TED is a nonprofit devoted to Ideas Worth Spreading. It started out (in 1984) as a conference bringing together people from three worlds: Technology, Entertainment, Design. Since then its scope has become ever broader. Along with two annual conferences -- the TED Conference in Long Beach and Palm Springs each spring, and the TEDGlobal conference in Edinburgh UK each summer -- TED includes the award-winning TEDTalks video site, the Open Translation Project and TED Conversations, the inspiring TED Fellows and TEDx programs, and the annual TED Prize.TEDx is described as follows:
TEDx was created in the spirit of TED's mission, "ideas worth spreading." The program is designed to give communities, organisations and individuals the opportunity to stimulate dialogue through TED-like experiences at the local level.I've watched quite a few TED videos on the TED website and through the app on my iPhone over the last few years and when I heard that there was going to be a TED event so close to where I live I was very excited and keen to get there.
I'm very pleased to report that it didn't disappoint. I thoroughly enjoyed all 11 live presentations on the day and also the three pre-recorded TED Movies from the TED site which were shown. I've embedded these three movies below. I'd seen the Ken Robinson talk previously but it was still great to see it again on a big screen and even 6 years on it still feels very relevant (which I guess is an indictment of how little has changed in the meantime).
The full listing of the presentations today was as follows:
- How do you kill a theory? - Tom Whyntie
- The wages of fear - Andy Kirkpatrick
- The power of procrastination - Dave Windass
- Running to the edge - Robin Harvie
- Ubiquitous energy - Jim Gilbert
- Classical music is cool - Lucia Walsh Hughes
- Hunting for alien life - Lewis Dartnell
- Why don't you? - Luke Williams
- 7 steps that might just change your life - Honey Langcaster-James
- Science fiction as poetry - Adam Roberts
- Crossing Antarctica - Felicity Aston
Pre-recorded TED Movies:
- Aimee Mullins and her 12 pairs of legs
- Hans Rosling and the magic washing machine
- Ken Robinson says schools kill creativity
Now I'm not going to attempt to summarise all of these talks but I am going to pick out my favourites and try and explain why.
In "The wages of fear", Andy Kirkpatrick talked about his attempt to climb the Troll Wall in Norway and why he turned back when he was so close to the top (50m and he had run out of food and water and it was dangerous not a walk in the park by the way). Robin Harvie held everyone rapt while he talked about his attempt to run the Spartathalon (250km in less than 40 hours) in "Running to the edge" and the experience of not managing to complete it (he's going to try again next year). Felicity Aston closed the day by talking about becoming the first woman to ski across Antarctica alone in "Crossing Antarctica". This seemed all the more incredible given she only completed it less than a month ago.
The theme of the day was "Beyond Limits" and these three presentations really resonated with me above all others because of the things that the three presenters learnt about themselves during their experiences. While listening to Andy talking about his climb and what was involved I couldn't help but feel that in some ways the choices he was making by risking his life in this way were selfish given that he has a young son. He made the decision to turn back when he did because he accidentally turned on his camera in his pocket while he was agonising about what to do and heard it play back his son's voice. This was the catalyst for him turning back and he seemed to be more than happy with the decision he made. In a similar way with Robin I came away feeling that what he had learnt about himself in what was a very difficult challenge would help him achieve his goal another time and I have every confidence having heard him speak that he will. He has a clear idea of where he got it wrong last time.
In the case of Robin and Andy, they technically failed in what they set out to do but in neither case does it appear to have been a negative experience and they have emerged from these experiences stronger and better prepared for the future.
Felicity Aston openly admitted at the start of her presentation that a lot of her motivation in attempting to cross Antarctica had been to try and find her own limits. She felt that although expeditions she'd been involved with in the past as part of the team she had never found her limits and she was looking for them. The end result of this is that having completed the expedition successfully and despite the fact that it was the most difficult thing she's done she seems to almost feel that she failed in her goal as she didn't find her limit. She was able to do it. She closed her presentation by acknowledging that she is still too close to the event to really know how she feels about this.
So why did these particular presentations resonate so strongly with me. Well in many ways it links in very nicely with the talk shown by Sir Ken Robinson about our education system. I believe very strongly that we can learn as much by our failures as by our successes. The problem with our education system in this country and particularly in the FE sector where I work is that there is no room for learners to experience failure as a positive developmental process which they can learn from and grow from. We have an education system now where learners are simply taught that passing exams is all that matters and that is all they care about. The joy of learning itself that I remember from my childhood is sucked out in the process of chasing the grades.
The irony of this is that at the end of this educational process business and industry tell us we are producing learners that they then have to spend two years re-training as they are not ready for work (I can't remember the source of this quote but I'll attribute it if I can find it later). I believe our educational system is broken but I also believe I need to be inside it to make a difference and that is what I will continue to strive to do.
So finally, TEDxHull was an absolutely fantastic event. I would highly recommend TEDx events to anyone and I am really hoping that TEDxHull becomes an annual event.
See you next year.
Pre-recorded TED Movies shown at TEDxHull