(Editor’s note: A version of this essay appears in the Fall 2013 edition of The Planet, the newsletter of Global Community Institute and Explorations Academy)
As I write I am filled with buzzing energy from being part of the first-ever TEDx Bellingham conference. This local event was held in the tradition of TED, a global conference that derives its name from Technology, Entertainment, and Design. TED’s tagline is “Ideas Worth Spreading.” It was an honor and a delight for me to be both a recipient and a distributor of some of those ideas at this exciting conference.
The range of presenters was broad and rich. We heard from – among a long list inspirational speakers – an inventor discussing innovation, a science reporter talking about earthquakes, a Lummi Nation musician speaking to the importance of community, a novelist reflecting on storytelling from the soul, and the founder of an NGO discussing her work supporting girls in the developing world.
My talk was entitled Making Education Matter. At 13 minutes, it was a very brief outline of both the urgent need for education to truly impact young people and to address current issues. I think I was selected as a speaker because my approach is not only rooted in good ideas, but in ideas that are practical and applicable. Explorations Academy stands as proof that this kind of education is not only possible but that it produces results. (If you’d like to view my talk, click here.)
Again, it was a tremendous privelege to take part in TEDx Bellingham. I often ask folks what their “growing edge” is, and although it is not a term in common use, most know just what I am asking: Where are you investing your creativity, your risk taking, and your self-development? This question illuminates the craft that a person is pursuing, while hinting at the direction in they are moving in their life.
One of my growing edges is public speaking. So this opportunity gave me the biggest platform I’ve ever had to share my “ideas worth spreading.” And the structure of a TED talk – a very limited time slot, months of preparation, working with a speaker-coach, and the requirement of memorizing my talk – was very fruitful to me in moving my skills forward in this arena. Thus TEDx Bellingham was both a
But there is a bigger reason I pursued the role of being a TEDx speaker. After eighteen years helping Explorations Academy grow into an excellent and cutting-edge school, I feel that it is time for us to begin bringing our unique strategies and profound successes to a larger audience. I call this process “folding outward.”
As a school, we have reached a stage in our evolution that we are ready to make our successful model visible and accessible to a wide circle of educators. Folding outward means sharing our successes, and, like teaching, it holds the potential to be transformative for those it reaches. With several other folding outward initiatives in the works, we intend to realize that potential and transform education more broadly!