Top 5 thought-provoking education TED talks

3 min read

The world of education is full of exciting innovations. Check out our favourite TED talks about teaching, from the role of VR in classrooms to encouraging pupils to lead their own education.

1. ‘Education. War. Peace’ by James Tooley

Nigeria DoodleMathsProfessor James Tooley is someone close to our hearts after our Founder, Tom Minor, worked closely with him in 2018 as part of a UK Aid project that put tablets with DoodleMaths into the the hands of some of the poorest children in Nigeria.

In this talk, which contains fascinating footage of schools on stilts in Lagos lagoon, Professor Tooley discusses the role of low-cost private schools in Nigeria, which educate 68% of children. Tooley believes these schools hold the “power to change society in war-torn countries”. 

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2. ‘Education innovation in the slums’ by Charles Leadbeater

Leadbeater argues that “learning [needs] to be productive in order for it to make sense”, and believes all pupils should be taught relevant knowledge they can use in their everyday lives.  

Schools in Rio’s slums focus on teaching transferable skills such as soap-making and playing instruments. Leadbeater suggests this encourages pupils to attend school, and makes students more engaged when it comes to learning curriculum content alongside these practical educational elements.


3. ‘This virtual lab will revolutionise science class’ by Michael Bodekaer


Image: Michael Bodekaer, ‘Virtual lab’, TED (2015).

Bodekaer argues that VR can bring science alive unlike any other medium. By replicating an entire laboratory in VR, pupils can complete (potentially dangerous!) experiments using theories they learn about in the classroom.

A study conducted found a 76% increase in learning effectiveness for pupils who were taught in the VR classroom – and a whopping 110% increase when taught with a combination of VR and traditional teaching! 

As we discovered at the 2019 Bett Show, there are lots of exciting projects which aim to bring VR into classrooms. Bodekaer’s VR classroom is certainly wow-worthy, and something to be very excited about.

4. ‘The child-driven education’ by Sugata Mitra

After installing a computer into a slum, Mitra found that children were capable of teaching themselves how to use the technology. He suggests that virtual schools can provide access to education in areas where there are no physical schools. Perhaps most importantly, he suggests that this technology can empower children to drive their own education.

5. ‘Creative ways to get kids to thrive in school’ by Olympia Della Flora

YogaFlora highlights the importance of teaching pupils how to recognise and manage their emotions. Reflecting on one’s emotions can improve wellbeing inside and outside of school, and can help disruptive students to focus in class. 

The methods Flora proposes are free to use – such as allowing pupils to take ‘brain breaks’ and doing simple yoga poses! 

We believe it’s really important that children recognise that negative emotions are normal, and that they know how to manage them. Check out our blog on the best books for worriers

Article by Lucy Hart

Doodle empowers learners to achieve confidence in maths and English. Our intelligent technology creates individual work programmes which are motivational, affordable and convenient to use.