoughts: Thought provoking. None of the information was new, but it made me think about the way in which I classify and categorize people and places. It was especially interesting to think about the “single story” of the people I’m currently surrounded by and how those people might interpret me and my home from their singular views.

Well, Enrichment Project- Week 1 down!  Hopefully our reviews didn’t put you to sleep!  Maybe they even will inspire some of you to investigate TED a little more:)  Whatever the case may be hope your year is also starting off on a good foot!

Enrichment Project- Week 2: Exercise Everyday!  

1 thought on “Enrichment Project- Week #1: TED Talks

  1. I dig the Sir Ken Robinson talks. The animation in the video is stellar as well. Check out some of his other talks if you have a chance. Like the enrichment project.

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