Sunday, 25 February 2018

11 TED Talks on Learning

If there's one thing I'm always up for, it's learning about things that interest me. Sometimes, that includes discovering the existence of things that interest me, finding out more about them, how to learn better.
Or trying to understand the how and the why of things that are completely beyond me, like computer programming--which I studied at uni, and passed by sheer fluke.

Anyway, it turns out that there are a ton of TED talks on learning, both in general and in respect to different subjects.

So with my 'Watch 100 TED/TEDx Talks' goal in mind, I watched a few...

How learning German taught me the link between maths and poetry | Harry Baker | TEDxVienna
Poet, Mathematician and World Slam Poetry champion Harry Baker discusses how he discovered a link between maths, in which there are right and wrong answers, and poetry, which has no wrong ones, and demonstrates his skill through an entertaining bilingual poem.
Falafellöffel is my favourite new word.

Quantum Physics for 7 Year Olds | Dominic Walliman | TEDxEastVan
Through this easy to digest talk, quantum physicist Dominic Walliman discusses simple ways to improve communication in science, revealing that quantum physics isn't difficult to understand, it just needs to be explained better.
I still think quantum physics is one of those things you work with when you're a super brainy person, but I did have a few "Oh!!!" moments whilst watching, in which everything was suddenly clear!

How I taught myself to code | Litha Soyizwapi | TEDxSoweto
In this talk, graphic designer and app developer Litha Soyizwapi tells the story of how he learned to draw after initially failing his course, and then how through curiosity, determination, and process, he taught himself how to program apps, eventually creating one of the most popular app in South Africa.
This is a really inspiring talk, and shows how with the right tools and information, and of course dedication, self-learning really is possible, with incredible results.

The first 20 hours-- how to learn anything | Josh Kaufman | TEDxCSU
Author and teacher Josh Kaufman uses this talk to explain that it takes just 20 hours to learn absolutely anything. He proves it by playing the ukelele. It's a bit more in-depth than 'it takes 20 hours to learn something' but is an interesting talk!
I want a ukelele now.

5 techniques to speak any language | Sid Efromovich | TEDxUpperEastSide
In this talk, hyperpolyglot Sid Efromovich talks language learning, presenting five different techniques that can be used to learn a language. Within this talk is an explanation of how we have a 'language database' which we tend to refer to when trying to learn foreign languages, the importance of making mistakes, of practise, of scrapping the foreign alphabet and more.
As someone with an interest in languages, I found this talk really interesting, and definitely gained a couple of good tips!

How you can be good at math, and other surprising facts about learning | Jo Boaler | TEDxStanford
Mathematics education professor Jo Boaler shares research into teaching methods, which reveal how all of us - even those of us who consider ourselves 'not a maths person' - can be good at maths. Her talk questions the efficacy of how maths is currently taught, and confirms that even the most mathematically challenged can learn if taught in the right way.
I'm one of those 'not a maths person' types, but this talk made me think maybe that's not so true.

Learning how to learn | Barbara Oakley | TEDxOaklandUniversity
Barbara Oakley is a professor of Engineering who flunked maths and science all the way through high school. In this talk, she tells of how she enlisted in the army, and how through this, came into contact with algebra and engineering, which led to her returning to school and using specific methods to finally beat the subjects that she had struggled with in the past.
An inspiring talk, proving - like some of the others - that given the right methods and mindset, it's possible to learn even the subjects we struggled with in the past.

Learning styles & the importance of critical self-reflection | Tesia Marshik | TEDxUWLaCrosse
In this talk, Dr Tesia Marshik uses reseearch-based evidence to debunk the myth that we have 'learning styles'--and explores both why this belief is a problem, and why we still believe it despite there being so much evidence to the contrary.
When I started watching this talk, I was a little cynical, because I am (was) one of the people who thought there were definitely different kinds of learning styles. I stand corrected.

You Should Learn to Program: Christian Genco at TEDxSMU
With a mission to inspire the whole world to learn how to program, Christian Genco uses uses this talk to deliver such incredible facts as the number of Apollo 11 missions a modern smartphone has the processing power for and the future of computer processing power. He draws parallels between learning to today and learning to read in the 15th Century, and overall really states his case: you should learn to program.
If my comments at the start of this post didn't make it obvious already, I'm no programmer (and actively hated programming) but this talk almost convinced me to give it another try.

Can you learn the hardest language in the world? | Irina Pravet | TEDxOtaniemiED
Language coach Irina Pravet talks about learning Finnish as a foreign language, and gives examples of effective ways to learn what is considered to be 'the hardest language in the world'.
Before watching this talk, I didn't realise Finnish was meant to be the hardest in the world, but having seen Finnish, I can understand why it's perceived that way! And for the record, I think I probably could learn it. It would take at least 20 hours ;)

The poetry of programming | Linda Liukas | TEDxCERN
In this talk, programmer, storyteller and illustrator Linda Liukas discusses encouraging more people to engage in programming, especially the next generation, and how she wants to create a more diverse world of progamming and technology.
Having watched this, I'm still not going to run off and learn Java, but seeing some of her examples, it's good to see that programming is being made far more accessible and fun to kids than when I was at school!

That's it for this group of talks! I ended up watching the programming ones because YouTube suggested them and - as someone who struggled with it - I was curious about how to learn it. (Sitting in lectures and making 'Hello World' applications at university definitely wasn't the answer that worked for me). I watched the language ones because I'm interested in languages, and the ones generally about learning becaues I like learning!
This is probably one of the most academically useful batch of talks I've watched so far, and I may end up going back to some of them to watch them again!

You can see the other TED talks I've watched on my TED talks tag. This group of talks brings my total watched talks up to 70!

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