TED2010 Day Four

The buzz at the party after day three was TED curator Chris Anderson’s tweet about Sarah Silverman, in which he called her talk ‘god awful’. Silverman had divided the audience with a routine involving the c-word and facetious plans to find and adopt a retarded child with a terminal illness. Apologising at the beginning of Day Four, Anderson acknowledged that “it’s possible to appreciate Sarah without having the mentality of a drunken sophomore, I just haven’t myself found a way to do that yet.”

The ‘wow’ from TED2010’s fourth and final day was Sir Ken Robinson’s reprise of his 2006 TED talk—one of the earliest and most downloaded talks on the TED site. If you haven’t watched it then you should consider doing so, especially if you’re a parent or teacher. It’s both a hilarious and intensely valuable 18 minutes. In fact, here it is:

This year Sir Ken explained, with fresh anecdotes, his desire to reform the education system used by most of the world, which he believes homogenises children, strips them of their natural creative abilities and distracts them from finding their true passion in life.

TED really does illuminate the lack of correlation between academic success and actual life success. So many of the speakers (all of them profoundly successful people involved in truly world-changing projects) touch on their lack of education or conventional intelligence.

But the one thing they all have in common is that they found their calling. They found the thing that they were truly passionate about. And in most cases they discovered that passion by chancing upon it after spending years studying subjects they’d never pursue. As parents and teachers we don’t place much emphasis on helping our children find that thing they’re passionate about. And yet, far more than academic success, it’s what makes us happier, more productive, and (if you’re so inclined), richer than anything.

Deservingly, Sir Ken received the biggest and longest standing ovation of the whole conference.

Quote of the day was from Philip K Howard, US Attorney, legal activist and author of the book Life Without Lawyers. Advocating against America’s paralysingly litigious culture, Howard reminded us of Thomas Edison’s response to a journalist who asked him about the rules that guided activity in his lab. “Rules!?” Edison exclaimed. “Hell, we ain’t got no rules around here. We’re tryin’ to get somethin’ done!”

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