5 Engaging TED Talks About Higher Education

Higher Education TED Talks

  • Fred D'Agostino
  • Julian Castro
  • Anya Kamenetz
  • Shai Reshef
  • Tart Sophia Mohr

TED talks seem to bring out the student in everyone and these talks about higher education are no exception. The idea of offering so many different people and minds an opportunity to reach out to people throughout the world to inspire and motivate them is a radical way of thinking about education. These TED talks about education question everything about the university experience from its accessibility to its approachability. There is a vast difference in those two terms and the five TED talks listed here explore that difference.

1. Fred D'Agostino

In Higher Education is Not About Getting a Job, D'Agostino discusses the idea that he believes motivates most people to get a university education. That goal is to make more money. Of course, people with more education do make more money, and that enables them to pursue a more enjoyable lifestyle. The goal of education, however, extends beyond the individual to society. The speaker quotes Robert Gordon Menzies in saying that education develops a "more robust democracy and civilized society" as a whole. That, D'Agostino asserts, is the goal of education. In fact, the prime result of post-secondary education seems to be imparting an inquiring mind and making lifelong learning reasonable.

2. Julian Castro

Castro, who was the mayor of San Antonio when he gave his TED talk, begins The Power of Education: How it Changed My World with three experiences he had in education. The first occurred in elementary school when a teacher recognized his intelligence and gave him challenging work. That experience inspired him to think of himself as special. He eventually went to Stanford University and saw a difference between the California culture and the culture of San Antonio. He decided that difference was in the way university education was presented and where it was focused. His goal became to transform San Antonio into a world-class city by making certain an effective means of education, with a strategic focus, was made available to its citizens.

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3. Anya Kamenetz

Kamenetz begins DIY U by defining education as the knowledge that is passed on from one generation to another. She explains that this approach makes education traditional and conventional in nature. The reality is that this conventional approach is causing a meltdown in university education for several reasons. First, education is too expensive and so it is not available to the masses. Second, the number of educational institutions worldwide cannot keep up with the demand. Third, the rapid development of knowledge is making curriculum obsolete by the time it reaches the classroom. She believes that if society does not change the institution of university education, it will have to resign itself to its loss.

4. Shai Reshef

In An Ultra-Low-Cost College Degree, Reshef discusses the high cost of college education and the necessity to develop a new model to increase access to it. In response to the problem of unaffordable college degrees, he invented the University of the People. The school is entirely online and has no property-related expenses to pass on to students. It also has a faculty of 3,000 that comes from some of the best-known universities in the world at no expense to the students. The University of the People utilizes peer-to-peer learning as well. The result is a virtual school with no tuition and only modest fees and charges.

5. Tara Sophia Mohr

Mohr's TED talk, Rethinking Women & Higher Education, centers on the hostility of the university culture to women. She talks about differences in the way women perceive assignments and issues and asserts that professors routinely harass female students, making them feel inferior because of their perceptions. The good news, Mohr says, is that women are accessing post-secondary education, and doing well in their classes. The bad news is that women report leaving the university feeling less self-confident about their abilities. She says there is a culture of hazing on the university campus and that unless university attitudes change, women will be adversely affected by the university experience.

TED talks can open doors to conversations about culture and learning. These five engaging TED talks about higher education are only some of the exciting discussions available through this forum.