Posted by: Carol | May 10, 2011

TEDxAFC: Get Your Fix

One of the most successful ways to engage students in content and build real-world skills is to use project-based learning. This is an educational strategy that CTE teachers use as a matter of course. It’s something that can and probably should be applied more frequently in academic core content areas as well. The hard truth, however, is that it’s often squeezed out by testing-related constraints and the pressures teachers feel to teach content in a manner that takes it out of context – a highly effective way to create a disengaged and uninterested student population.

You might imagine, then, what I felt when I saw that the theme of this TEDxAFC was “Get Your Fix.” While initially suggesting something more light-hearted and possibly recreational, event organizers explained that the speakers had been asked to focus their talks on actionable topics, which attendees and others can follow-up with efforts to “fix” some of the problems or pursue some of the possibilities highlighted by the work of the speakers. Talk about opportunities to bring the real-world context and relevance to education! Really briefly, I’ll summarize some of the talks here, and you can follow up when the archived videos are released later. Also, there will be follow-up events later, with each speaker, which you can attend. This is a first of its kind, for a TEDx event, so well done, TEDxAFC, for innovating that new aspect of the TEDx experience.

Scott Silverman is the founder of Second Chance, a human services agency that works to break the cycle of poverty and homelessness. He’s nationally recognized as a leader in workforce development and the author of Tell Me No, I Dare You. In his talk, he recounted his experiences struggling as a child diagnosed with ADHD in school, his battle with alcoholism as an adult, and his work efforts to provide those who are chronically unemployed and often homeless with job readiness skills and training, employment placement, and affordable housing referrals. He views his work as “upcycling” human beings and challenges people not to let others take their, “yes” away.

Scott Silverman

Serge Dedina is the co-founder and Executive Director of WiLDCOAST/COSTASALVAjE and spoke about environmental conservation campaigns and what it takes to actually move people – not agencies or organizations or corporations – but the people who are not only major stakeholders in any particular issue or project  but also sometimes, unintentionally part of the source of the problem – to take action to help correct the problems. He points out that while data is highly valued by all kinds of groups and entities, it’s usually not the data alone that leads to action and change. Often, it’s data combined with heart and passion.

David Lecours is a creative coach and designer. In his talk, he began by relating the story of his own birth that was shortly followed by his father’s death as an Air Force pilot during the Vietnam War, and then subsequent addition of a new father and the forming of a new family. Having primed the audience with this personal story, he introduces the idea that stories connect people, ideas, and things. They open us up, ready us for connection to something else, and develop buy-in. He pointed out that as a society, we are drowning in a sea of facts, and that by weaving a story in with statistics, we can create a message that not only makes sense of all those facts, but has powerful emotional impact that serves as motivation to act, as well.

And there’s more to come. What do you think? How can you incorporate these lessons into your work with students?

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