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.
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.
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.