Friday, July 11, 2014

TEDxNewarkAcademy 2014

In May 2014, Newark Academy hosted TEDxNewarkAcademy, an event created in the spirit of TED’s mission, “ideas worth spreading,” and licensed as an official TEDx program. I initiated the process of bringing the event to Newark Academy in February 2013, and worked for more than a year with a talented and committed group of students and faculty to produce it.

The event featured six speakers from across the Newark Academy community—five current students, a member of the faculty, and an alumna. The speakers focused their presentations on the event’s theme, Beyond Content: Skills for the Future, a topic stemming from the school's recent strategic plan that included a call for an expansion of program initiatives aimed at helping NA students develop "the skills and qualities needed to meet the challenges of a complex, rapidly changing global environment." Speakers at TEDxNewarkAcademy spoke about experiences which have allowed them to develop, to practice, and/or to teach these skills and about why they value these skills in themselves and in others. In this way, presenters addressed enduring skills for the future by moving beyond the particular "content" of their individual experiences.

Crafting and practicing the original and memorized talks was at times a challenge for the students, and they rose to meet it. I'm pleased to share the videos of the six talks. Watch, enjoy, and share!

Monday, July 7, 2014

Edmundson's "Pay Attention!"

University of Virginia English Professor Mark Edmundson has a smart essay on attention in modern education and life in the Summer 2014 edition of The Hedgehog Review. He writes, "the deep opposite of attention isn’t distraction, but absorption:"
Absorption is what occurs when you immerse yourself in something you love doing. The artist and the poet and the philosopher and the scientist become absorbed. The kind doctor becomes absorbed in her patient; the teacher becomes absorbed in his class presentation. The musician becomes absorbed in the fugue. When that happens, time stops and one lives in an ongoing present. One feels whole and at one with oneself. The little boy drawing with his pad on the floor, tongue sticking out from one side of his mouth, is a picture of absorption. He is not really paying attention. He is being absorbed. What is happiness? W. H. Auden answered the question quite simply: Happiness comes in absorption.
The entire piece is worth reading.