Watching TED Talks has become a classroom activity, an educational pastime and a way to procrastinate on writing essays. The hard part is that there are so many out there over so many different topics that it can be hard to figure out which ones to watch. In no particular order, here's a list of remarkably riveting TED Talks spanning subjects from mental health to the environment that people should definitely check out!
1. Walk the earth ... my 17-year vow of silence, John Francis
In 1971, John Francis gave up riding and driving in motorized vehicles in response to witnessing the collision of two oil tankers that resulted in an oil spill in the San Francisco Bay. On his 27th birthday, he took a vow of silence that lasted 17 years in order to become a better listener. During this time, he earned an MA in environmental studies and a PhD in land resources. He's also walked and sailed around North and South America. Now he's broken the silence with an important message to share about protecting our planet.
2. The hilarious art of book design, Chip Kidd
While we often use the cliché "You can't judge a book by its cover," we never really think about what goes into the design of an actual book cover or what the design communicates to potential readers. In this talk, graphic designer Chip Kidd, who designed the cover for Michael Crichton's Jurassic Park that was later incorporated into the franchise's logo, talks about what goes into designing a book jacket.
3. How to make stress your friend, Kelly McGonigal
Psychologist Kelly McGonigal talks about how the way you view stress impacts how negatively it affects you. I found this very useful as a perpetually stressed college student.
4. Athletes and Mental Health: The Hidden Opponent, Victoria Garrick
Speaking of stress and mental health, here, USC student and student athlete Victoria Garrick discusses the stress and demands placed on college students, specifically student athletes. She discusses the issue, the stigma and the silence.
5. I'm not your inspiration, thank you very much, Stella Young
Comedian and journalist Stella Young humorously dispels the idea that a disability is a "Bad Thing" and that people with disabilities serve as an inspiration to others simply by living their everyday lives. This TED Talk gave me a lot of pause for reflection about how I treat and view people with disabilities.
6. Paper towns and why learning is awesome, John Green
John Green is one of my favorite authors, and he can also deliver a great TED Talk! Here he talks about how learning expands your "map" of where you might go in life and shares a personal and relatable story of how he came to love learning as a result of being in a community of people who loved and valued knowledge. He also talks about how this community of learners exists online, especially on YouTube.
7. Strange answers to the psychopath test, Jon Ronson
Author and journalist Jon Ronson uses a personal encounter to discuss how to distinguish the sane from the psychopaths (and just how hard it is to do that!). Is it really so easy to just categorize people into neat, labeled boxes?
8. Syncopated Sonnets, Tyehimba Jess
Tyehimba Jess tells the story of the conjoined twins and worldwide performers Millie and Christine McCoy through the most intricate and amazing sonnets I've ever seen. This isn't your average Shakespearean verse; even if you're not that into poetry, you'll definitely find this interesting!
9. Do schools kill creativity?, Sir Ken Robinson
Sir Ken Robinson argues that in the education system, creativity should be valued just as much as literacy. "If you're not prepared to be wrong, you'll never come up with anything original," he says. However, today we are teaching children that mistakes are the worst things you can make, and people today are too afraid of failure.
10. This is what happens when you reply to spam email, James Veitch
On a more lighthearted and HILARIOUS note, this is James Veitch's experience with replying to a spam email (which most of us have wanted to try at some point).
11. My son was a Columbine shooter. This is my story, Sue Klebold
Sue Klebold is the mother of Dylan Klebold, one of the two perpetrators of the 1990 Columbine High School massacre that resulted in the deaths of 15 people (including the shooters) and wounded more than 20 others. In a riveting and emotionally compelling TED Talk, Sue Klebold explores the relations between mental health and violence, especially the link between suicidal and homicidal thinking.
12. My journey from Marine to actor, Adam Driver
I was unaware that Star Wars actor Adam Driver was a Marine until a friend showed me this cool TED Talk. Driver founded the nonprofit Arts in the Armed Forces, which brings theater to members of the military.The talk closes with a performance of Marco Ramirez's "I am not Batman" by Jesse J. Perez and Matt Johnson.
While sometimes you might want to get sucked into the seemingly endless list of TED Talks for hours on end, it can be helpful get recommendations on which are the best. Which TED Talks are your favorites?