The last few days of school for 12th grade students who have already taken an Advanced Placement exam, and who have already been physically (and emotionally) fitted for a cap and gown, are restless days. So, this year, I asked the students to create and to present short TED-like Talks on the topic “What I Learned in 13 Years of Education.” The parameters were very simple for this assignment:
- The presentation must be a minimum of 3 minutes-maximum 5 minutes;
- The visuals (slides) must have few words and contain high interest graphics;
- The topic must begin in a lesson learned and then connect to a “profound” idea.
Each student prepared one presentation using a humanities focus and a second presentation focused on science, math, or technology. At the beginning, the making a connection to the profound idea proved to be the most elusive part of each presentation.
Students could explain important things they had learned, but connecting these lessons to a large concept was tricky. Three of the ten presentations, however, found very different ways to arrive at the same conclusion.
The profound idea was that an individual’s perspective and point-of-view matter; they encouraged the audience to be “open-minded” in school. Their convergence on this idea was unintentional, and their mutual agreement that this was a profound idea could be reached in different disciplines was inspiring.
Today, presenting their TED-like Talks during the 8th grade study hall , the seniors participated in the last English class they will ever take in high school. The 8th graders watched the seniors do their different presentations centered on what they learned in 13 years of education.
Hopefully, this audience of incoming high-schoolers better understands the importance of point-of-view and perspective once they enter high school in September.