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  Weekly Feature (April 5, 2009)


Brad's Weekly Feature
Introducing TED



TED has changed my life and my teaching practice. But, what is TED? No, it is not a religion, nor is it a person. TED stands for Technology, Entertainment, Design. Here is how TED explains TEDTalks, the online lectures I’ve used successfully in my English classes this term.

TEDTalks began as a simple attempt to share what happens at TED with the world. Under the moniker "ideas worth spreading," talks were released online. They rapidly attracted a global audience in the millions. Indeed, the reaction was so enthusiastic that the entire TED website has been reengineered around TEDTalks, with the goal of giving everyone on-demand access to the world's most inspiring voices.

TEDTalks are indeed “inspiring,” and, better yet, up to date. One talk my students particularly enjoyed was given in February, 2009 by Barry Schwartz—“The Real Crisis? We Stopped Being Wise.” In his lecture, Schwartz introduces us to the idea of “practical wisdom,” a kind of wisdom practiced by everyday people, but not one recognized in any job description. He also refers to President Barack Obama’s January inaugural speech and his call to “set aside childish things” as a call to practice more wisdom in our lives.

Students were engaged by Schwartz’s powerful examples. One that resonated with many was the story of the Polar Tec CEO who, when the factory burned down one night, made sure to keep every employee on his payroll until it could be rebuilt, knowing that his employees were his most valuable asset.

Each lecture is no more than 20 minutes in length. Find them at


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Going Green: Using Colour in Writing

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