In January I attended the first ever TEDx event in Bangkok: TEDxBKK. And it was fantastic.

It was fantastic for many reasons – it was extremely well-organized, the speakers were engaging, the variety of topics was perfect, the food was tasty, it was a jam-packed day of learning – but those really aren’t the most important reason that the day was fantastic for me.

Prepping TEDxBKK

It was fantastic for me because I got to step outside of the field of education and learn about new and different and exciting things. I got to chat with people in a variety of fields and see the world through their eyes. I got to see a preview of what our students might actually end up doing with their lives, instead of always thinking about education.

For the most part, although I’m pretty much constantly learning new things, I’m usually focused on learning about education and technology. The Twitter lists I read most often are made up of educators or technology news, the blogs I read are written by educators, the conferences I go to are about education. But this one was different. Yes, there were three (excellent) speakers who talked about education, but for the most part it was people from a variety of industries talking about their passion and how they are quite literally changing the world.

We heard from:

  • Apirak Kosayodhin, advisor to the Prime Minister of Thailand
  • Brooke Estin, daughter of two ISB teachers, currently working for Kiva and other non-profits focused on sustainable solutions for the world’s challenges
  • Bruce Poon Tip, founder of Gap Adventures, a sustainable travel adventure company
  • Chris Mitchell, a travel writer based here in Bangkok who has been swimming with great white sharks
  • Chris Smith, the Second Life superstar
  • Colin Gallagher, the iPod in the classroom guru
  • Daniela Ruby Papi, founder of PEPY, an NGO working towards sustainable development in education in rural Cambodia
  • James With, a filmmaker exploring the future of 3D cameras
  • Julie Lavoie, a photographer who focuses on the secret life of cities
  • Prae Sunantaraks, founder of the Little Light Project here in Bangkok
  • Ronley Teper, a performance artist
  • Robyn Treyvaud, the cybersafety expert
  • Zoltan Radnai, Community Manager of Prezi
  • Akansha Shah, an RIS student

Each of these speakers shared something absolutely amazing, but the most wonderful thing about seeing them all together in the same day (combined with several pre-recorded TED videos) was spending time thinking and talking about something new and different. The theme of the event was “Minds Wide Open” and that’s really what it did, it opened my mind to the many astounding things that are happening in the world, and more importantly the stunningly creative ways that people are making a difference.

James With

As we were watching these speakers on stage, I couldn’t help but think to myself: these are the people we’re trying to create in our schools. But I’m not sure the stuff we spend our time on is really helping create these kinds of people. In fact, maybe all of the content we’re just “getting through” in school means that the people on stage got there in spite of their education, not because of it…

TEDxBKK was a reminder, a wake-up call, that all the other stuff I learn about day in and day out, though I love it, is really because of this: helping students find their passion, building confidence that they can make a difference in the world, encouraging them to follow their dreams, and making sure that they know they can do it.

With all the time I spend at educational conferences (waaay too much), why don’t we ever talk about any of these things?

So, a huge thank you to the organizers of this event for making me think, for inspiring me, for connecting me, and for truly opening my mind.

10 thoughts on “Minds Wide Open: TEDxBKK

  1. Hi Kim,
    TED & TEDx are truly inspiring. Do you know if there is going to be an archive of recorded speakers from this event? Our business class is looking at a Kiva project and I thought it might be inspiring for them to hear Brooke’s talk.
    Thx! Lesley
    .-= Lesley Edwards´s last blog ..Blog Club =-.

    1. Lesley,

      Good question! I don’t know if there’s a record of Brooke’s talk… and she did such a great job! I know they were filming, so it must be available somehow. Hmm… maybe @robinthailand knows since he was one of the organizers.

  2. I feel so lucky to almost participate in such an interesting conference because I follow your blog, Kim. I don’t always have time to follow links, but today I was attracted to “performance artist” because of my drama teaching background and lucked into Ronley’s blog. The link there to the video which is an animation of her song Faith is just beautiful.

    Thank you!
    .-= Susan Stephenson, the Book Chook´s last blog ..Book Review, Ponkidoodle =-.

    1. Susan,

      So glad you found something special here! I absolutely loved the diversity of speakers – it was such an eye-opening day. Thanks so much for reading!

  3. Kim,

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  4. Great post, Kim! We are currently planning a TEDx event here in Monterey. I so agree that events like TEDx are unique in that they create a space for us all to explore the amazing things that people are doing in the world, without the artificial boundaries of “classroom,” “discipline,” or “standard.” Creativity and innovation lie at the intersections, and I think we do need to create opportunities for students to explore that space and hear from people who are comfortable there. There’s a quote I have above my desk by Robinson Jeffers that reminds me of that space: “Erase the lines: I pray you not to love classifications: The thing is like a river, from source to sea-mouth. One flowing life.” Dipping my toes into the twitterstream and reading wonderful blogs like yours offers me an opportunity to remix my understanding and perspectives on a daily basis. Can’t wait to get even more immersed at our own TEDx event!

    1. Bob,

      I’m sure your event will be fantastic! The opportunity for such diversity in discussion and inspiration is just wonderful. Best of luck in your planning! Can’t wait to hear how the event unfolds!

  5. I definitely agree with you that sometimes teachers get so caught up with teaching their prepared materia,l and also some who are trying to learn new techniques to use in the classroom and with technology, that they lose sight of what the desired end result is. Ultimately teachers should be wanting to help students become the type of diverse people that you saw in the event you attended. If we only produce students who just have a basic knowledge of general education but who don’t take that knowledge and accomplish anything, have we really succeeded as teachers? Please note that by “accomplish” I don’t mean that the students have to be famous for something they did or are doing but I mean that they take what they learn and use it in some form or another.

    ~Christina Motes~
    My EDM310 Class Blog
    .-= Christina Motes´s last blog ..Vocaroo =-.

    1. @Christina,

      I couldn’t agree more. I think there is something inherently wrong with the model of education and schooling that we have now. Schools should not be like factories. Each person is an individual with their own potential. I think the structure of schools is wrong and it is (and will continue to be) very challenging to be able to differentiate to the level needed with the structure that we have now.

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