Using TED Talks In My Classroom
Freshmen biology students are engaged in learning about how biodiversity affects the health of an ecosystem and how humans interact with the environment. They are working on collaboratively creating a wiki page presenting their ideas about how society developed in our local region based on proximity to the Merrimack River, and how the development of that society impacted the river and surrounding environment. The students have done surveys of local species and considered land form changes over the years around the campus. Today I asked them to think about the current condition of the ecosystem, what people might be doing properly to protect it’s diversity, and what other actions they might consider taking to further protect human-nature interrelationships.
As part of this discussion and inquiry, the students were assigned “Easter Island’s End” by Jared Diamond (published in 1995 in Discover) to read as homework. A general discussion of the reading of the article (What did you notice? What did you find interesting? What did you find surprising?) was followed by a TED talks video of Jared Diamond discussing the collapse of society. I was worried that these freshmen students would not sit and listen to a fast-talking lecture but they did. Even though Diamond’s talk alluded to the ENRON scandal, a few years old, the students were able to apply the same ideas to today’s banking problems and the recession. Diamond reinforced some environmental information I had given the students previously, but with a new example, which was very nice. He also repeated a question that the students themselves had had during our discussion of the Easter Island’s End article, namely, what were they thinking as they cut down the last palm tree on the island?
It was after reading and discussing the article and then watching the video that the students were taken on another walk of the campus, this time with direction to look for current “relationships” between society and the environment and to consider whether this was the best we could do, or was there something else, something more, that could be done to prevent the collapse of any system within the system. Their next scheduled day for the computer lab to write about this is several days away… I am anxious to see their wiki reflections and comments.