By Dean Whittaker

While preparing to teach at the Economic Development Institute next week, I came across three very interesting TED and TEDx talks.

The first TED talk I want to recommend is by an MIT economist, Andrew McAfee. He succinctly describes our current economic situation and the impact that technology is having on the present and future of jobs as well as the work we do within them. The title of his talk is “What will future jobs look like?” He says that in the short-term, improving education and “doubling down” on infrastructure will see us through. However, long-term we will need to re-think our economic structure as machines create a world of abundance of low-cost goods and services but fewer and fewer jobs. The social impact is of great concern as our society becomes increasingly bifurcated by education and the skills necessary to function in the technology-driven world we are creating by the choices we make today.

The second is a TEDx talk by Edie Weiner, a futurist who contends we have not been in a recession but rather that we are in an economic transition. She further points out that the rate of transition from one economy to the next is accelerating. These rapid economic successions are leaving people behind that are unable to adapt quickly. In her TEDx talk, “Metaspace Economy,” she describes the eight business growth areas of the emerging economy. These are: Inner Space (deep sea); Microspace (nanotech); Outer Space (beyond Earth’s atmosphere); Cyber-Space (virtual); Time-Space; Green-Blue Space (beyond sustainable); Design Space; and Storage Space (physical stuff and data).

The final TEDx talk I would like to recommend is by David Tebo, a school superintendent with 2,500 students and 145 teachers. His talk is titled “The changing face of education.” In it, he gives us the call to action by saying that he is not apologizing or asking for more money, but says that he is failing in his job to educate ALL children in his district. He goes on to describe how school did not work for him despite the fact that his father was a principal and his mother a teacher. He said that at the time it was irrelevant to him. Tebo makes a strong appeal for each of us to become engaged through mentorship with educators because it will take all of us to educate all children. In his talk, he describes a process of building relationships, creating relevance, and increasing rigor to teach children for their future and not our past.

These talks and others can be a great way to engage your community in discussions around a topic. Our local chamber hosts a monthly event at our library showing a TED or TEDx video as a lunch-and-learn topic for a small group discussion to stimulate action on these and other topics. The events are well attended and result in a good discussion. If you spot a great TED or TEDx talk, pass it on, and we will share them in our next newsletter.